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ADCC 2015 77kg preview: Garry Tonon set for breakout performance in Sao Paulo

Bloody Elbow's grappling editor, Roy Billington previews the divisions of ADCC 2015. Here, we look at the 77kg division featuring Garry Tonon and Otavio Sousa.

This weekend, the premier grappling event in the world goes down.The Abu Dhabi Combat Club's Submission Wrestling World Championships has been the proving ground for grapplers around the world since its inception in 1998. This year, the tournament takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil and will be available on pay-per-view at Budo Videos. Over the course of the next few days Bloody Elbow will be previewing each of the divisions. Here, we look at one of the more competitive divisions, the -77KG category.

Historically, the 77KG division has been the home to the greatest grappler of all time, Marcelo Garcia, who won the division outright 4 times before retiring from the sport in 2011 to focus on his burgeoning New York academy. In 2013, the 77kg division was pretty exciting with Kron Gracie, who isn't competing this year, winding up as eventual winner. Here, we will talk you through who should be considered the favourite to take home gold as well as who is capable of pulling off the shock.

The Favourites

Garry Tonon

Garry Tonon will either win this tournament outright or get outpointed early. Let's be under no illusions - Tonon is the greatest pure submission stylist in the 77KG division but has shown a willingness to give up sweeps and positions in the past in pursuit of submissions, which would be a bad idea at ADCC due to the scoring system. Tonon has the ability to beat anyone in this tournament and anyone in the sport. He showed as much when he was seconds from defeating Kron Gracie at ADCC 2013. All eyes will be on Tonon, who has improved a ton since his last ADCC outing.

Lucas Lepri

Lucas Lepri is a cerebral grappler which should hold him in great stead for ADCC. Lepri's game isn't as flashy as other competitors but his technique is solid and he makes very few unforced errors. Offensively, Lepri's deep half-guard is primed for sweeps and when he does get on top he grapples like a seasoned veteran, preferring to take the back and look for the choke while keeping solid control over looking for spectacular submissions. Lepri will be difficult to defeat.

Otavio Sousa

This division is stacked, so stacked that I couldn't pick just two favorites. Otavio Sousa is a world champion with a slick game and depending on who he gets on his side of the bracket he could make the finals. Sousa suffered defeats at the hand of Lepri last year and will be eager to get a win against his old rival. For Sousa to be successful he will need to rely on his dominant positioning, rather than recklessly pursuing the finish which would be to his detriment. In my opinion the final of the bracket will inevitably be between Garry Tonon and either Lepri or Sousa.

The Underdogs

Gilbert Burns

There will be two UFC fighters competing at ADCC this year. The first is former UFC champion, Benson Henderson and the second is unbeaten welterweight Gilbert Burns. Gilbert Burns is a world champion in both gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu, who holds wins over Kron Gracie, Lucas Lepri and Caio Terra. If Burns' focus was solely on jiu-jitsu I would give him a greater chance of success, but he has spent his last few years focussing on his UFC career unlike the favorites who have been competing regularly in jiu-jitsu. Durinho has what it takes to make an impact but it remains to be seen if he has kept his great jiu-jitsu game sharp during his time in the Octagon.

Dillon Danis

If you are a black belt under Marcelo Garcia you have the ability to compete at the highest level. Dillon Danis has exploded onto the scene over the last 18 months and has shown that he has the ability to make it to the upper echelons of the sport. Is this years ADCC a little too soon for Danis? Perhaps, but I wouldn't rule him out right away. Casual fans may remember Danis for his exploits on Metamoris where he submitted UFC fan favourite Joe Lauzon in May.

Here is the list of competitors so far for ADCC 2015's 77KG division:

1. Gamrot Mateusz - Poland (1st European Trials Winner)
2. Abdulkadirov Magomed - Russia (2nd European Trials Winner)
3. Lachlan Giles - Australia (1st Asia & Oceania Trials Winner)
4. Young-am Noh - Korea (2nd Asia & Oceania Trials Winner)
5. Enrico Cocco - USA (1st North American Trials Winner)
6. Vagner Rocha - USA (2nd North American Trials Winner)
7. Davi Ramos - Brazil (1st South American Trials Winner)
8. Gabriel Rollo - Brazil (2nd South American Trials Winner)
9. Garry Tonon - USA (Invited)
10. Otavio Sousa - Brazil (Invited)
11. Lucas Lepri - Brazil (Invited)
12. Ben Henderson - USA (Invited)
13. Dillon Danis - USA (Invited)
14. Gilbert Burns - Brazil (Invited)
15. AJ Agazarm - USA (Invited)
16.*Yet to be announced