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 99kg category.
In previous years, the 99kg has provided some great moments and while there isn't a lot of hype about this years division, there seems to be a nice mix of up-and-comers as well as former champions.
Joao Assis is the reigning and defending ADCC champion. In 2013, Assis dominated all comers, scoring a heel hook against Leo Nogueira in the semi- finals and then out pointing Dean Lister in the final. Assis' strong base makes him a very difficult man to finish. The improvements in Assis' wrestling and top game over the last 3 years have really made all the difference and lead to him being perhaps the most dominant guy at 99kg in the world. Assis rarely gets submitted and is somewhat safe. The Brazilian has what it takes to neutralise anyone in the bracket on the mat and he is always able to score a few points so expect him to be there or thereabouts this time.
Since returning his focus to competitive grappling DeBlass has been on a tear. DeBlass more than held his own with Assis recently, in a match that ended a draw and he has improved immeasurably since his last appearance at ADCC 4 years ago in Barcelona. DeBlass' guard is ever so dangerous, and his foot lock game is slick too. Expect DeBlass to be able to either submit most of his foes early or secure a sweep and win on points. Outside of Joao Assis, DeBlass has to be seen as the favourite this time out.
It feels downright wrong labeling Xande Riberio an underdog, but I feel that he will find it difficult to win gold in Sao Paulo. For those who are new to the world of submission grappling, Xande Ribeiro is one of the most legendary grapplers in the heavier divisions. Ribeiro is a 2-time ADCC champ and an all round beast. The reason that I feel Xande isn't in line to win this year is that his skills haven't really improved at the same speed as Assis' or DeBlass'. Xande is a legend but he will find it hard to submit or out point the powerful Brazilian Assis, or the wiley DeBlass. Expect Xande to reach the semi finals and at a push, take home bronze.
Rodolfo Vieira is as tough as they come and if ADCC was a submission-only tournament he would likely be the favourite. Vieira's style is really aesthetically pleasing, and his choking game is among the best in the division. Vieira has shown some vulnerabilit - while he rarely gets submitted he has given up some bad positions and lost points that he really shouldn't have in recent years. I expect Vieira to make a serious run at the title, but to ultimately be defeated on points in a close match in the semi finals.
Check out the full list of competitors for the -99KG division below:
Male -99 kg
1. Joao Assis - Brazil (ADCC 2013 Winner)
2. Tomasz Narkun - Poland (1st European Trials Winner)
3. Kamil Uminski - Poland (2nd European Trials Winner)
4. Tobias Green - Australia (1st Asia & Oceania Trials Winner)
5. Yukiyasu Ozawa - Japan (2nd Asia & Oceania Trials Winner)
6. Tom DeBlass - USA (1st North American Trials Winner)
7. Jason Bukich - USA (2nd North American Trials Winner)
8. Roberto Alencar - Brazil (1st South American Trials Winner)
9. Cassio Francis Da Silva - Brazil (2nd South American Trials Winner)
10. Alexandre Ribeiro - Brazil (Invited)
11. Hector Lombard - USA (Invited)
12. Felipe Pena - Brazil (Invited)
13. Rodolfo Vieira - Brazil (Invited)
14. Jimmy Friedrich - USA (Invited)
15. Adam Sachnoff - USA (Invited)
16. Lukasz Michalec - Poland (Invited)