Less than a week stands between the grappling worlds and the start of the 2017 ADCC tournament. This year continues the tradition of bringing together some of the best and most well-known names in competitive grappling. This preview focuses on the 99 kilograms division that is without defending champion, Rodolfo Vieira who has commitments in mixed martial arts. But, it also welcomes a 2015 champion in Yuri Simoes who is moving up to a new weight class; creating a compelling dynamic worth watching this weekend.
With Vieira out, eyes are looking at Simoes and Felipe Pena as two of the biggest favorites to take home the title this year. Simoes pulled through a very deep 88 kilogram division in 2015 and has continued to build momentum since. The Caio Terra standout has earned a number of wins in the last few years that have turned heads to his dominance. He’s coming off of a victory over Olympic silver medalist, Travis Stevens, at Fight to Win Pro 44, even taking down the judoka. Along with that win he’s put together victories over the likes of Murilo Santana, Dean Lister and Garry Tonon.
Pena is looking to build on that second place finish back in 2015 where he defeated some tough opponents on his side of the bracket. Since then he’s picked up wins over the likes of “Xande” Ribeiro, Andre Galvao and submitted Gordon Ryan. The “Draculino” black belt stands as one of the top names to thwart Simoes’s quest to become a two division champion this year.
Yet, these aren’t the only names that can find themselves with their hands raised in victory. Rafael Lovato, Jr. earned a second-place finish back in 2011 in the 88 kilogram division and has returned, moving up a weight class. Joao Assis is another competitor that brings a wealth of experience to the mats this weekend. He won the event back in 2013 and placed third in 2015 and second in 2011. Jeff Monson is another name that can bring excitement to the division as the long-time veteran is a two-time champion back in 1999 and 2005 with two additional silvers and one bronze in the event.
Jake Shields is another name that will draw attention as the former MMA champion comes back to ADCC. In 2005 he earned bronze in the 77 kilogram division before going on to success in Strikeforce, UFC and other organizations.
The 99 kilogram division is filled with talent throughout the bracket. With Vieira facing challenges in mixed martial arts, the door is open for another man to walk out with the title. Whoever reaches that point has their work cut out for them with these names and every other person that shows up.
ADCC 2017 is set for September 23 – 24 and is live for viewing on FloGrappling.com