The last IBJJF World Championship took place over two and half years ago in May 2019, leaving the top gi competitors in the world without major direction in their training and ultimately changing the landscape of the sport. Prior to the pandemic, the IBJJF calendar had a huge impact on competitors training and teaching schedules. Since the 2019 edition of the Worlds, most tournaments have been no-gi and we’ve seen high level gi athletes put more time and effort into no-gi training and competition. Since the IBJJF announced the 2021 Worlds in October, however, it’s clear that the gi competition scene is very much alive and well with all the sports major teams bringing their best competitors. While some have chosen to sit this year out for various reasons, there are plenty of new and veteran black belts to make this one of the most exciting Worlds yet.
2019 World Champions look to repeat in 2021
At the 2019 Worlds, GF Team’s Mayssa Bastos won her first title as a black belt, defeating four time world champion Rikako Yuasa in the final. Mayssa will look to add a second title to her resume this year, but will have to get through tough competitors such as Lavinia Barbosa of Checkmat and Brenda Larissa of Fight Sports. At light feather, returning champion Tammi Musumeci will also be looking to add a second title to her collection. The berimbolo specialist will have to get through Jessa Khan of Art of Jiu-Jitsu and Ana Rodrigues of Dream Art on her way to the title.
Beatriz Mesquita has long ruled the lightweight division, winning five titles in the weight class as well as an open weight title in 2014. This year she’ll be going for her seventh title. Her division will include Luiza Monteiro, Hannette Staack, Nathalie Ribeiro, and Margot Ciccarelli. Bia lost to Nathalie Ribeiro less than a week ago in Brazil at the AJP Queen of Mats and will be looking to avenge that loss on her way to another Mundial title.
At the 2019 Worlds, Gracie Barra black belt Andressa Cintra won the medium-heavy division, but this time is signed up to compete as a middleweight. In her division are Raquel Canuto, Thamara Ferreira, and Vannessa Griffin, all of whom will present legitimate challenges. Ana Carolina Vieira, who has won two world titles in the middleweight division, moved up to medium heavy this year. In her bracket are Elisabeth Clay of Ares BJJ and Chloe McNally of Unity Jiu-Jitsu in a five person bracket.
Rookie black belts look to shake up absolute division
Much like in the male absolute division, the defending champion will not be returning for 2021. Nathiely de Jesus won the female absolute in consecutive years, but recently had a baby so is unable to compete. So who can we expect to contend for the title this year? There are two females competing this year who have won black belt absolute titles before; Gabi Garcia and Beatriz Mesquita. Two athletes who are expected to shake up the absolute are Gabrieli Pessanha and Yara Soares. Gabrieli had a storied career through the colored belts and has won the 2021 Pans, World Pro, and South American Championships. Yara Soares of Dream Art won the absolute at the 2021 Pans and also won the 2021 World Pro. Gabrieli and Yara are both signed up for the super-heavy division and have the size and technique to claim the absolute crown.
The female black belts will compete on Saturday December 11th and Sunday December 12th.