The IBJJF World Championships have long been considered the pinnacle of competitive jiu-jitsu. The black belts are always the main focus, as they represent the highest levels of technique and athleticism. However, the Worlds also serve as an excellent preview into what the future black belt divisions will look like. Many athletes who thrive in the purple and brown belt divisions are often only one to two years away from their first world titles as black belts. The following athletes won the 2021 IBJJF Worlds as brown belts and have already been promoted to black belt. You can expect to see them competing in the black belt divisions at the major tournaments in 2022.
Of all the athletes competing at the 2021 World Championships, Jansen Gomes was one of the most anticipated. Representing team Checkmat, Jansen came up under the tutelage of his father and his old brother in Copacabana. Jansen had an amazing run in the colored belt divisions, getting wins over the likes of Tainan Dalpra, Rui Alves, and Mateus Rodrigues, among others. Jansen has a dynamic and complete style, utilizing a combination of takedowns, guard passes, sweeps, and submissions to earn his victories. Jansen won brown belt Worlds in the medium-heavyweight division, of which the current champion at black belt is Gustavo Batista of Atos Jiu-Jitsu. We will likely see Jansen’s black belt debut in either the 2022 Europeans or Pan Ams.
The Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy has been churning out champions since the academy was founded in 2012. AOJ focused on their kids programs from the start, many of whom are now winning at the highest level in the adult divisions. Iasmim Casser started her martial training with the goal of becoming a fighter. She started jiu-jitsu as a way to defend herself on the ground, but quickly found a passion for gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu. After joining the Mendes brothers at AOJ, Iasmim has won her weight and the absolute divisions at multiple major tournaments, including winning the brown belt middleweight division at the 2021 IBJJF Worlds. She was promoted to black belt after exiting the mat and will now be competing at the highest level in the sport. With champions such as Andressa Cintra, Thamara Ferreira, and Raquel Canuto in the division, we’re sure to see some exciting matchups with Iasmim in the division.
The black belt rooster weight divisions have historically been dominated by Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra. However, in recent years, athletes such as Mikey Musumeci, Thalison Soares, Lucas Pinheiro, and Jonas Andrade have added tremendous talent to the division, with Musumeci winning the last two titles. Matheus Azancot of Ares has been on the top of the podium at major IBJJF podiums for some time now, winning the 2020 Pans and the 2018 American Nationals. Led by Professor Osvaldo Queixinho in Arizona, Matheus has developed an aggressive guard game that he can use to sweep or submit his opponents. He was promoted on the podium of the 2021 Worlds after three tough matches in the brown belt rooster weight division. We’ll likely see Matheus competing at the major championships in 2022.
Sebastian Serpa of Carlson Gracie Team has had his best year as a competitor in 2021. After winning IBJJF open tournaments across the U.S, he won the light featherweight division at the Pans in September. At the Worlds, Sebastian won four matches, using his highly refined berimbolo game to attack his opponents. The current light featherweight kingpin is Diego “Pato” Oliveira in a division that also includes Meyram Alves, Malachi Edmond, and Rene Lopez, among others. With plenty of exciting potential matchups, Sebastian will be a competitor to watch for years to come in the division.
Part two will feature another group of new black belts who put on amazing performances at the 2021 Worlds as brown belts.