When looking at the brackets for the 2021 IBJJF World Championships, there were many new black belts expected to win their first titles, but there were also some veterans expected to add another title to their collections. One such veteran was Kaynan Duarte of Atos Jiu-Jitsu. Since receiving his black belt in 2018 atop the Worlds podium after a brown belt championship run, Kaynan has gone on to become a dominant force in the heavyweight division. He’s won IBJJF Pans, Pans No-Gi, ADCC, Abu Dhabi Pro, Spyder Invitational, and many other important competitions.
Despite winning a world title in the gi in 2021, Kaynan focused much more on no-gi. He competed at Subversiv, Road to ADCC, and Who’s #1, showing new wrinkles in his game. His investment in the leg lock game paid off as well, with three heel hooks and one calf slicer submission in 2021. Part of Kaynan’s interest in the no-gi game may be related to the compensation, or lack thereof, that he’s received competing in gi. The IBJJF currently offers cash prizes to its world champions and to winners of its grand prix events, which also take place just once a year as part of the World Masters event. 2021 world champions received payouts based on the size of their respective brackets, with a maximum potential payout of $7,000 for a division with 33+ competitors. The absolute division winner currently receives $10,000, so the maximum total payout for a winner of their division and the absolute is $17,000.
Recently, many athletes have been more vocal about the lack of compensation from the IBJJF. In an interview with Vitor Freitas via VF Comunica, Kaynan Duarte discussed this issue.
“I still don’t know if I’ll fight the next Worlds in 2022,” Duare said (Translation provided by Vitor Freitas). I don’t know if it’s going to be something I’m aiming for, you know? I want to be better paid, have more support. Surely the reward could be better. What they (IBJJF) are paying is nothing, you know? I did seven fights in their event. I fought because I wanted to, you know? I’m fighting because I want to. When I don’t want to fight anymore I won’t fight. They helped me in some ways for sure. Where I was and where I am today is because of the IBJJF. I can’t not be grateful. But a fight I do in another event I win three times or four times more than I win at the Worlds. I won $5,000 at the Worlds. In a fight with Meregali I would make a lot more money, you know? A big fight. That $5,000 amount doesn’t even pay for my preparation.”
Based on these comments and Kaynan’s 2021 no-gi campaign, it’s fair to assume that we’ll likely see him focus on the 2022 ADCC weight class and absolute titles, where he could potentially win $10,000 for his weight division and $40,000 for the absolute.
The full interview (Portuguese only) can be found below: