Multiple time IBJJF world champion Nicholas Meregali will make his no-gi debut at FloGrappling’s Who’s #1 event on Friday March 25th. In early 2022, Meregali began hinting at a transition to no-gi, posting pictures on his social media accounts training without the gi. Grappling fans immediately started speculating whether he would compete in a no-gi event, as all his prior tournament experience was in the gi.
2021 was quite the rollercoaster for the two-time black belt world champion. He announced a switch to the Dream Art team after a highly successful career under team Alliance, led by Mario Reis. While representing his new team at the 2021 IBJJF Worlds, Meregali was on a roll. He made it to the final of the super heavyweight division and the open class before being disqualified from both his weight class and the absolute final for making an obscene gesture to someone in the crowd during the match.
While 2021 was a big year for grappling fans as many of the main gi tournaments came back, 2022 was the year grappling fans and competitors had their eyes on. The ADCC world Championships are set to take place in September in Las Vegas and will likely be the biggest grappling event of all time in terms of revenue and viewership. Although Meregali started to train no-gi, he hadn’t won an ADCC trials event, so his spot was not yet secured at the ADCC Worlds. However, he received an ADCC invitation to the -99kg division in early February. The -99kg division had open spots, and who better to give an opportunity than one of the best gi competitors in recent years.
In order to prepare for the tough no-gi challenges ahead, Meregali has been training with John Danaher and Gordon Ryan, leaders of team New Wave jiu-jitsu. The team formed in 2021 following the split of the Danaher Death Squad. New Wave team member include Gary Tonon, Giancarlo Bodoni, Oliver Taza, and Nick Ronan, among many other talented grapplers. The preparation with team New Wave and the ADCC invitation prompted Meregali to make his competitive no-gi debut this month. His opponent will be Arnaldo Maidana of team Checkmat. Maidana is a 2017 IBJJF No-Gi World champion and a 2015 American Nationals champion with the gi. You can expect to see a lot of new techniques from Meregali as he’ll have to adjust his game due to the lack of gi grips.
Other matches on the card include Mikey Musumeci vs. Geo Martinez, Dante Leon vs. Mica Galvao, and Nicky Ryan vs Jacob “The Hillbilly Hammer” Couch. You can watch all the matches live on FloGrappling on Friday March 25th.