Jiu Jitsu World Championships 2018 Viewing Guide
Once again, I’ll be sharing the broadcast microphone on the final days of the Jiu Jitsu World Championships with my good friend Shawn Williams live on FloGrappling.com. We will be calling the action for all of the black belts divisions; including the black belt finals.
Flo is the official broadcast partner of the IBJJF World Championships and Flo’s live stream is by far the best way to experience all the action remotely. However, with so many mats going at once, it can be overwhelming once the black belts hit the mat.
How do I make sure I don’t miss any big matches?
As a commentator, Flo often has Shawn and myself looking at the live bullpen feed and the official schedule of events in real-time deciphering what mat we should jump to on our live feed.
While you can watch all mats streaming live on Flo, the FloZone feed is the one featuring our commentary. This is the channel we use to try and highlight some of the most exciting matches of the day.
Below, I’ll give a preview of some of the due diligence I do in preparation for the World Jiu Jitsu Championships. This includes evaluating divisions, storylines, and competitors to ensure I can bring viewers the best commentary experience possible…
Here we go.
The world’s best brown belts
The brown belt divisions at the IBJJF World Jiu Jitsu Championships are absolutely frightening. Before I go into a detailed breakdown of all the black belt divisions, let’s take a brief look at some brown belt competitors and storylines to watch.
Who should we keep our eye’s on?
There are a ton of rising stars at brown belt. Below I’ll list a quick, non-complete list of a handful of names that stuck out to me immediately and a quick sentence about each.
However, what makes brown belts exciting to watch is how many stud competitors come out of nowhere.
Just ask a top brown belt competing at the World Jiu Jitsu Championships about their bracket. You’ll likely get a response like, “it’s a tough bracket”.
This is because these brown belts know that sometimes its the guy you don’t know about that ends up being the talk of the town that year.
Tyler’s list to watch at brown belt
Kennedy Leonardo Maciel – Cobrinha’s son and a favorite for the light featherweight crown.
Cole Thomas Franson – 2018 Pan champion at featherweight earlier this year.
Marlus Salgado – Perrneial contender with a long resume filled with success.
Jeremy S. Jackson – A perennial contender and electrifying performer.
Oliver Taza – Long resume filled with a laundry list of accomplishments.
Levi Jones-Leary – A rising star who captured Pan gold earlier this year.
Rehan Muttalib – A difficult match-up for all competitors within the division.
Jonnatas Gracie – Last years purple belt absolute champion and current Atos super-prodigy.
Leonardo Teixeira Lara – An early favorite to close-out middleweight with Gracie.
Dominique L. Bell – An extremely dangerous and well-known star in the making.
Benjamin Silva IV – A feared CTA competitor with a history of gold.
Jake Watson – An exciting American star with shades of Meregali in his game.
Mauricio de Oliveira Santos Neto – A man with victories over the brown belt elite.
Kaynan Casemiro Duarte – A favorite for the brown belt absolute finals
Devhonte M. Johnson – Powerful and exciting Unity star.
Fábio Angnes Alano – Returning Pan champion at Super Heavy.
Victor Hugo – A smooth, but powerful competitor who is another absolute finals favorite.
what about the ladies?
Mayssa Caldas Pereira Bastos – This years returning Pan champion.
Thauany Xavier Corrêa – An early favorite for the featherweight division.
Gabrielle McComb Lima – Perrenial lightweight favorite and EBI finals veteran.
Margaret Knutson Aase – Won World’s at purple belt 6 years ago and is returning to competition.
Jessica Constance Swanson – A dangerous arm-destroyer.
Jessica Guedry – A rising star from Soul Fighters.
What to watch when the black belts hit the mat
Now, let’s dig into the black belt divisions.
I’ll highlight the statistical division favorites, highlight some potential dark horses, and briefly list relevant storylines for the division.
For the sake of brevity, I’m ging to keep each section fairly compact, so realize the information may be a bit short.
Male Roosterweight – Black Belt Division
This division will be defined by Bruno Malfincine. With the news that Caio Tera has withdrawn, it is all but Bruno’s to lose. He will likely set an untouchable record of 10 World Championships with his victory. The only questions should be, what comes next?
I would personally love to see Bruno challenge the light-featherweight division prior to retiring. A feat he hasn’t attempted since losing to Gui Mendes at the Pan Championship many years ago.
Division Favorite: Bruno Malfacine
Darkhorse picks: Hiago Gama, but he is on the same team as Bruno
Male Light-Featherweight – Black Belt Division
American fans will be cheering for Mikey Muscimeci. Mikey became a member of the elite group of Americans who have secured IBJJF World’s gold last year and will obviously be looking to do that again.
Although he is the favorite, there are a lot of potential roadblocks standing in his way. Atos, in particular, will be putting two strong challenges his way in the form of Pablo Mantovani and Ary Farias.
Also, the ever competitive Joao Miyao cannot be counted out.
Division Favorite: Mikey Muscimeci
Darkhorse pick: Pablo Mantovani and Joao Miyao
Male Featherweight – Black Belt Division
A division defined by Cobrinha and Rafa Mendes for nearly a decade. Now, completely up for grabs.
Featherweight stands as one of the most competitive divisions in recent memory.
Gianni Grippo returns as this year’s Pan champion, but faces stiff competition from foes like Leo Saggioro, Shane Taylor, and Marcio Andre just to name a few.
This division will be one of the most fun to watch; as it also includes famed jiu jitsu icon Megaton Dias and well-known bad guy, AJ Agazarm.
Division Favorite: Gianni Grippo
Darkhorse pick: Marcio Andre and Leo Saggioro
Male Lightweight – Black Belt Division
A division that returns one of the most feared guard passers of all-time, Lucas Lepri.
While many upstarts have burned bright on the way to the finals in recent years, Lepri has proven to be Kryptonite for all of them.
Have rising American stars JT Torres and Edwin Najmi improved enough in the last few years to dethrone Lepri?
Will we see the likes of Vitor Oliviera or “Sinistro” Iturralde find their way into the finals?
Division Favorite: Lucas Lepri
Darkhorse pick: JT Torres
Male Middleweight – Black Belt Division
Pound for pound one of the most talent-rich divisions in all of jiu jitsu.
While Gabriel Arges certainly returns as the favorite, he is still fairly young in his jiu jitsu career. It may be difficult for him to hold off some of the explosive veterans and surging upstarts.
Veterans like Claudio Calasans, Josh Hinger, and Otavio Sousa are constant threats within the division.
Up and comers like Isaque Bahiense, Dante Leon, Jaime Canuto, Tommy Langaker, and Yago de Souza are just a “good day” away from claiming the crown in this division.
Also, don’t forget about Marcos Vinícius da Silva Tinoco. He is dangerously consistent in his pursuit of World’s gold.
Division Favorite: Gabriel Arges
Darkhorse pick: Jaime Canuto
Male Middle-Heavyweight – Black Belt Division
What a terrifying division.
There are a handful of matches that will truly define this division.
They all center around the performances of Matheus Diniz, Lucas Barbosa, Horlando Montiero, Rudson Mateus, and Gustavo Batista. These are the five competitors that have been at the top of the division so far this year.
HOWEVER, there is a lot of potential for disruption.
For example, Nick Schrock, DJ Jackson, Thiago Sa, and Charles Negromonte all have the proven potential to upset any of these favorites.
Furthermore, we simply cannot count out veterans like Tarsis Humphreys or Murilo Santana.
Division Favorite: Lucas Barbosa
Darkhorse pick: Nick Schrock and Charles Negromonte
Male Heavyweight – Black Belt Division
The most competitive Heavyweight division in IBJJF World’s history in my opinion.
This year, Heavyweight includes the additions of a lot of stars that previously competed in other weight classes.
Felipe Pena and Keenan Cornelius are arguably the favorites, but it is very hard to define this year.
Veterans like Xande Ribeiro, Dimitrius Souza, and Jackson Sousa pose a real threat to everyone in the division.
But, the entire division is full of landmines. Guys like Patrick Gaudio and Felipe Andrew Leandro Silva have to be among some of the most feared additions to this year’s line-up.
Division Favorite: Felipe Pena / Keenan Cornelius
Darkhorse pick: Patrick Gaudio
Male Super-Heavyweight – Black Belt Division
This weight class is defined by a potential rematch between Leandro Lo and Nicholas Meregali. These two competitors had a barnburner in 2017 with Meregali securing the upset in his first year at black belt.
Lo is the favorite to win any weight division he enters (except ones that contain Buchecha), but it is fair to question if his conditioning is good enough at this weight class to beat someone like Meregali; given that he typically fights deep into the absolute division as well. Can Lo win 10+ competitive black belt matches against larger opponents?
That’s a lot of fighting for a guy who was doing middleweight just a few years ago.
Standing in between this rematch is Gutemberg Pereira – who Lo saw in the finals of the 2017 Pan absolute finals. Gutemberg is on the same side of the brackets as Meregali, so those two will have to renew their brown belt rivalry before we know who could potentially showdown with Lo (in all likelihood).
That being said, the side of the bracket that Pereira and Meregali are on also features Jared Dopp, Mahamed Aly, and Eliot Kelly. That’s a lot of tough fights for whoever emerges the victor. That has the makings for a potential upset.
Division Favorite: Leandro Lo
Darkhorse pick: Gutemberg Pereira and Nicholas Meregali
Male Ultra-Heavyweight – Black Belt Division
Also known as the weight class that “Buchecha” is in.
Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is the tall mountain in the world of jiu jitsu. Since taking the torch of baddest man on the planet from Rodolfo Vieira several years ago, Buchecha has remained undefeated in IBJJF competition; winning his division, absolute, and all superfights along the way. He is currently on pace for a record-setting number of IBJJF absolute titles.
This division is no joke, though.
It features the likes of Max Gimenis, Tanner Rice, Victor Honorio, Luiz Panza, Gustavo Dias, and Joao Gabriel.
History would tell us that we could see another showdown between Joao Gabriel and Buchecha. Unfortunately for Gabriel, he has not seen much success against Buchecha in the past (in terms of final results).
However, a guy like Victor Honorio could shake things up this year; as he has been performing very well so far this year.
Panza is another guy who has been close to the finals in the past. While he is teammates with Buchecha, a close-out between these two is certainly possible; as Panza can make short work of anyone.
Division Favorite: Buchecha
Darkhorse pick: Victor Honorio and Luiz Panza (close-out candidate)
Female Roosterweight – Black Belt Division
A very small division that is still developing. The division is defined by Rikako Yuasa who already has a World Championship to her name at a higher weight class.
Division Favorite: Rikako Yuasa
Darkhorse pick: Tassia Ferreira
Female Light-Featherweight – Black Belt Division
A weight class with a growingly heated rivalry between Gezary Masuda and Talita Alencar.
Matuda had the upper hand in their last match-up, but only time will tell if they will meet again with the same result.
The division also features talented competitors with all the tools to complete the upset. Liwia Gluchowska is new to the division and has shown to be successful so far in keeping her name on the podium.
Kristina Barlaan is a perennial top contender, and Pati Fontes is a tough match-up for everyone. However, newcomer Amanda Montiero may prove to be the true bracket buster among the bunch.
Division Favorite: Gezary Matuda
Darkhorse pick: Talita Alencar and Amanda Montiero
Female Featherweight – Black Belt Division
Since Mackenzie Dern left the weight class 2 years ago, there’s been a void at the top.
One of the most talent-rich female divisions has become a total free-for-all with no clear favorite.
Tammi Muscimeci is one of the divison’s most feared competitors. A top finisher in the sports most prestigious tournaments, Muscimeci is returning to featherweight, and has to be considered a favorite for the podium.
Last year, Maxine Thylin closed out the division with her, then teammate, Ana Schmitt. However, Thylin only had one match to get to the finals where she closed out with Schmitt, who is now no longer a teammate. The two would potentially meet in a semi-finals showdown this year.
That all being said, Bianca Basilio has been on a tear recently and I’m betting no one would be surprised to see her in the finals this year. However, Karen Antunes may stand in her way once again. Karen returned to competition this year and upset Basilio in the semi-finals of the Pan.
This division is anyone’s guess.
Division Favorite: Tammi Muscimeci
Darkhorse pick: Bianca Basilio and Karen Antunes
Female Lightweight – Black Belt Division
I’ll recuse myself from picking this division; as I will also recuse myself from commentary during these matches (my wife is a competitor inside this class)
Division Favorite: —
Darkhorse pick: —
Female Middleweight – Black Belt Division
This division was called the most competitive women’s division by my good friend Andre Borges of BJJHeroes.com. You can read his great breakdown here. His breakdown is more in-depth than anything I could write here.
As competitive as it is, there is a very obvious clear favorite. It will be a division battle to ultimately upset “Baby” Ana Carolina Vieira.
Division Favorite: Ana Carolina Vieira (“Baby”)
Darkhorse pick: Raquel Canuto and Amanda Alequin
Female Medium-Heavyweight – Black Belt Division
This division is the most competitive it has ever been.
Claudia Doval, Monique Elias, and Luanna Alzguir could all lay claim to the favorite in this division.
Doval is the reigning Pan champion, but Monique coming up from middleweight will prove to be a big challenge should they meet in the finals.
Division Favorite: Claudia Doval
Darkhorse pick: Monique Elias
Female Heavyweight – Black Belt Division
This is another female division that is more competitive than ever.
Nathiely de Jesus is moving up into the weight class but could still be considered the favorite. Jessica Flowers and Yacinta Nguyen-Huu offer stiff competition, but only time will tell if they can handle Nathiely’s rising star.
Division Favorite: Nathiely de Jesus
Darkhorse pick: Yacinta X. Nguyen-Huu and Jessica Flowers
Female Super-Heavyweight – Black Belt Division
This division is avoided by many females for a reason.
Reigning champion Tayane Porfírio has looked all but unstoppable since joining from the brown belt ranks. It certainly doesn’t look like many can stop her right now.
It may be more likely that she could be upset in the absolute; however, this division features more names in it than ever before. It won’t be a cakewalk.
Division Favorite: Tayane Porfírio
Darkhorse pick: Carina Curvelo Santi
That’s all my World’s jiu jitsu picks and data
I hope you enjoy the broadcast on FloGrappling this weekend if you don’t have a chance to check out the action live.
If you see me during a break from the broadcast booth feel free to stop me and tell me why all my picks and information are wrong 🙂
All the best,