Rome, home of the Colosseum, famous for its use in Ancient Rome for gladiatorial contests. This coming weekend Rome will host a different type of combat sports event, the IBJJF Rome Open and the IBJJF European Nogi Open. As a preview to the event, the FME blog will be looking at the Nogi portion of the weekend focusing on the Black belts.
While the Nogi version of the European Open isn’t as busy as the Gi tournament in January, there are a good number of big names entered, looking to collect vital IBJJF ranking points.
B L A C K B E L T B R E A K D O W N
One of the divisions to look out for is the Male lightweight division with athletes such as ADCC veteran Nicolas Renier as well as Polaris veteran and Scramble athlete Tommi Pulkkanen. However, the standout favourite is Atos athlete Michael Liera Jr, after closing out the IBJJF Pans and placing third at the NOGI worlds last year look for him to be standing on the top step in Rome!
In terms of numbers the Male middleweight division is the deepest, it also contains a few big names. Watch for ECJJA’s head honcho Darragh O’conaill to be fighting for that top spot after a strong 2017 winning multiple IBJJF opens and a super fight on ACB, he also came a close second to Isaque Bahinse at last year’s European Nogi. It won’t be an easy task though, he will have his work cut out for him against other strong competitors such as Eduardo Rios and Alliance’s Alec Baulding.
The biggest name of the weekend has to be Lucas Barbosa, ‘The Hulk’. Barbosa comes to Rome on a massive winning streak, after collecting Double gold at last year’s World Nogi Championship outlasting guys such as Jackson Sousa and Joao Gabriel! Lucas followed that by winning the absolute division at the European Championships and more recently he closed out the final of the Pan Ams with his Atos team mate. His all action style and relentless top game will make sure every one of his matches is entertaining!
While the black belt female divisions aren’t heavily subscribed (only 5 female black belts have entered) we get a rare sighting of the legendary Michelle Nicollini on the jiu jitsu mats. She comes up against Leoni Munslow of the UK, a Tatami Fightwear sponsored athlete and veteran of Polaris, this should be an action packed affair with potential for it to go either way!
B E S T O F T H E R E S T
At brown belt, ones to watch include “Danaher Deathsquad” member Ethan Crelinsten in the featherweight division. Tarik Hopstock of Frontline Academy is always standing on the podium at the major competitions in Europe, a double gold winner at purple belt at this event. He also took Silver at the Europeans in Lisbon this January. At Purple belt watch for ECJJA’s Ellis Younger in the lightweight division, the Progress/Roll Supreme athlete is always involved in an exciting scrap. Prana Jiu Jitsu’s Cemil Karahan will be looking to add a European Nogi Title to his European Gi absolute title which was taken in emphatic fashion!