The 2018 IBJJF World Championships is just around the corner, and as always Fighters Market Europe is on hand to provide you with a preview the favourites and dark horses of this year’s Black Belt divisions. This year sees the beginning of a changing of the guard, with the retirement of the Mendes brothers a couple of years ago, it seems more big names have chosen to not compete this year. Athletes such Romulo Barral, André Galvao and Cobrinha have chosen to sit out and will most likely be there in a coaching capacity. However, there are multiple new rookie black belts to be aware of who have been making noise in the black belt divisions making the divisions just as exciting as usual. Another thing to note is the large divisions both on the men’s side as well as the women’s, with all the divisions looking deep with talent and women’s divisions with only 2-3 athletes signed up, a thing of the past, displaying the growth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Black Belt Male
Favourite - Bruno Malfacine - Alliance
Dark horse - Caio Terra - Caio Terra Association
Rookie to watch - Hiago Gama Sousa - Alliance
It’s hard to look past Bruno Malfacine winning his 10th world title, as always, his closest rival, Caio Terra is entered and always stands a chance to upset the odds as he has done before, winning the world title twice. 2018 Pan American Champion Tomoyuki Hashimoto will also prove to be a tough opponent and could also cause an upset. The Rookie on the scene is Alliance’s Hiago Gama, a 2017 brown belt world champion, he won the Black belt rooster division at the 2018 Europeans so watch for him to maybe upstage his alliance team mate Malfacine.
Favourite - Mikey Musumeci - Brasa CTA
Dark horse - Ary de Melo Farias - Atos JJ - Rio Claro
Rookie to watch - Alexssandro Pinto Sodré - Clube Feijao JJ
It’s hard to look past 2017 Black belt world champion Mikey Musumeci, even with João Miyao hungrily still chasing his first world title, and coming off a World Pro Championship. Atos JJ’s Ary Farias is always a danger. While last year’s brown belt world champion Alex Sodre only just recently promoted to black belt will be looking to make an immediate mark on the world stage.
Favourite - Marcio Andre da Costa Barbosa Junior - Nova Uniao
Dark Horse - Rafael Mansur - NS Brotherhood
One of the more open divisions, with Cobrinha not returning to defend his title. It’s hard to pick out a stand out favourite as this division is full of elite competitors who are all beating each other throughout the year. Marcio André is a former world silver medallist and this year’s European Champion, he also had a good run at the Brasilieros before being forced to pull out due to muscle cramps. Gianni Grippo has been a constant presence on the world stage this year, placing second at the Europeans, Brazilian Nationals, World Pro and King of the Mats, after becoming Pan American champion, he will be hoping to win the big one. We also have athletes such as the UAEJJF lightweight King of Mats Leonardo Saggioro a medallist last year and Team Lloyd Irvins Shane Jamil Hill-Taylor who could steal the crown. NS brotherhoods Rafael Mansur is another dark horse who just took the Brazilian National Title and will be looking to continue his momentum. This division truly is tough to call.
Favourite - Lucas Alves Lepri - Alliance
Dark Horse - Michael Remiglio Liera Jr - Atos JJ
Rookie to watch - Espen Mathiesen - KMR BJJ Kimura Europe
It’s hard to look past Lucas Lepri winning another world title, especially due to dominance of his past couple of world titles, he looks simply unstoppable. JT Torres looks closest to Lepri especially after the Tatami Fightwear athlete defeating him at ADCC and his own dominant victory at the 2018 Pans. The dark horse of the division must be Michael Liera Jr, after closing out the Pans with JT and taking Quad Gold at the European No Gi, he will be hoping 2018 is his year. The Norwegian Espen Mathiesen is our rookie to watch, after becoming the first European to take home a black belt world pro title his confidence is at an all-time high and will be looking to upset the odds.
Favourite - Gabriel Arges de Sousa - Gracie Barra Thousand Oaks
Dark Horse -Yago Vinicius de Souza - NS Brotherhood
Rookie to watch - Tommy Lilleskog Langaker - KMR BJJ Kimura Europe
It seems Gabriel Arges has taken a stranglehold on the middleweight division in recent years, submitting the likes of Calasans and Tinoco, and again he is the favourite. He will have to take on the likes of Isaque Braz and the returning Yago de Souza. The rookie to watch has to be one of Europe’s most exiting fighters Tommy Langaker, with absolute bronze medals at the Europeans and Pans, and submitting Erberth Santos, he certainly has the skill set to take gold.
Favourite - Lucas Daniel Silva Barbosa / Gustavo Espindola Batista - Atos JJ
Dark Horse - Horlando de Jesus Monteiro - GD Jiu Jitsu Association
Rookie to watch - Rudson Mateus Sarmento Teles - Caio Terra Association
Another division where it’s hard to pick out a clear favourite, but we will go with a similar result to this year’s Pan Ams, with Gustavo Batista and Lucas Hulk both as favourites. European Champion Horlando Monteiro is a dark Horse due to the hot and cold nature of his performances, when he is on form, he is unstoppable. We shouldn’t forget the recently crowned King of Mats Charles Negromonte, another dark horse. While Brazilian National Champion Rudson Matheus is our rookie to watch for and will be one guy many will be looking to avoid with his dangerous closed guard.
Favourite - Felipe Carsalade Araujo Pena - Gracie barra
Dark horse - Alexandre Couceiro Ribeiro - Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu
Rookie to watch - Fellipe Andrew Leandro Silva - Zenith BJJ
After winning the World Pro, Felipe Pena is the favourite of this division, the Gracie Barra athlete has such a well-rounded game he is dangerous from anywhere. He will have to contend with athletes such as the European Champion Keenan Cornelius, the Checkmat pair of Jackson Sousa and Adam Wardzinski, and last year’s World silver medallist Patrick Gaudio. Our dark horse is multiple time world champion Xande Ribeiro, Xande will be hoping to roll back the clock and pull out a vintage performance to take an unlikely gold ! While our Rookie to watch is the exciting and dangerous Felipe Andrew of Zenith BJJ a Pan absolute medalist this year and Brazilian National Champion he will be looking to showcase his talents at the biggest stage of them all.
Favourite - Leandro Lo Pereira do Nascimento - NS brotherhood
Dark horse - Mahamed Aly Santos da Silva - Team Lloyd Irvin
Rookie to watch - Gutemberg de Jesus Santos Pereira - Gf Team
It seems strange seeing Leandro Lo at super heavyweight, but as has been noted, he is looking for revenge, and wants Nicholas Meregali. With double gold at the 2018 Pans and a strong win at the recent ACB he is a slight favourite over the Brazilian National super heavyweight champion Meregali. Some other strong competitors include Mahamed Aly and the brown belt world champion Gutemberg Pereira making his worlds black belt debut!
Favourite -Marcus Vinícius Oliveira de Almeida - checkmat
Dark horse - Victor Hugo Honório P. da Silva - Qatar BJJ
Who else but Buchecha would be favourite, can anyone not called Roger Gracie stop him in the kimono. While there are some strong veterans in this division it is difficult to see anyone stop Buchecha.
Favourite - Rikako Yuasa - Paraestra Shinagawa
Dark Horse - Thamires Diógenes de Aquino - GF Team
A champion at Lightfeather weight, Rikako Yuasa made her real weight, Roosterweight, her domain once the IBJJF introduced the class. The way she won the division last year with a quick sub in the final makes it hard to see anyone challenge her.
Favourite - Gezary Matuda Kubis Bandeira - American Top Team Coconut Creek
Dark Horse - Patrícia Maria N. Fontes dos Santo - Checkmat
Rookie to watch - Amanda Monteiro Nogueira - GF Team
Gezary Matuda opens as a slight favourite over Ana Talita Alencar, despite Alencar winning last year’s worlds over Gezary, she has won this year’s Pan title beating Alencar! Watch out for last year’s brown belt world champion Amanda Nogueira who also is the current European Black belt champion to make some noise.
Favourite - Bianca Basilio - Atos Jiu jitsu
Dark Horse - Tammi Musumeci - Caio Terra Association
With Bianca Basilio being the Pan absolute champion and this year’s world pro champ, you’d be hard pressed to bet against her. Tammi Musumeci is a dangerous vet looking for her first black belt world title. While defending champ Emilie Thylin will be looking to retain her crown.
Favourite - Beatriz de Oliveira Mesquita - Gracie Humaita
Dark Horse - Luiza Monteiro Moura da Cost - Atos Jiu Jitsu
Rookie to watch - Catherine Fuhro Perret - Checkmat
Bia Mesquita is the current European and Pan champion and should rightly be considered the favourite, however she’ll face top competition in Luiza Monteiro a former world champ herself and the new rookie on the block, Catherine Perret of Checkmat.
Favourite - Ana Carolina Vieira Srour - Gf Team
Dark Horse/rookie - Renata Marinho Moreira - Alliance
Dark horse/Rookie - Raquel Dayne Kaleialoha Canuto - checkmat
Dominant is the word to describe Ana Carolina Vieira, mainly competing on the UAEJJF scene this year, she took many Grand Slam titles and the World Pro title. Alliance’s Renata Moreira and Raquel Canuto of Checkmat are both rookies and dark horses of the division. Renata won the world’s last year as a brown belt and has had a steady black belt career placing 2nd at the Brazilian Nationals, while Raquel came second at the worlds at brown belt last year but soon after being promoted to black belt she took the world No Gi title. Watch for both these rookies to make it hard on Ana Vieira!
Favourite - Claudia Fernanda Onofre Valim Doval - De La Riva JJ
Dark Horse - Monique Medeiros Elias - Alliance
Rookie to watch - Andressa Mezari Cintra - Checkmat
After taking gold at the Europeans, Pans, and Brazilian Nationals, Claudia Doval is our favourite to take gold in the medium heavyweight division and complete the grand slam. Standing in her way is Monique Elias from Alliance a former world champ herself. Our rookie to watch is last year’s double gold medallist at brown belt Andressa Cintra, who can cause an upset and take the gold in her first year as a black belt!
Favourite - Nathiely Karoline Melo de Jesus - Unity Jiu jitsu
Dark Horse/Rookie - Maria Malyjasiak - Zenith BJJ
Dark horse/ Rookie -Yacinta X. Nguyen-Huu - Toronto BJJ
Last year’s World champion and this year’s Pan champ Nathiely de Jesus rightly is the favourite, she will however face tough competition from two rookies Maria Malyjasiak and Yacinta Nguyen-Huu, last year’s world medallists at brown looking to make a statement this year at black belt !
Favourite - Tayane Porfírio de Araújo - Alliance
Dark Horse - Carina Curvelo Santi - G13 BJJ
It’s hard to see anyone step up and beat Tayane, she has been so dominant that it seems so unlikely anyone can break her hold on the world title. Carina Santi of G13 BJJ is a newly crown Brazilian National champ and will be looking to end Tayane’s dominance.