Over the weekend (June 2-5, 2022) the IBJJF World Championship returned to Long Beach, California. The event was once again held in the legendary Walter Pyramid, which was the traditional location of the tournament for many years, but was relocated during the pandemic.
As the most important and prestigious gi tournament dof the year, the World Championship brought out the very best of the sport.
The event featured several historical moments, including Ffion Davies becoming the first ever British IBJJF Black Belt World Champion, Isaac Doederline becoming the 6th American to conquer the title, and Mica Galvao becoming the youngest Black Belt World Champion in history at the age of 18.
Here are some of the most interesting highlights from Black Belt weight divisions.
Men’s Black Belt Rooster Weight division
The rooster weight division was very even with a lot of close battles for all of the competitors. The road was open for a new king and the young Brazilian prospect Thalison Soares, who decided to make his camp in the famous AOJ gym, took gold.
Men’s Black Belt Light-Featherweight division
This was one of the most exciting divisions of the weekend, and much of the excitement came from the performance of Hiego George, Diego Pato and Meyram Maquiné. These three each came to the pyramid not only to win but to put on a show for the fans.
Maquiné was on a tear, with a 100% submission success leading up to the final where he was able to finish the American Nationals, Brazilian, and Pan American Champions in a row, even submitting his team mate Wesley Santos.
For the final Meyram out scored second team mate Diego Pato in a very close referee’s decision.
Men’s Black Belt Featherweight division
A division stacked with 10 top-tier athletes who all had the potential to take home the gold, the featherweights did a fantastic job on keeping the crowd on their feet. The two who made it to the final were American star Isaac Doederline and young Brazilian talent Diego Sodre.
Both gentlemen were on fire for the whole weekend, but the final between them was more calculated and strategic. With 15 seconds left on the clock Isaac was able to secure a sweep which earned the Alliance Black Belt his long awaited World title and made him just the 6th American to win the IBJJF World Championship at Black Belt.
Men’s Black Belt Lightweight division
The lightweight division was unquestionably devastated by the two teenagers black belt newcomers who took down all of the veterans one by one on their way to the final. Nineteen year old Tye Ruotolo and eighteen year old Mica Galvao brought nothing but joy to the fans watching their performance.
The final between the two young phenoms was as expected a blast and a very different match from their no-gi matchup in WNO earlier this year. Around the halfway point Mica was able to sweep Ruotolo, later nearly passing Ruotolo’s guard and then securing the back of the Atos young star.
Tye managed to escape in the last seconds of the match but was forced into an arm lock which he ended up surviving as well. With the final victory and the title Mica Galvao became the youngest ever IBJJF Black Belt World Champion.
Men’s Black Belt Middleweight division
In the middleweight division it all came out to two former teammates Tainan Dalpra and Andy Murasaki who crushed their way to the final by taking down some of the division’s very best.
In the final Murasaki was able to secure an early two point by tripping Dalpra. However Tainan proved that his guard skills are just as effective as his passing and was able to sweep the young Atos athlete, ending up in a dominating position and finishing with a choke which earned him his second World title.
Men’s Black Belt Medium Heavyweight division
Deciding to move one weight division up, former middleweight World Champion Isaque Bahiense was able to take down the current Medium Heavyweight Champion Gustavo Batista in the semi final.
On the other side of the bracket was the veteran Jiu Jitsu legend and 7 time IBJJF Black Belt World Champion Leandro Lo. Lo holds the enviable record of being the only competitor with World titles in 5 different weight classes.
The match between Bahiense and Lo was a strategic exchange of sweeps and takedowns where Leandro was able to secure a good double leg to win his 8th world title.
Men’s Black Belt Heavyweight division
We saw another dominant performance by Kaynan Duarte who faced off against a Black Belt veteran in the final, Alliance’s Dimitrius Souza.
Souza has been close to taking the gold on several occasions in his career and proved that he still can compete with the top competitors in the division but ultimately it was Kaynan’s day. Kaynan controlled the pace of the match and was awarded two advantages for nearly passing Dimitrius’s guard which earned him his second IBJJF Black Belt World title.
Men’s Black Belts Super Heavyweight division
On his path to becoming one of the most dominant gi competitors on the planet, Nicholas Meregali was able to submit all of his opponents in both his division leading up to the final. On the other side of the bracket, 24 year old Erich Munis was doing exactly the same thing, submitting everyone on his way to reach the final of the Super Heavyweight division.
The final in the division between the two Dream Art teammates was a sweeping battle and Munis was the one who was able to score last which earned his second IBJJF Black Belt World title. After the match Erich got down to his knees and proposed to his corner woman something that was never done in past World events. She said yes!
Men’s Black Belt Ultra Heavyweight division
Maybe the most shocking final on Sunday was the clash between the giants, Victor Hugo and Gutemberg Pereira, who dominated their division.
Gutemberg was able to control the pace for most of the match putting Hugo on full survival mode. Gutenberg was winning the match with a 2 points lead but with a late half guard comeback sweep Victor Hugo was able to position himself in a good spot. Seconds later Hugo secured the points for a pass and mount, moving the score to 9×2 in his favor and winning him the gold medal.
Men’s Black Belts Men’s Open weight division
The last match of the 2022 IBJJF World Championship was the rematch between the teammates Nicholas Meregali and Erich Munis.
This time Meregali made some adjustments, deciding to pull guard first to control the pace and slow Munis down. This proved to be a good tactical decision which led to Meregali scoring an advantage which allowed him to win the IBJJF Black Belts Absolute title.
Women’s Black Belt Rooster Weight division
The young Unity athlete Mayssa Bastos again had the perfect game to smoothly conquer her division for the third time. With this third gold medal, Bastos made the IBJJF Grand Slam, winning all the major IBJJF tournaments in 2022: Euros, Pans, Brazilians and Worlds.
Women’s Light-Featherweight division
The division was dominated by two competitors: Dream Arts’ Anna Rodrigues and Pedigo SF Tammi Musumeci. The two ladies had an easy run to the finals and Rodrigues had the better of their double guard pull battle, winning the finals by points.
Women’s Featherweight division
On her third attempt at the World Championship, Bianca Basílio finally managed to obtain her long awaited gold medal this weekend. In the past two Worlds she fought her way to the finals, but only was able to take second.
In the final she met the GFT veteran Amanda Monteiro Canuto. For the most part the battle was fought standing, where Basílio won the exchanges and earned a three advantage lead to win the match.
Women’s Lightweight division
Another historical moment was made in the biggest Women’s division when for the first time a British athlete won the IBJJF World Championship at Black Belt. Ffion Davies had a spectacular run, submitting two incredible athletes Kristin Mikkelson (Brazil 021) and Vitoria Vieira (GFT) and also winning against the well-known Unity competitor Margot Ciccarelli.
In the final Davies met with leg lock specialist Janaina Menezes who managed to slow down the Welsh competitor’s passing with several leg lock attempts and a good lapel guard game. But earlier in the match Ffion was able to secure 2 points with a takedown and stayed on top to the end of the match. These early points proved decisive and gave her the victory and the gold.
Women’s Middleweight division
The young and talented Thalyta Silva reached the final of another big tournament and proved that she is a force in the division despite her short tenure as a black belt.
On the other side was the always submission hungry Andressa Cintra who dominated the division in 2019 and 2021. With a fast and close submission attack early in the match Andressa took the referee’s decision for the gold.
Women’s Medium Heavyweight division
In this division we saw a fantastic run by the rookie black belt, Luciana Mota from Alliance. Luciana had a terrific career in the color belts and is now making a statement in the black belt division.
Mota defeated two of the favorites in the division, Maria Malyjasiak and Ingridd Alves. But in the final the new black belt ran into a wall in the face of Ana Carolina Vieira who chased her 5th world title in the division. Ana Carolina had a clean performance in the final with a sweep, pass and an arm triangle finish to once again clame her crown.
Women’s Heavyweight division
Returning to gi after a 2 years focusing on no-gi, Rafaela Guedes met in the final with the rising star in the heavyweight division Larissa Dias, who herself had a very successful career in the color belts.
As expected, Larissa opted to pull guard in the beginning of the match which proved to be a problem for the former double gold Pan American Champion Guedes. After the halfway point of the match Dias was able to secure a good back attack with a body triangle and a near RNC finish gave the rookie black belt what she needed to win the World title.
Women’s Super Heavyweight division
In this small division the Women’s super heavyweight final was the third Worlds final between Yara Soares and Gabi Pessanha.
Pessanha again was able to win by outscoring Soares 4 to 2.
Women’s Open weight division
Zenith’s Amy Campo had an outstanding performance in her Black Belt debut at Worlds as she took down both Yara Soares and Ana Carolina Vieira.
In the final, Campo faced off against the reigning champion of the Women’s division, Gabi Pessanha. The final was spent mostly inside Gabi’s closed guard, with Amy doing her best to open the guard. But the active guard attacks of Pessanha were enough to earn her the decision and the Open weight title.