For 2022 the IBJJF has decided to make its long-awaited return to the European Championship. Due to Covid-19 wreaking havoc across the old continent, major Gi tournaments have been frozen since the last edition was held Lisbon, Portugal in 2020.
The IBJJF European Championships – The Start of the 2022 Gi Season
Traditionally the IBJJF European Championship is the opener for the new season, as it always starts in the first month of the new year. Scheduled to start on 15 February, this time the Euros are being held in Rome, Italy instead of its long-time host city of Lisbon.
As one of the most prestigious Gi tournaments in the world, fans can expect to see the sport’s best athletes on display. As in the past, Europe’s elite Jiu Jitsu practitioners will clash against big names from Brazil and the US for the gold in the first big Gi tournament of the year.
One hour before the registration deadline several big names appeared on the competition roster, including Tainan Dalpra and Gabi Pessanha. Dalpra and Pessanha join Eric Munis, Anna Rodrigues, and Mayssa Bastos as the reigning IBJJF Black Belt World Champions hunting for gold at Euros.
Some legends of the sport will be in the mix as well including Leandro Lo, Rafael Lovato Jr., and Paulo Miyao. There are more than 100 black belts registered for the Europeans, and some of the competitors who have the potential to reach the podium are Ffion Davis, Adam Wardzinski, Tommy Langaker, Espian Mathiesen, Bruno Lima and Serena Gabrielli.
Here are Jiu Jitsu Legacy’s predictions for the most hotly contested divisions:
Black Belt Adult Men’s Roosterweight
In the rooster weight two of Cicero Costha’s black belts have the potential for closing out the division – Thalison Soares and Francisco Andrade. With a lot of experience in the IBJJF, both athletes already hold many achievements in the organization.
Andrade placed 3rd in the last IBJJF World Championship at black belt and Soares is well known for winning everything in the color belts and taking both the Pan American and No-Gi World titles at Black Belt in 2019. Thalison also put on of the biggest upsets in the last Europeans when he defeated Jiu Jitsu legend and 10x IBJJF Black Belt World Champion Bruno Malfacine
Black Belt Men’s Adult Light-Featherweight
Making his return to the IBJJF Europeans and aiming for a second title at the event, is multiple time Pans and Worlds black belt Champion Paulo Miyao. Another favorite to medal in the division is another Cicero Costha athleta, 3x Black Belt Europeans Champion and Black Belt Pans and No-Gi Worlds Champion Hiago George.
Black Belt Men’s Adult Lightweight
Like always, this division is stacked with a lot of top competitors from all over the world. A huge favorite for the gold is the talented Brazilian, Marcio Andre, who holds three European titles at Black Belt. One of the biggest names and always a favorite in the division, is American star and ADCC 2017 Silver medalist AJ Agazarm.
From the European side of the division there are serious contenders for first place including Norway’s super star and former Abu Dhabi World Pro Black Belt Champion Espen Mathiesen, Max Linbland, and Dinu Bucalet.
Black Belt Men’s Adult Middleweight
One of the most exciting divisions in every tournament is the middleweight division, but this time one particular match has fans fired: the potential rematch between current IBJJF Black Belt World Champion Tainan Dalpra and the 2020 European’s Black Belt middleweight Champion Tommy Langaker.
Both athletas met in the semifinal at the last World Championship in California where Dalpra won by submission , but this time with the competition in Langaker’s backyard many fans expect him to try everything for the win and try to defend his title.
One more person from Europe that has a lot of attention is also from Norway and making his long awaited Black Belt debut: Tarik Hopstock. Another person to look out for from Europe is the always entertaining English black belt, Bradley Hill.
Black Belt Adult Men’s Medium-Heavyweight
The favorite for the medium-heavyweight gold is unquestionably the BJJ icon, Leandro Lo, who holds multiple titles in every big gi event including IBJJF Worlds, Pans, Abu Dhabi World Pro, Copa Podio,as well as his 2017 European double gold.
But to secure the gold medal, Lo first has to run through some of the most seasoned veterans from Europe, including Italian black belt Luca Anacoret (recently training and competing in the US) and Portuguese black belt Bruno Lima.
Black Belt Adult Male Heavyweight Division
Chasing his long desired IBJJF Black Belt European title, Polish superstar Adam Wardzinski gets closer and closer each time. Wardzinski placed second in the last edition of the Europeans, losing in the final to Keenan Cornelius by an advantage in a very close match.
Although the favorite, Wardzinski faces the difficult task of making it through fellow Polish black belts Jacub Zajkowski, who took bronze in the previous Europeans in 2020, and talented Atos athlete Dominique Bell who recently won the division at the Black Belt Masters 1 World Championship.
Black Belt Male Adult Super Heavyweight Division
Maybe the most stacked division at this year Europens is the super heavyweight division. Three big names from Brazil are set to take the crown, and all three of them also have the potential of winning at Absolute as well. The favorite, because of his last achievement by conquering the IBJJF Black Belt Super Heavyweight World title, is without a doubt Eric Munis.
However, Munis faces the possibility of a potential rematch with Fellipe Andrew who won the absolute in the last edition of the Europeans and pulled a big upset when he became the only person to submit Keenan Cornelius at Black Belt in the Gi. In their previous match Munis defeated Andrew in the final of the Worlds, so he knows it can be done, but it remains to be seen how a rematch will go.
Also hunting for the gold is Marcelo Garcia’s black belt, ADCC Silver Medalist, and No-Gi World Champion Vinicius ‘Trator’ Ferreira who is a tough challenge for anyone in any rule set.
But the division doesn’t end with the three Brazilian athletes, two of Europe’s best are in the mix for the title, the talented German black belt Eric Bergmann and Finland’s Perttu Tepponen who is a two time ADCC European Trials Champion.
When does the tournament begin and where should you watch it?
The 2022 European Jiu Jitsu Championship kicks off on Tuesday, February 15th with white and blue belts. Wednesday the white belts finish up, the blues continue, and the purple belts will start. Thursday sees the blue belts wrap up while the purple belts continue to battle. Friday the purple belts finish their division as the brown belts start their own.
As Saturday rolls around the brown belts will finish up and the juvenile divisions will start. The weekend also brings the main event as the black belt competitors start. By Sunday we’ll know who is going home with the title of 2022 European Champion!
The matches can be watched over at Flo Grappling or you can check back here after the event for a recap of the most exciting matches!
I am black belt under Bruno Bastos and I am very passionate about Jiu Jitsu. I do the sport for 13 years. Now I am an owner and head coach at one of the biggest Jiu Jitsu academies in Bulgaria and still an active competitor.