On February 15 2022 the IBJJF made its long awaited return to the European Championship. From 2004 to 2020 Lisbon, Portugal was host to the Euros but because of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions the organization moved the event to Rome, Italy. (the traditional home of the IBJJF No-Gi Europeans).
Scheduled for five days, the European Championship still had fewer competitors compared to previous editions due to the rules and restrictions of the pandemic. Nevertheless the tournament itself offered some fantastic displays of Jiu Jitsu and fireworks and had some big names from around the world.
As always, the Euros kicked off with the fired up blue belt matches. Never disappointing, the blues provided a lot of scrambles and displayed impressive talent for their level.
Dream Art’s young prospect, Joao Victor, was able to take the Absolute title in the Adult Blue Belt Division by showing a very complex style by mixing both bottom and top game with a very technical style – something rare to see from an ultra heavyweight blue belt!
Day two of the IBJJF 2022 European Championship was all about the Male Purple Belt Division and especially about the Absolute Division. As we’ve seen in the past, the winners of this division will likely be the names that will have an impact in the sport in the coming years.
Showing an improvement en masse, the European purple belts’ quality and standards proved equal to those from the States and Brazil – with several European competitors taking gold in some of the divisions. But again the double gold king of the purple belt division was from Brazil – with Grappling Fight Team’s rising star Pedro Rubim taking the double crown.
Day four of the European Championship was one of the most hyped moments of the tournament due to the fact that some of the competitors traditionally will soon be spotted at the Black Belt stage, making an impact. Atos Jiu Jitsu’s young talent from Brazil, Lucas Foguinho, secured double gold in the brown belt division and hit beautiful armbar finishes in three of his eight matches.
In eight of the ten Male Adult weight classes, athletes from Europe medaled, and for the first time since the beginning of IBJJF Euros three competitors from the old continent won gold in their divisions: Espen Mathiesen, Bruno Lima, and Adam Wardzinski.
But again the king of the absolute was Brazilian super star and former absolute champion Felipe Andrew.
Here are some highlights from the most interesting Adult black belt divisions:
Male Adult Featherweight Black Belt Division
Starting opposed from one another in the brackets, American Isaac Doederlein and Brazilian Diego Soder dominated their division all the way to the final with both athletes showing a beautiful and aggressive display of Jiu Jitsu.
In the final a more strategic match was expected, but Doederein switched to offensive mode from the beginning of the match, working hard on top and trying to figure out a way to deal with Soder’s guard with a very aggressive guard pass style.
Diego was able to slow Isaac down and in the last ten seconds of the match secured a tight knee bar that awarded him an advantage in the scorecards and earned him the victory.
Male Adult Black Belt Lightweight Division
Making a big impact in the division and becoming one of the stars of the event was Checkmat’s new Black Belt and Thiago Abrue’s protege Marcelo Fausto. Fausto submitted American Jiu Jitsu super star AJ Agazarm in the first round and Dinu Bucalet in the second to secure his spot in the semifinal, where he also beat one of the division favorites, Igor Filiz.
In the finals the Brazilian rookie clashed with Norwegian Black Belt and berimbolo master Espen Mathiesen.
In the very start of the match Marcelo start attacking Espen’s feet and few times was very close to securing the finish, but experience played a role as the match continued and Mathiesen was able to counter the last foot lock attacks with very close back takes from the berimbolo and secure the victory and a gold medal.
This was the long awaited title for the Norwegian who since 2018 (the year he was promoted to Black Belt) has lost in the first round of the competition.
Male Adult Black Belt Middleweight Division
The match that everyone was hoping for happened, with the rematch between Norway’s Black Belt and last Europeans Middleweight Champion Tommy Langakher and AOJ prodege and current World Champion Tainan Dalpra.
As expected, the match started with big scrambles as the athletes flew around the mat with Dalpra scoring a sweep in the first minute and Langaker evening the score immediately. With several more exchanges Tainan was able to secure top position and later get the finish with a beautiful armbar to win the division.
Male Black Belt Medium Heavyweight Division
This division displayed plenty of talent from Europe and perhaps for the first time had a final with two Europeans in it: pitting Bruno Lima from Portugal versus Szilard Sule from Hungary. Known for his excellent guard game, Bruno switched tactics by showing his passing skills and won the division.
Male Black Belt Heavyweight Division
Showing a display of beautiful Jiu Jitsu, Polish Black Belt Adam Wardzinski fought his way to the final where he faced talented Atos Black Belt and current IBJJF Master Worlds Black Belt World Champion Dominic Bell. Bell had just had a very challenging semifinal match with another Black Belt from Poland, Jacub Zakowski (now living in England).
In the beginning of the match Wardzinski was able to secure his famous butterfly guard, allowing him to end the match with a clean sweep which earned him his long desired Black Belt European Championship that he has been chasing since he last won the event as a brown belt in 2016.
Male Adult Black Belt Super Heavyweight Division
The star of the tournament was unquestionably Felipe Andrew who in the last Europeans won the Absolute division when he became the first person to submit Keenan Cornelius in Gi Black Belt competition, although he ultimately lost the final of his division.
Submitting five of his opponents, this year Andrew earned his second chance for double gold at Euros. In the super heavyweight division final Felipe faced off against Vinicius ‘Trator’ Fereirra, one of Marcelo Garcia’s top black belt’s, 2019 ADCC World Championship Silver medalist, and IBJJF Black Belt No-Gi World Champion.
The story of the match was a classic display of a pressure passer against a guard player with Trator on top and Andrew on bottom. In the last 50 seconds of the match, Felipe secured a sweep followed by a guard pass, which proved enough to win the title.
Male Adult Black Belt Ultraheavyweight Division
In this division giants, Rafael Lovato Jr. made his return in the Adult division. Hitting three submissions on the way to the finals, Lovato beat the best that Brazil and Europe put in front of him.
Male Adult Black Belt Absolute Division
The final of the Male Adult Absolute division was a fearsome clash between Felipe Andrew and rising Dream Art star Yatan Bueno.
At the beginning of the match both athletes had a fierce leg lock exchange that had the crowd on their feet. The exchange ended with each athlete receiving two advantages, a rare score to see awarded.
In the last minute of the match Felipe was able to secure two more advantages with near sweeps and takedowns that earned him his second gold medal in the tournament.
Male Adult Black Belt Champions
- Rooster: Thalison Soares (Cicero Costha)
- Light-Feather: Pulo Myao (Cicero Costha)
- Feather: Diego Sodre (Nova União)
- Light: Espian Mathiesen (KMR)
- Middle: Tainan Dalpra (AOJ)
- Medium-Heavy: Bruno Lima (AMA)
- Heavy: Adam Wardzinski (Checkmat)
- Super-Heavy: Felipe Andrew (Alliance)
- Ultra-Heavy: Rafael Lovato Jr. (6-Blades)
- Absolute: Felipe Andrew (Alliance)
Female Adult Black Belt Champions
- Rooster: Thais Loureiro (Atos)
- Light-Feather: Mayssa Bastoss (Unity)
- Feather: Anna Rodrigues (Dream Art)
- Light: Nathaly Ribeiro (Checkmat)
- Middle: Thalyta Lima (Vision BJJ)
- Medium-Heavy: Maggie Grindatti (Fight Sports)
- Super-Heavy: Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)
- Absolute: Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)