With a little over one week to go before the first big IBJJF championship of 2012, today’s segment will take a look back at some of the most memorable fights the European Championships has had to offer since its inaugural event back in 2004.

Back in 2005, the Europeans was still just in its developing stage and was not yet so popular in the Jiu-Jitsu community (especially in the European area). But that doesn’t mean there weren’t numerous top black belts still coming out and competing for gold, and in 2005, the biggest Jiu-Jitsu rivalry was renewed in the black belt absolute final.

Roger Gracie and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza’s rivalry will always be remembered for the battles they had at the ADCC and Worlds. What few remember is the match they had at the 2005 Europeans which sparked the evolution in Jiu-Jitsu, soon turning Jiu-Jitsu into one of Europe’s most popular sports. In the battle between two black belts with five absolute World titles between them, Gracie would take the gold in a constant back-and-forth contest that would leave “Jacare” looking forward to their rematch they would eventually have in the Worlds absolute final, later that year. So, although the number of registered competitors that year didn’t catch anyone’s eye, that one match between two legends of the sport changed the entire outlook of Jiu-Jitsu in Europe. Since that historic match, the Europeans has become the second largest Jiu-Jitsu tournament in the World, only behind the World Championships and now ahead of the Pan-American Championships.

In 2010, the European Championships exploded in popularity, especially after the riveting absolute final between middleweight Gustavo Campos and ultraheavyweight Rodrigo Cavaca. In one of the most action-packed absolute finals to date, Campos overcame the size advantage Cavaca had on him and submitted the Checkmat leader with a devastaing armbar to triangle choke that left Cavaca in pain. It was a memorable final for the Atos black belt because after taking gold in his middleweight category, he didn’t even want to compete in the absolute, but his teammates talked him into it and in the end, he ended up with the most coveted title of the championship.

After Gustavo led team Atos in 2010 with the absolute gold, the group came back the next year and fared even better than the year prior. In 2011 (the biggest European championship to date), Atos won three different weight classes, even with the few black belt competitors they have.

Ary Farias was the first to bring home gold for the team, as he won the light-featherweight category, beating Bruno Malfacine in the final match of the tournament by a score of 6-4.

At featherweight, Team Atos was in complete control, as they had four competitors signed up in the weight class and all won their matches, closing out the entire podium together. Eduardo Ramos would take the gold with his win against then-Brasa competitor Ryan Hall. Bruno Frazzatto agreed to take silver after his match against Justin Rader, where he would finish him in a little over four minutes. The Mendes Brothers (Rafael and Guilherme) would both take bronze after Rafael tapped out Renan Borges in a rematch of the final from 2010 and Gui beat Brazilian Top Team black belt Leonardo Saggioro.

Lastly, the Atos crew would celebrate one more gold medal as Claudio Calasans would keep the middleweight title under the Atos name, beating Gracie Barra competitors such as Victor Estima and Bruno Alves to take home the gold. In the absolute final, Calasans would fall short against Sergio Moraes, but vowes that he will be back and looking for the absolute title in 2012.

In the 2012 addition, the tournament is expected to only be bigger and better than before and next week, all of the athletes registrations will be in and we can give you a full preview of who we believe will be at the top of the podium in Portugal! Osss!

Photo: Claudio Calasans with hand raised in last year’s European Championships (Ivan Trindade/Graciemag International)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor

Gianni Grippo is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Marcelo Garcia and trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York City. Besides being a big fan of the sport, Gianni is also an avid competitor and has ranked among the best in the World from blue to brown belt winning 6 IBJJF World titles and 7 Pan Championships. Still at 21, Gianni looks to continue to compete for many years to come as his main goals are to win the World championships at black belt and win the ADCC title.