From every tournament there is always a lesson to be learned. Any viewer of the Abu Dhabi Pro can learn from watching that in a six-minute bout it is important to take the lead, as many of the finals in each weight class were decided by points. Also we can learn and safely say that Rodolfo Vieira is currently the king of the sport as he left the Middle East with yet another double-gold to his name. The heavyweight and absolute champion displayed a superbly well-rounded game as he showed off his impressive judo, his aggressive top game and his usually unseen guard play. “The Terminator” was once again untouchable; but what about the rest of the beasts at black belt?

Let’s now review the entire tournament and see who else were the big standouts besides the big man Rodolfo.

In the 141-pound category, there was a significant loss as Alliance World Champion Bruno Malfacine was unable to attend due to flight issues. But the show must go on and the rest of the competitors continued to put on a show for the fans. In the finale Brasa’s Thiago Barreto and Fernando Vieira went to battle and in a tight contest decided by only advantage points, as Vieira took the title by a 3-1 score.

At 154 pounds, the division had a serious make-over as many new faces came out to play, with the old faces we are used to seeing opting out to solely focus on the World Championships in California. In the end, a new face came around and now has made a name for himself; Samuel Canquerino took the title via points defeating Raphael dos Santos by a 15-0 score crowning himself Abu Dhabi World Pro champion.

In the deepest weight category, Roberto Satoshi came out and proved his European title in his first major championship at black belt was no fluke, as he once again put on another amazing display and has surely made himself into a front-runner for the Worlds in June. On his way to becoming World Pro champion he had to get through JT Torres for a second time this year, defeating the American phenom by a 2-0 score. In the final Satoshi would face another huge test against 2008 World Champion Lucas Lepri. In a back-and-forth affair, the end score would be decided by a mere sweep and Satoshi would be crowned, beating Lepri 2-0. In two tournaments at black belt, Satoshi had defeated JT Torres (twice), Michael Langhi and Lucas Lepri… not bad for a rookie.

Claudio Calasans is a man on a mission. The 2010 Worlds runner-up wants his shot at Marcelo Garcia again, and he is looking more and more in good form for the challenge as he took yet another Abu Dhabi title—his third in three years. What stood between him and a third consecutive title was an old foe in Pan heavyweight champion Lucas Leite. The two have met on many occasions and they have always gone in Calasans’ favor, and in the end, this one wouldn’t be any different. Unlike last time where Calasans finished Leite in impressive fashion, the two fought to a stalemate and a 2-0 score would hand Calasans his third title and the cash prize that goes along with it.

The 194-pound category would come down to two Atos teammates, Vitor Toledo and Andre Galvao. This time the two competitors settled it the way most people like to see—they fought it out. In the decider, the more decorated of the two, Galvao, proved to his friend why he was still one of the best and choked out Toledo from back-mount giving him his first World Pro title.

When the divisions were listed, it was read as the 207-pound category, but it might as well have been renamed to “Rodolfo’s category.” The reigning champion hardly broke a sweat throughout the day and all the way through the final as he submitted Gracie Barra’s Roberto “Tussa” Alencar with an armbar to seal the deal and become World Pro champion yet again. After the win, there was little excitement coming out of Rodolfo as he knew he still had one more challenge that day in the absolute finale.

With all the hype Rodolfo Vieira has been carrying of late, many have forgotten one of only three people to ever be named two-time absolute World Champion, and that is Alexandre Riberio. The former champion is making a case that he is back to play in 2012 and showed that he must not be overlooked as he defeated another former World Champion in Bernardo Faria. In a thrilling match, Xande came up big when it mattered most, landing a huge sweep with only seconds to go to secure the title. Xande is back!

In the over 220-pound category, “Buchecha” finally had his day in Abu Dhabi. In 2010 as a brown belt he finished third in his category. The following year he came in second losing to the experienced Lucio “Lagarto” in the finals. This year, the Checkmat star would not be denied as he rolled to the title winning in the final over Antonio Braga Neto by a footlock that left the former World Champion seriously injured. The sky is the limit for “Buchecha” and he will be looking to make his big stamp at black belt with Worlds coming up in June.

In the absolute it would come down to old versus new as long time black belt Andre Galvao went to battle with the new young gun in Rodolfo Vieira. What transpired in those 6-minutes of action was a spectacle for all Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fans. There was the all-around display with a great judo contest won by Vieira with a beautiful throw and then the rest played out on the ground as each exchanged sweeps on one-another. In the end, that throw was the difference as Rodolfo would eek out the win over Galvao by a 4-2 score.

With the Abu Dhabi Pro out of the way, we can now look forward to the major IBJJF championships such as the Brazilian Nationals and the Worlds. So stay tuned, the gi competition season is only getting better by the week! Osss!

Photo: Rodolfo Vieira (Gracie Mag)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor
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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.