This past weekend, the jiu-jitsu community was given one last final “hurrah” of the year at the most recent installment of the IBJJF’s World Championships, also referred to as the Mundials, held in Long Beach, Calif. In four days of action there was no shortage of thrills, upsets and eye-popping submissions. The 2012 Worlds had it all!

Now here is the recap of all the results in the weight classes and absolute division at black belt…

At roosterweight, as expected, we were given another final showdown between the division’s two greatest champions, Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra. In the match, the action did not pick up until close to the end when Terra came close to sweeping “Malfa,” which would tie up the score at 3-3 in advantage points. When time ran out, both athletes jumped to their feet believing they had won the bout. In the end, the title once again went to Malfacine, who picked up his fifth World title, fourth in a row and continued his streak of four straight Worlds final wins against Gracie Fighter Caio Terra. Although the decision was considered controversial by many, there is no doubting that Malfacine is still by far the most consistent and dominant roosterweight champion of all-time.

The light-featherweight category was expected to come down to either Gracie Barra stars Samuel Braga and Pablo Silva or Atos aces Guilherme Mendes and Ary Farias, but there was another competitor looking to put himself on the map. Laercio Fernandes is a well-known black belt who can be dangerous, but has never really been considered a title contender; well, all that changed this past weekend. Fernandes stormed his way into the final, beating former champion Braga in the quarterfinals by a 2-0 score and Farias by advantage points in the semi’s.

On the other side of the bracket though, there were no surprises as Mendes diligently worked through each one of his matches, defeating Henrique Rezende by a 12-0 score and choking out 2010 champion Pablo Silva.

In the final, the fight turned into a stalemate as neither was able to gain much of an edge. Fernandes, down most of the bout, was able to get a sweep in the final minute to tie it up, but that would not be enough in the eyes of the judges as they gave Mendes his third black belt World title.

At featherweight, Rafael Mendes was coming in on fire. He had just recently completed one of the most picture perfect performances of all time at the Pans as he submitted all of his opponents while not allowing a single point or advantage. At the Worlds though, the fights would come to be a lot more difficult for the reigning two-time champion. In the semi’s, he controlled the match with Mario Reis, but was never able to get the finish and would win by a 2-0 score. In the finals, he was matched up against long-time rival Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles, who came in with something to prove after having been submitted for the first time in April against Mendes.

The final would start off strong for “Cobrinha” as he landed an early sweep to take the lead. Mendes would come back strong though, landing a sweep, then almost passing to tie up the bout at 2-2. For the rest of the match, it came down to a battle of footlocks, and Mendes would have the upper hand as he attacked them even more so than Charles. When the judges made their decision, the aggressive attacks on the feet by Mendes made the difference, and Mendes would be crowned three-time black belt World champion along with his brother Guilherme.

At lightweight this year, the division was host to a new crop of young competitors looking to make their mark in the history books. Leandro “Lo” Nascimento and Roberto Satoshi were two of those guys that were highly-touted newcomers to the category. The two black belts would square off in a highly anticipated semi-final match-up after Satoshi had defeated “JT” Torres and “Lo” defeated Rodrigo Caporal. An even match for the first five minutes, the tides turned against Satoshi as “Lo” landed a quick sweep and guard pass, making the score 5-0, and when time ran out, he added on one extra sweep to increase his lead to seven points and take himself to the final.

In the final, Nascimento went against one of the veterans of the division in Lucas Lepri, who had reached his third final as a black belt. An attempted sweep by Nascimento was the only scoring of the match as “Lo” displayed a nearly impassable guard game and would win by a 1-0 score in advantage points, breaking a one to one tie in wins Lepri and “Lo” had against each other this year.

Due to the injury of reigning champion Marcelo Garcia, the middleweight category was wide open for the taking as there were a number of top black belts who could claim the title. In the end, possibly the biggest surprise of the championship was the rise of Gracie Barra black belt Otavio Souza. In the last year or so, Souza was looking into obscurity as he was not able to make much noise in his category, until now. In his semi-final match, he was able to upset Checkmat’s Lucas Leite and then turned in an even bigger upset by defeating the favorite Claudio Calasans of Team Atos. With Garcia out of the picture, many believed 2012 would be the opportunity for Calasans to take the title, but Souza came in just in the nick of time to swipe it away and force the Atos star to wait for his next opportunity in 2013.

A lot like the lightweight division, the medium-heavyweight category was filled with new up-and-comers looking to claim their first titles at black belt. These competitors’ paths were cleared once Andre Galvao decided to jump over the barrier to protest against the outcome of one of his purple belt student’s results. Galvao’s inappropriate behavior and disrespect towards the referees and the IBJJF had him suspended from competing that weekend, leaving a big hole in the category. That gave Soul Fighters black belt Diogo Sampaio Araujo his opportunity, and he would eventually make his way to the final. In that final, Romulo Barral made his comeback and stopped the newcomer in his tracks, finishing him with a choke while up 11-0. This was Barral’s third World title as a black belt and his first since 2009.

The heavyweight category also featured another final of old school versus new school as the finale would come down to Rodolfo Vieira of GF Team against Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro of Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu. The final was another classic heavyweight battle of takedowns as each competitor exchanged a pair of throws that made the score 2-2. What made the difference in the end were the guard passing attempts made by Vieira, as he was able to rack up four advantage points for the closely-contested win. The heavyweight category yet again belonged to the young GF Team star, and it looks to possibly stay that way for a long time to come.

The super-heavyweight category took a big hit on Sunday as quarterfinalist Antonio Carlos de Barbosa was unable to continue due to an injury, clearing the way for Bernardo Faria and Leonardo Nogueira to meet up in the finals together. The two Alliance teammates would do so, as expected, and close out the category with a gentleman’s agreement. On a coin toss, Nogueira was given the gold and his second straight World title in the super-heavyweight category.

At ultra-heavyweight, Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida demonstrated why he is one of the greatest black belts in the World today. Besides a nail-biting match with Maricio “Pe de Pano” in the semifinals, Almeida basically cruised through the division and dominated his final, defeating Leo Leite of Alliance with an armbar from the mount. The win gave “Buchecha” his first-ever gold at the Worlds in the black belt category, but there was still more to come from this amazing Checkmat ace.

In the absolute, the crowd in the seats and the audience watching via live internet stream around the World were all witness to arguably the greatest jiu-jitsu match ever in the quarterfinals between “Buchecha” Almeida and reigning champion Rodolfo Vieira. For a while, it appeared Vieira had things under control as he swept and passed the guard of Almeida to make the score 5-2. But the Checkmat star kept his composure throughout and little by little made his comeback. It started with a sweep, bringing the score to within one point, then once they stood up “Buchecha” went for a Hail Mary shot and scored a takedown on the World’s No. 1-ranked black belt. When time ran out, the crowd went into a frenzy as “Buchecha” was the victor, handing Vieira his first loss in the gi in over two years.

From there, Almeida did not stop as he submitted Bernardo Faria in the semi-final’s and then defeated Leonardo Nogueira in the finals in another thrilling comeback, landing a takedown in the final seconds to win by advantage points. In one of the more unlikely scenes, “Buchecha” of Checkmat was crowned 2012 black belt open class champion with his win over Nogueira in the final.

So there you have it! Your 2012 gi competition season is complete! But, the sport never stops here; there are always more tournaments around and we will continue to cover them and much more right here, so stay tuned! Osss!

Photo: “Buchecha” (white gi) claimed the Worlds Absolute Crown (Tatame)

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.