In a new event this past Saturday, the IBJJF showed that it is always in the process of continually growing and trying to improve itself, which can only please the competitors and fans. The IBJJ Pro League event was the first-ever IBJJF event that held a cash prize for each black belt division winner, something many people have wanted to see happen for a long time now.

The black-belt-only championship consisted of four different weight classes and since there was no absolute the athletes only had one chance to earn that cash prize. In each weight category there were six athletes, four of whom were automatically in for accumulating a high number of points in IBJJF competitions this year. The other two spots were determined earlier in the day, at the regular Fall Open Championship, with whoever won their respective weight category at black belt earning their spot into the tournament.

In the lightest weight category, which combined roosterweights and light-featherweights, Caio Terra showed once again why he is one of the best black belts in the world at any weight class. Although he only needed two matches to secure his gold, they were against two difficult opponents in Laercio Fernandes and Daniel Beleza. Terra got through both with style.

On the opposite end of the bracket, although Fernandes fell short against Terra, he showed why he is receiving more and more attention as he defeated Samuel Braga for the second time this year. Fernandes has had a breakout year in 2012, so even though he came up short this weekend, expect to see a lot more from this Alliance black belt in the future.

In the category that would end up belonging to Leandro “Lo” Nascimento, the big story was the rise of the red-headed fireball kid, Tanner Rice. The 19-year-old black belt under “Cobrinha” made his IBJJF debut at black belt and certainly did not disappoint. He earned his spot in the tournament by winning the lightweight category and then took full advantage of his opportunity by defeating recently crowned No-Gi world champion Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes. Although Rice has proved that he is an amazing talent (winning the Worlds at brown belt this year), no one could have expected such an upset.

In his next match, Rice would step aside to let his Alliance teammate Lucas Lepri go into the final against Lo. In the final, a lot like at the Worlds, the match would be decided by one advantage point, once again going to the reigning world champion, Leandro Lo.

In the middleweight/medium-heavyweight category, the jiu-jitsu community finally got to see what probably would have been the Worlds final in June, had it not been for Andre Galvao being disqualified for excessive arguing with a referee. In a close 10-minute battle between Romulo Barral and Galvao, we would see a test of strengths—Galvao with his guard passing and Barral with his amazing spiderguard skills. In the end, the fight would be decided by the referees after a 4-4 tie, and the decision went to Barral. The two both had friendly exchanges and kind words for one another, but don’t expect this to be the last battle between these two icons.

Finally, in the category that brought out the “big boys,” Roberto “Tussa” Alencar showed that he is still a force to be reckoned with. After being questioned a bit after losing to brown belt Keenan Cornelius at the WPJJ Trial in New York, Tussa has come back strong, winning both the No-Gi Worlds and now the first-ever IBJJ Pro League Event. Unfortunately, the final did not happen due to an injury of Bruno Bastos, who was suppose to fight Tussa. But either way, Tussa showed solid jiu-jitsu and let everyone know he isn’t going away anytime soon.

So, what did everyone think of the first Pro League event? If you think there should still be improvements made to the event, what should they be? Comment below and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Photo: Caio Terra (Ivan Trindade/GracieMag)

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.