This past weekend, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community was treated to the first major tournament of the 2013 season, the third annual Copa Podio Grand Prix. The event had many great match-ups in the heavyweight grand prix event, but it also had a terrific jiu-jitsu couple superfight bout that was something that no one had seen before.

In the couples match-up, we saw the duo of Mackenzie Dern and Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes take on Luiza Monteiro and Leandro “Lo” Nascimento. The scores of the two matches would be combined to determine the winner.

In the male half of the duo match-up, Lo defeated Tanquinho in a quick six-minute bout by a 5-2 score, giving Monteiro a three-point lead going into her match with Dern. But, in her first black belt match, the young Dern looked very sharp as she dominated the experienced Monteiro with key sweeps and won by a score of 8-2, making the total 10-7 in favor of team Dern/Mendes.

In the GP tournament, we saw many new and old faces going head-to-head in the fast-paced six-minute matches. In the preliminary rounds, all five competitors in their two separate groups competed against everyone in their own group and the men with the best two records advanced to the semifinals.

In what was considered “the group of death,” it was Rodolfo Vieira coming out of the five-man group unharmed, winning all four of his matches and all but one in very convincing fashion.

Vieira started off his day by dominating Alexandre Cecconi. Vieira passed Cecconi’s guard numerous times and then sealed it with a choke from the back. In the second round, the 2011 absolute World Champion crushed two-time super-heavyweight World Champion Leonardo Nogueira by a 9-0 score. After that, Vieira faced young American brown belt Keenan Cornelius. Cornelius showed a lot of heart and determination by displaying a nearly unpassable guard throughout the day, but his guard could not match Vieira’s pressure passing attack. The Lloyd Irvin phenom held Vieira off as long as he could, but eventually Vieira found his opening and passed Cornelius’ guard. He racked up more points by scoring a mount and passing for a second time to make it 10-0.

Then in his final match in the group, Vieira was pinned against Xande Ribeiro in a rematch of the IBJJF Worlds Finale in June. Vieira started strong, very quickly ending up on Ribeiro’s back and nearly getting the hooks in. But Vieira lost the back and ended up on the bottom, where he was forced to deal with Ribeiro’s passing. Although it was Ribeiro who would finish the match with a flurry of attacks, it would not be quite enough as Vieira took the match by advantage points.

When the semifinals came around, Vieira (the No. 1 seed of the yellow group) was left to face off against Alexandre Souza (the No. 2 seed of the green group.) And in the second semifinal, Antonio Braga Neto (the No. 1 seed of the green group) squared off with Leonardo Nogueira (the No. 2 seed of the yellow group.)

In the first semifinal, it was once again all Vieira. Souza avoided the tap, but could not avoid Vieira’s pressure and ultimately lost by a 7-0 drubbing.

In the other semifinal, Braga Neto was handed his first loss of the day by Nogueira after being defeated by a guard pass. The final score was 3-0.

In the finale, it came down to Vieira and Nogueira once again (both were members of the dreaded green group). Unlike the first face-off earlier in the day, Nogueira did not succumb to Vieira’s pressure and held tough, keeping the fight close. But it seems that nowadays, the only thing you can do with Vieira is hope to keep it close. Nogueira definitely fought better than he did earlier in the day, but he still would lose by two advantage points, sealing the title for Vieira, who became the first man not named Leandro Lo to win the Copa Podio Grand Prix Championship.

In one last superfight of the day, we were given a fantastic rematch between Felipe Pena and Leandro Lo. At the last Copa, the two athletes fought to a draw, so this was to settle the score. Through the entire match, Pena would lead by two points after scoring an early sweep. That lead would last until the 10-second mark, when in a desperate attempt, Lo was able to pass Pena’s guard for a thrilling comeback win, with the final score of 3-2.

There were a lot of thrills throughout this fast growing event! What did you, the reader, like best about the event? Also, was there anything you would wish that they would do to make the event better next time around. Comment below and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Photo: Mackenzie Dern and Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (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.