This past weekend was living proof as to why the European Championship is one of the most coveted titles to have in the world today. Never had I seen so much emotion and intensity go into a tournament on the mats, as well as in the crowd.

On the final Sunday, the building was on fire. Since it was a smaller gymnasium than the ones used in California, the crowd seemed to be more alert and aware of the big matches going on, and they would never lose focus of any given match until it was over.

Whether the audience was cheering for a certain competitor or not, there would be a loud and powerful roar in the arena when a big sweep or guard pass was made. The crowd also never held anything back, and would boo if they felt the referee made a bad call, costing someone a victory. It was pure adrenaline and pure passion that made the 2013 European Championships one to remember.

In the black belt categories, there were only a few surprises, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any spectacular fights. The favorites brought their best to the table, and it was simply amazing to watch.

At roosterweight, American Gracie Barra black belt Brandon Mullins put in a strong effort and ultimately walked away with his first major IBJJF gold in a gi event. The long and lanky Mullins was able to work his way around the always tough Koji Shibamoto of Tri-Force Academy in the finals.

In the light-featherweight division, there were a bunch of new, young black belts who showed their talent and proved their worth. But in the end, it came down to two veterans—Laercio Fernandes of Lotus Club and CheckMat’s Carlos “Holanda” Vieira. Former World’s medalists, both men made it through their respective brackets with two wins apiece, and in the decider, Fernandes would take the gold by a two-point difference. If Guilherme Mendes does stay true to his word and stays at featherweight in 2013 with his brother Rafael, then I would cast my vote for Fernandes as a legitimate favorite to win the Worlds in 2013.

At featherweight, the crowd was given an eye-pleasing war between Rubens “Cobrinha” and Augusto Mendes. In what is developing into a small rivalry, the two had a very heated battle that was won by Cobrinha by a 2-0 score. At the end, Cobrinha, a crowd favorite, was given a great round of applause, not only for his effort in the final but throughout the day. The four-time World champion looked impeccable.

Michael Langhi came into the championship as the big time favorite to take the lightweight crown, and he proved why on Sunday. In the final versus Vinicius Marinho, Langhi even went away from his traditional guard-playing attacks and looked for the guard passes instead, winning an entertaining but fairly one-sided bout, 9-4.

Coming into the final day, middleweight was the big division everyone was looking forward to, now that Fernando “Terere” was officially back in the mix. The final everyone wanted to see was DJ Jackson versus Terere, but it wasn’t meant to be, as Jackson was eliminated in his first match by Mathias Ribeiro via advantage points. That left the door open for a Claudio Calasans and Terere final that would in fact happen, but would end in a less than satisfying fashion. Just a little over seven minutes into the bout and down by two points, Terere’s leg crossed over Calasans’ hip, which is deemed illegal. He was disqualified immediately, handing Calasans his third consecutive European middleweight title.

At medium-heavyweight, we saw an old face in a new place, as Gracie Barra legend Romulo Barral claim his first European title in his first-ever trip to Portugal. The reigning World champion looked as sharp as ever, as he cleaned house by submitting all of his opponents via a choke from the mount. It’s safe to say that we may be seeing the return of the old Barral in 2013.

At heavyweight, Dimitrius Souza found his moment to put his name on the map, like I predicted he would. The rising Alliance black belt claimed his first major IBJJF title on Sunday as he cruised through the heavyweight category and defeated Leonardo Costa de Maciel of GF Team in the finals.

In the super heavyweight category, Bernardo Faria has always been known for his deep-half guard style and heavy smash passing style, and this tournament showed no different. In the final, Faria was matched up against fan-favorite Lucio “Lagarto” of Gracie Barra and he imposed his simple but effective strategy. Pull guard, sweep and lots of pressure on top. Unable to counter with anything, Lagarto would ultimately lose the contest by a 2-0 score, giving Faria yet another gold out in Portugal—something he is becoming fairly used to.

At ultra heavyweight, Alexander Trans held his ground on his homeland and didn’t allow the high-powered Brazilians to take his crown. Last year’s Euro champion proved why many consider him to be a major threat to win the Worlds soon, as he not only notched an upset win over Leonardo Nogueira, but then took out CheckMat icon Rodrigo Cavaca in the division’s finale. Both matches were decided in the final 30 seconds with guard passes by Trans, putting himself firmly on the map as a legitimate contender for a World title in June.

In the absolute contest, all the action took place on Saturday, as there would be no final on Sunday.

The semifinals contained great match-ups, with Bernardo Faria taking on Calasans and Alex Trans dueling with Leo Nogueira (this being their first of two meetings that weekend). In the first semi, Faria and Calasans were locked in an even match until Faria took the Atos black belt’s back for four points and won by that very score, 4-0. Then, in the second semi, Nogueira drew first blood in his encounter with Trans and submitted the sophomore black belt with a submission from the back, securing his spot in the final with his teammate.

So, much to the dismay of many, the two friends decided on a coin toss to determine who would take the top spot. It landed in favor of Nogueira, acting almost as a consolation for his loss at his weight class.

So, what did you guys think of this years installment of the Europeans? Who impressed you most this past weekend? Comment below and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Photo: Dimitrius Souza (white gi) (Deb Blyth/Gracie Mag)

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.