This past weekend, one of the more hyped IBJJF Opens of the year took place at City College in New York City. This was the IBJJF’s fifth annual event in New York, and, as usual, the event did not disappoint. Although it wasn’t flooded with high-level black belts like we are accustom to seeing at the major championships, such as the Pans and Worlds, the crowd had the opportunity to witness future high-level black belts compete for gold at all the lower belt ranks.

At purple belt, students from Alliance affiliates Cobrinha BJJ and Marcelo Garcia Academy stood out the most. While Garcia’s academy took gold in the featherweight and lightweight categories thanks to up-and-coming talents Joel Burgess and Mansher “Munchie” Khera, Cobrinha’s academy was well represented by Rehan Muttalib, who took both the middleweight and absolute divisions. In Muttalib’s weight class, he narrowly beat fellow Alliance member Jonathan Satava in the finals by advantage points, while in the absolute final he defeated Renzo Gracie competitor Oleksandr Karliychuk, taking his back towards the end of the match.

The black belts need to watch out for competitors such as Muttalib, Khera, Burgess, Satava and Karliychuk in the future, as each really proved their talent and their determination this past weekend. Also, look out for all of these young guns at the Worlds, where they’ll be shooting for that coveted World title.

At brown belt, we saw more future black belts battle for bragging rights and some hardware throughout a crazy Saturday in the basement gymnasium at City College. In the weight division, Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde stood out as he took the lightweight category, defeating his rival AJ Agazarm of Gracie Barra by passing the American’s guard and taking his back, winning by a 7-0 score.

In the absolute, Agazarm was able to redeem himself and get to the top of the podium in the end, closing out with fellow Gracie Barra member Gregory Felipe Santos. Santos was also another standout at brown belt, where he won the medium-heavyweight category to put his name on the map in the United States.

In the black belt category, for the second consecutive year the big man of the day was Otavio Sousa, last year’s middleweight World champion coming from Gracie Barra in California. The reigning champ had a disappointing showing at the Pans, losing to the eventual champion Clark Gracie, so this Open was a way for him to build his confidence back up and get back on the winning track.

At his weight, Sousa had two matches and won both, defeating “Sinistro’s” brother, Leonardo Itturalde, and a common foe in Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa. Then, in the absolute, Sousa once again went through his first two opponents—one being Atos athlete Leonardo D’avila—before closing the category out with his friend and teammate Philipe Della Monica. With Sousa back on track both mentally and physically, we could see him now in the right mode to make a good run at his second consecutive middleweight black belt World title.

In the team tournament, the battle actually did not come down to the points delivered by the black belts, as the two top teams (Renzo Gracie and Alliance) only had one black belt registered between them. The team title was fought in the blue, purple and brown belt categories. In the end, Alliance would prevail over the growing Renzo Gracie team by a 309 to 212 score. With the victory, team Alliance secured its third consecutive New York Open title.

With that, we are done with New York, and now it’s on south to the Brazilian National Champions and west to the United States’ Las Vegas Open. Stay tuned for next week’s updates on all the big winners in these next few important championships. Osss!

Photo: Team Alliance (Erin Herle/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.