This past weekend, the third of four major gi championships was completed out in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when the Brazilian Nationals held its 18th annual championship. It ended up being a historic one at that.

As usual, the championship was a great success with many enticing headlines, including Paulo Miyao winning the brown belt open weight and new black belts proving their worth against the veterans. But in the end, the day belonged to Rafael Lovato Jr. On the final day of the event, Lovato made history by winning the black belt absolute category, something no American had ever done in this event. First of all, this shows how much the sport has grown in the United States over the years and, second, how you must never overlook the talented American competitor, who can tend to be underestimated at times.

For Lovato, winning the absolute was also redemption after he fell short in his heavyweight division, failing to even make it to the podium stand. But that disappointment did not hold the Ribeiro student down for long. He came out on fire in his absolute final against GF Team’s Ricardo Evangelista. In the final, Lovato dominated and finished the match with his signature kimura, a submission with which Lovato is accustomed to finalizing his bouts. With this unprecedented result, one can only figure that opponents will look out for him more carefully as we come closer and closer to the Worlds in Long Beach, Calif.

In the weight divisions, two of the biggest names were Joao Gabriel Rocha of Soul Fighters and Juan Caio Kamezawa of Alliance. Both first-year black belts took gold in their respective categories, with Rocha claiming the superheavyweight division and Kamezawa taking lightweight.

In his final, Rocha had to overcome two-time black belt World champion Leonardo Nogueira, and he did so in impressive fashion. Although a heavy underdog in their final, Rocha smashed Nogueira in winning by an 11-2 score and setting a high expectation for himself coming into the Worlds next month. The newly promoted black belt has shown that he doesn’t have any rookie jitters and that he is gunning for a black belt title while still in his rookie year.

Kamezawa would have some assistance in his final as he closed out the category with his teammate Michael Langhi. But simply getting to the lightweight final is never an easy thing to do. The 2012 brown belt World champion had to go through what many believe to be the deepest category out of all the black belt divisions, yet he was able to get through it all and end up with the gold. Next month, the Worlds looks to be far tougher for the young Alliance ace, but now with this victory there is sure to be a lot of confidence going in that he can bring even more upsets at the Pyramid.

The big standout in the female category was Luanna Alzuguir of Alliance. The always consistent black belt was looking to rebound from some disappointing losses in Abu Dhabi, where she was defeated by Beatriz Mesquita in both her weight and absolute categories. Alzuguir did end up rebounding strong by winning both her middleweight division and the absolute at this event. In her absolute final, she had a much-anticipated bout with Checkmat’s Michelle Nicolini, and the Alliance black belt ended up walking away as the victor by points. Alzuguir will come back to the Worlds a heavy favorite in her category, but will she be able to get by the likes of Mesquita to help close out with Gabrielle Garcia like they have done many times before? We shall see in just about a month’s time.

As for the rest of the weight categories, both male and female, here are your results:


Rooster: Ivaniel Oliveira (CheckMat) defeats Felipe Costa (Brasa) by points
Lightfeather: Pablo Santos (Gracie Barra) defeats Carlos Vieira by points
Feather: Leonardo Saggioro (BTT) defeats Mario Reis (Alliance) by judges’ decision
Light: Juan Caio Kamezawa (Alliance) closes with teammate Michael Langhi (Alliance)
Middle: Murilo Santana (Barbosa JJ) closes with teammate Adriano Silva (Barbosa JJ)
Mediumheavy: Rodrigo Fajardo (Gracie Barra) defeats Tarsis Humphreys (Alliance)
Heavy: Dimitrius Souza (Alliance) defeats Leonardo Maciel (GF Team) by points
Superheavy: Joao Gabriel Rocha (Soul Fighters) defeats Leonardo Nogueira (Alliance) by points
Ultraheavy: Ricardo Evangelista (GF Team) defeats Rodrigo Cavaca (CheckMat) by points

Lightfeather: Angelica Vieira was the only one in her bracket
Light: Luiza Monterio (PSLPB Cicero Costha) defeats Marina Ribeiro (CheckMat) by points
Middle: Luanna Alzuguir (Alliance) submits Barbara Gomes (Universidade de Brasilia)
Mediumheavy: Diana Menezes (Bonsai) defeats Talita Nogueira (Ryan Gracie)
Heavy: Fernanda Mazzelli (Striker) defeats Andressa Correa (Alliance)
Superheavy: Luiza Fernandes (Gracie Barra) defeats Michelle Nicolini (CheckMat)

So, there are your complete results for the Brazilian National Championships. There are still a few IBJJF Open championships that remain, but for many the sole focus is now the IBJJF World Championships, starting May 29 in Long Beach, Calif. Osss!

Photo: Rafael Lovato Jr. (black gi) (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.