This weekend, the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship finally went down in Long Beach, Calif. Let’s just say that it could have arguably been the greatest Worlds in its 18-year history. There was no shortage of excitement with plenty of surprises, amazing match-ups and spectacular finishes.

We saw a light-featherweight in Paulo Miyao finally conquer the absolute division, defeating his rival Keenan Cornelius in the brown belt absolute final. We saw multiple-time World champions get left off the podium, forced to watch from the stands. Also, we were able to witness the passion that the teams in the stands had for their brothers fighting on the mat as the raucous teams would cheer hard and loud in support, trying to will them to victory. It was truly an unforgettable end to an incredible competition season.

So now, let’s recap what took place in each black belt category, and take a look at who stood out most in the biggest Worlds of all time.

Roosterweight

When Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra both registered for the roosterweight category, almost everyone felt it was safe to bet on another final between the two heated rivals. In the end, those bets paid off. Terra and Malfacine faced off for the fifth consecutive year in the division’s finale. But unlike the first four years, where Malfacine took the match, this time it was Terra’s day.

Although he was down on advantages for the majority of the bout, Terra never seemed to panic. In the final seconds, he was able to secure a title-clinching sweep to make the score 4-2, and it stayed that way. Terra was finally released from his Worlds finals curse with Malfacine and is now a two-time World champion.

Light-Featherweight

Going into this tournament, most were looking at another potential final between three-time champion Guilherme Mendes and last year’s runner-up, Laercio Fernandes. However, those early predictions were quickly thrown out the window. In the quarterfinal round, Mendes lost to Daniel Beleza and Fernandes fell to Ary Farias. Neither would be reaching the podium in 2013 after all.

The final came down to “new school versus old school” as third-year black belt Farias took on 2004 World champion Gabriel Moraes in what would be one of the most talked about endings of the year. In a back-and-forth affair where there were numerous acrobatic acts by both competitors, the 10 minutes expired with Farias up by one advantage point, 3-2. But afterward, before having his arm raised, Farias, in his celebration, walked outside the fighting area, which warrants a penalty under IBJJF rules of conduct. Farias was penalized and Moraes was then given an advantage, which gave Moraes his second black belt World title.

Featherweight

As if there weren’t already enough upsets over the first three days of the event, the featherweight category may have provided the biggest one yet. Since 2006, the division has been owned by only two names: Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles, who had won from 2006 until 2009, and Rafael Mendes, who is the reigning three-time champion. In 2013, it was expected to come down to those two once again. But Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, often considered the third wheel of the category, had other plans in mind.

Tanquinho’s first upset of the day came when he defeated IBJJF Hall of Famer Cobrinha by a 2-0 score with one sweep. But that wasn’t nearly as surprising as what would occur in the final.

In the final, Tanquinho started things off with a takedown against Rafael Mendes and held onto the momentum. But Mendes fought back with a sweep. With half a minute to go, Mendes found himself up by an advantage. But no one could deny Tanquinho. Right at the very end, he secured a sweep to take away Mendes’ featherweight crown.

The victory also ended an impressive streak, as this is the first time since 2004 that neither Guilherme nor Rafael Mendes reached the top of the podium in their division. Also, this is only the second time Rafael has ever lost in a World championship match.

Lightweight

In one of the more unpredictable categories, we were finally given a final that most expected—and wanted—to see. Leandro “Lo” Nascimento fought in the final for the second consecutive year against a familiar foe: two-time World champion Michael Langhi, who made his first finals appearance since 2010. In this match, the crowd was witness to just Lo’s amazing skills. Against Langhi’s once-considered “unpassable” guard, Lo made it look effortless, nearly taking Langhi’s back on three occasions.

Langhi fought hard, but had nothing that could phase the defending champion. The score ended up 2-0 in favor of the now two-time World champion, Lo.

Middleweight

In another unpredictable category, we saw some surprising upsets along the way. But in the end, we were given a rematch of last year’s final between Claudio Calasans and Otavio Sousa. And once again, we were given the same result. Another year gone by and another chance lost for Calasans to gain his first World title. Sousa was even more dominant this time than he was last year. Sousa scored numerous advantage points against the Atos black belt, securing his second consecutive black belt World title.

Medium-Heavyweight

There were numerous intriguing storylines going into this category, the most significant being the return of three-time champion Braulio Estima.

After his disappointing loss to Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro at the Copa Podio, many were quick to write Estima off. They believed he was still rusty and wasn’t as sharp in the gi as he used to be. But in the end, Estima proved everyone wrong. The older of the Estima brothers, Braulio fought a nearly perfect tournament, finishing it off with a dominant and thrilling win over the favored Andre Galvao by a 6-2 score in the semifinals.

The other intriguing story was the rise of Romulo Barral. The defending champion was coming off a rough stretch where he was trounced by Guto Campos at the Pan and was hurt in his final match with Galvao in Abu Dhabi. However, Barral redeemed himself by having an amazing run that he finished off by getting payback on Campos, defeating him 6-0 in the semifinals.

That left the two Gracie Barra teammates to close out the category together and left the two Atos athletes (Galvao and Campos) sitting in third, ending a frustrating day for the Atos team, which at one point had aspirations to win their first World team title.

Heavyweight

On one side of the bracket, it was easy to pick the finalist: Rodolfo Vieira. The reigning two-time champion dominated his side of the bracket, as usual, and reached the final with ease.

But the other side of the bracket held a surprise. Lucas Leite, a natural middleweight, decided to fight up and had one of the most unexpected runs of the entire championship. First, he dominated Roberto Tussa by a 16-0 score. Then he eliminated two-time absolute World champion “Xande” Ribeiro in the semifinal, setting up an unlikely and intriguing match-up with Vieira.

In the final, Leite’s half guard was no match for Vieira’s pressure passing game. Vieira passed the 2007 middleweight champion’s guard with ease in nearly one minute. From there, Vieira never let up and wouldn’t give Leite an inch. After a few minutes of working towards the mount, Vieira squeezed on a choke from the mounted position that forced Leite to tap, giving Vieira his third consecutive black belt World title.

Super Heavyweight

Going into the weekend, the most feared man in the category looked to be newly promoted black belt Joao Gabriel Rocha, who was coming off some impressive performances in previous tournaments. But the day belonged instead to the consistent Bernardo Faria. A professor at Marcelo Garcia’s academy in New York City, Faria looked sharp all weekend. He finished all of his matches leading up to the final, and then, in the final, defeated Rocha by an impressive 8-2 score. With the win, Faria secured his third black belt World title in only four years.

Ultraheavyweight

The ultraheavyweight division always provides plenty of spectacles between new and old generations, and this year was no different. In the final, it was down to two CheckMat athletes—professor and student—Rodrigo Cavaca and Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida. Both reached the end of their respective brackets and closed out the category together, something that Buchecha called “a dream come true.”

In a gentleman’s agreement, the professor gave the student the world title, Buchecha’s second at ultraheavyweight in two years.

Absolute

To close out the competition and the year, it just had to come down to Buchecha and Vieira. There was just no other way it could be. Faria came close to breaking up the dream final by fighting Almeida to the last second and nearly pulling off the win in the semifinal, but it wasn’t meant to be and the two rivals were set to square off.

On that late Sunday evening, the building rocked in anticipation for the final. Vieira’s GF Team and Almeida’s CheckMat squad battled with back-and-forth chants well before and during the final. But in the final, it was all “forth” for the defending champion, Almeida. He quickly scored a sweep and a back take of the 2011 double-gold champion to go up 6-0. Vieira was able to escape, but was never able to score anything to level the score. Almeida scored two more points for good measure and finished the match by nearly securing an armlock. However, he couldn’t finish it and instead settled for a win by an 8-0 score.

After having his hand raised, Buchecha ran towards his hysterical and wild cheering section and dove into the crowd, hollering chants with them in celebration of his second absolute World title.

So, there you have it, the 2013 black belt World champions! Who stood out most to you this year? What was your favorite match of the championship? Comment below and let yourself be heard! Osss!

Photo: Buchecha (Tatame)

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.