In sport jiu-jitsu today, there are so many amazingly talented jiu-jitsu players that tend to go unnoticed despite competing in the main competitions around the country and around the world. Even while sporting great technique and great results, some competitors never see their popularity rise too high.

However, whether they like it or not, these five competitors must not go unnoticed. They are bound for big things in the sport, not only at the belt they are at now but in the future once they reach the black belt ranks.

1. Mansher Khera (Alliance/Marcelo Garcia)

Mansher Khera is a purple belt under Marcelo Garcia at Marcelo’s main academy in New York City on West 26th Street and basically started his training directly under Garcia and became one of the main competitors of the academy. In 2013, Khera has had a breakout run, qualifying for the Abu Dhabi World Pro at the Montreal Trials and winning both the Spring and Summer New York Open in the lightweight category. However, his best showing came at this past World Championship, where he took silver after seven hard fights against former Worlds medalists and World champions. Although he fell just short of obtaining his first World title, the 21-year-old has shown a lot of promise and continues to improve with each tournament.

Here is Khera in his semifinal match at the Worlds against another young promising prospect in Canada’s Josh Presley:

2. Victor Genovesi (Alliance)

Victor Genovesi is a brown belt World champion and yet hasn’t built up the reputation that he deserves. The son of Alexandre “Gigi” Paiva, one of the Alliance founders, has been training since he was a toddler and has grown up to be a force in the featherweight and lightweight categories. Genovesi had a stellar year in 2012 as he dropped down from his usual lightweight division (167.5 pounds) to compete with the featherweights (154 pounds). The weight cut paid off. Genovesi won both the Brazilian Nationals and the Worlds while displaying a great guard passing game, unseen amongst many of the lighter-weight competitors. In 2013, Genovesi tried for his second consecutive title, but ultimately lost in his second match to the eventual champion, Rafael Henrique. Genovesi intends to make a move back down to featherweight starting in 2014. We look forward to seeing this young man compete in the future, as he is sure to always be a threat no matter the weight division or belt rank at which he competes.

Here is Genovesi back in 2011 when he was a purple belt at the European Championships, where he first put himself on the map:

3. Kit Dale (CheckMat)

A newly promoted black belt, Kit Dale is one of the biggest jiu-jitsu competitors to come out of Australia, but I still do cross paths with those that have yet to recognize his name. The strong medium-heavyweight has been racking up solid results since he was a purple belt, the rank at which he won the Abu Dhabi World Pro and the Brazilian Nationals in 2011. Since then, Dale has had good results, medaling at nearly every championship he’s competed in. At this year’s World championship, he had the toughest draw of any competitor when he faced World champion Keenan Cornelius in his first bout. The match ended up being very close—it was decided by advantage points—but unfortunately for Dale, he was on the wrong side of the score and was eliminated. Nonetheless, Dale will have his chance at payback this coming September at the next Copa Podio competition, where Cornelius is also expected to compete.

Here is Dale winning the Brazilian Nationals as a purple belt in 2011, a rare and amazing feat for a non-Brazilian:

4. Rafael Henrique Pereira (Gordo Jiu-Jitsu)

An all-around solid competitor, Rafael Henrique Pereira has been on the scene for a long time, medaling at all the championships but never quite winning them all. Many times he would come in second or third and fall just short, but 2013 was a breakout year for Pereira. After a disappointing loss to Victor Genovesi at the Europeans, Pereira did not lose for the rest of the year. He claimed wins at the Pans, Brazilian Nationals and then eventually, the Worlds. It was a dream year for Pereira, who also displayed an old-school style of fighting not seen too often nowadays with techniques such as the berimbolo and 50/50 gaining such popularity.

Here is Pereira, in his first match at the Worlds, demonstrating his popular “loop” choke that catches many of his opponents by surprise, including Victor Genovesi, his opponent following this match:

5. Hiago Gama (Alliance)

A brand new purple belt, Hiago Gama had the best year out of any blue belt in the world in 2013. The young competitor from the Alliance academy in Rio de Janeiro won every major tournament he entered—Europeans, Pans, Brazilian Nationals and Worlds—to complete the Grand Slam. The fearless light-featherweight never gave his opponents an inch as he claimed his first IBJJF World title this past June in Long Beach, Calif., and was promoted to purple belt while still on the podium with the gold medal hanging from his neck. Expect to see a lot of this growing talent in the future.

Here is one of Gama’s matches from the Europeans, where he tests his skills in the absolute division despite being a mere 141 pounds:

So, what do you think of our guys to watch out for? Who do you believe should be on this list of up-and-comers? Comment below! Osss!

Photo: Kit Dale (center) (Kit-Dale.com)

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.

  • Stine

    Sebastian Brosche !

  • pm

    Michael Liera Jr. – new brown belt under Andre Galvao?

  • PeaceOut

    Where is Zata Toscano?!

  • terri winsome

    Tanner Rice black belt under cobrinha, defeated taquino, and gustavo dias this year. several championships. his brother sam rice purple belt under cobrinha, 16 years old has won several championships in the adult division