Flavio Almeida, the head Gracie Barra Dana Point professor and brother to former UFC and Pride fighter Ricardo Almeida, was the big name at the Chicago Open this past weekend. Entering only his second competition of the year, the decorated black belt proved that he still has plenty in the tank despite not being the full-time competitor he once was.

In the absolute, Almeida went through all of his opponents, including Leonardo Iturralde, in the lead-up to his absolute final clash with GF Team’s standout Vitor Oliveira. In the final, the two competitors put on the best match of the event as they traded positions for submission attempts back-and-forth for the entire 10 minutes. In the end, Almeida ended up with one more sweep over his opponent and claimed an unlikely absolute gold against the highly talented Oliveira, who is coming off a win against lightweight World champion Leandro “Lo” Nascimento at this year’s Pans in March.

Although Almeida took home the biggest gold, there were still plenty of other great competitors who had their own share of success in this championship.

At brown belt, the absolute winner was Javier Valenciano from the Renzo Gracie Academy in Costa Rica. “Javy” also took home the middleweight gold, making him the brown belt double-gold champion of the day. The victories put him on the map as someone to keep an eye on in the upcoming championships.

Also of note was absolute runner-up Jeffrey Cummings of Alliance Atlanta, who had a great showing as he dominated his lightweight category and won his final match by a 37 to 0 score.

Francisco Iturralde was amongst the black belts who stood out in their weight divisions. In his first IBJJF championship at black belt, the youngest of the Iturralde brothers conquered the lightweight category, defeating Bricklin Welch in the semifinals and the always tough Philipe Della Monica in the final. In the final with the former Worlds medalist, Iturralde was able to squeak by with one advantage more than his Gracie Barra opponent.

Another standout in the weight divisions was Vitor Oliveira, who took home the middleweight crown. Although the GF Team representative was disappointed with his loss in the absolute final, he should not be disappointed with his overall performance for the day. He cruised through his weight class and the absolute, until he ultimately met up with Almeida in the absolute final.

From Chicago, the IBJJF staff heads straight to Boston, where they will prepare to host their third annual Boston Summer Open event and their second overall event in Boston on the 2013 calendar.

There you will see some of the same faces from this week as Oliveira, Iturralde and Valenciano will be making the trip in an effort to add to their medal collection. They’ll be joined by more familiar faces, with Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa, Renan Borges and Daniel Beleza having also confirmed their appearance at the championship. So, stay tuned for more coverage next week. Osss!

Photo: Flavio Almeida (Gracie Barra)

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.