Before we can even recover from last week’s ADCC championship, another major no-gi event is due to start this coming Saturday. This time, it’s the IBJJF’s seventh No-Gi World Championship.

This will be the fifth edition of the championship to be held at the Long Beach Pyramid in California. This year, just like every other year, each division brings super-tough talent to the big stage, though some have just competed at ADCC in Beijing the week prior. So, although there are a few big names that are absent from this year’s championship, there are still plenty of others that make this an intriguing event to watch.

Let’s take a quick look at who to look out for in each weight category.

At roosterweight, the clear favorite to take the title is the division’s reigning World champion, Caio Terra. Terra has won this tournament every year except for 2007, when he took silver against Gracie Barra’s Samuel Braga. In Terra’s way of claiming his sixth title stands Fabio Passos of Alliance, who, this year at the Pans, came closest to beating Terra before falling short by a judges’ decision.

At light-featherweight, the highly touted name is Laercio Fernandes, but the favorite has to be Henrique Rezende of Alliance in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rezende won this title last year by defeating Rafael Freitas in the division’s finale via advantage points. So, although Fernandes is the well-known competitor because of his gi accomplishments, Rezende, in the hunt for his second consecutive title, is the one to beat in this category.

The featherweight category will be without its three-time champion, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles, in the 2013 edition. The Alliance L.A. professor has just come off one of the biggest wins of his career at the ADCC event, where he claimed his first ADCC title, so we can all presume that he deserves some time to rest. There are, however, still plenty of others to make this one of the more intriguing categories. Along with 2010’s champion, Justin Rader, the category also includes Samir Chantre, Osvaldo Augusto, Carlos Vieira and Baret Yoshida. Without Cobrinha in the mix, the division appears to be wide open with Rader having the slight edge as favorite, due in large part to his status as a three-time finalist in this event.

At lightweight, the 2013 category is getting a big makeover. Jonathan “JT” Torres is the only returning medalist from last year’s installment. He is the clear favorite, with new black belt AJ Agazarm looking to be a close second. Anything can happen in this division, especially if the unknown names come out and surprise everyone, but expect a final between Torres and Agazarm. It should provide some fireworks!

The middleweight category is by far the toughest category of all the black belt divisions. With Clark Gracie, Vitor Oliveira, Gilbert Burns, Leandro “Lo” Nascimento and DJ Jackson all in the mix, it’s anything but easy. It is hard to find a favorite in this one, but since Jackson was last year’s champion, we’ll give him the nod. Like lightweight, anything can happen in this division and there can be numerous different finals scenarios that play out by the end of the day. Who do you think the two middleweight finalists will be? Make sure to comment below on this one!

Just behind middleweight for being the most stacked of the entire championship is the medium-heavyweight category. Although Pablo Popovitch is the favorite, guys like Murilo Santana, Felipe Pena, Kit Dale and Eduardo Telles cannot be overlooked. In the end, I believe we will see no-gi specialist Popovitch in the final against Santana in one of the biggest championship pairings of the entire tournament.

Heavyweight gives the audience a look at Jackson Sousa’s black belt debut out in California. The brown belt heavyweight World champion has picked a tough first test at his new belt rank, but he should be ready for all comers. Although Sousa isn’t as well-known in the gi, he has won double gold at the No-Gi Brazilian Nationals before, having defeated Paulo Miyao in the process. In the upcoming championship, guys like Rafael Lovato Jr., David Avellan and Roberto “Tussa” Alencar look to be the potential favorites, but don’t count out the newcomer, Sousa.

Superheavweight has left everyone scratching their heads as they see a natural medium-heavyweight, Romulo Barral, signed up for the category. Regardless of his size, Barral looks to be the favorite in this category, without any other big names signed up to compete. But don’t let that fact fool you, as we’ve seen plenty of surprises before and it can always happen again.

Last, at ultraheavyweight, we have a group of relative unknowns looking for their first major title in the black belt category. Ricardo Rezende, a student under last week’s ADCC absolute champion Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, looks to be the favorite. He is a multiple-time No-Gi World champion. There is also Gabriel Lyrio, who is this year’s superheavyweight brown belt World champion in the gi. Who do you think will get their first black belt world title?

So, there you have your Worlds No-Gi preview! What division excites you most, and what category are you looking forward to watching most? Comment below! Osss!

Photo: Justin Rader (John Lamonica/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.