At Renzo Gracie’s second annual World Jiu-Jitsu Expo, the fans were treated to an all-out weekend of jiu-jitsu festivities. There were free seminars hosted by the Mendes Brothers, Roger Gracie, Braulio Estima, Romulo Barral, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes and many more. There were many booths with great jiu-jitsu practitioners taking pictures and signing autographs for fans who attended the event. There was a tournament held for the kids, teens and white, blue and purple belt adults, giving the lower ranks a chance to compete and take home some hardware. Then, finally, there was the big attraction: the superfights and brown and black belt grand prix events.

On day one, the brown belts stole the show, as 16 brown belts battled it out for what felt like an all-day event. Much like in the Copa Podio setup, the 16 participants were divided up into two groups, and within each group the competitors would fight everyone once. That meant each athlete would have at least seven matches, not including the semifinals or finals.

Throughout the event, trying to predict a winner would have been nearly impossible. One fighter would look very impressive in one round, but then suddenly lose in the next round. It was a roller-coaster ride, to say the least. But, at the end of the event, Team Lloyd Irvin’s Timothy Spriggs had the most impressive day out of all the competitors. In his group, Spriggs basically dominated throughout, only having one tough fight against Copa Podio veteran Travis Stevens, where Spriggs slipped by on a single advantage.

In the finals, Spriggs completed an undefeated day by beating surprise unknown Thiago Sa by a 5-1 score in advantage points. With the win, Spriggs was crowned as the event’s first-ever brown belt grand prix champion.

Once the grand prix reached its conclusion, the event had its first five superfights of the two-day weekend. Here is a quick recap of the results:

Phillipe Nover vs. Efrain Escudero ended in a draw after their 10-minute submission-only match concluded without a submission.

Keenan Cornelius defeated Lucas Leite by armbar submission after eight minutes of action.

Joao Miyao topped Eduardo Telles by two advantage points for attempting to sweep and take the back.

Rafael Lovato Jr. vs. Murilo Santana ended in a draw after their 20-minute submission-only match concluded without a submission.

Caio Terra defeated Nam Phan by submission with a shoulder lock early into their match.

On day two, the event was much the same, starting with the grand prix, except this time it was the black belts taking the stage. Although it was called a black belt GP, two brown belts, Shiloh Roberts and Travis Stevens, volunteered to jump in after two of the black belts were forced to resign from the event at the last moment, but nonetheless, the show went on smoothly.

With 10 competitors, the field was divided into two groups and each competitor took part in four matches in group play. The standouts were Jackson Sousa, who was carrying a lot of hype going in, and James Puopolo, who was on a submission tear on Sunday but ultimately both would lose to the eventual champion.

In the semifinals, Sousa fell to Cyborg black belt Ricardo Rezende by a single advantage point. Then, in the finals, Puopolo fell via a leg lock submission, something he caught Rezende in earlier in the day during group play. Unfortunately for the Lovato black belt, he fell victim to his own deadly weapon. In the end, the up-and-coming Rezende stole the show and took home the gold trophy for his first big win as a black belt in only his second year at the highest rank.

Afterwards, the second night of superfights began. Here are the quick results of what went down:

Bruno Malfacine topped Jeff Glover by a 5-2 score after passing Glover’s guard in their IBJJF-rules no-gi match.

Dean Lister defeated Tarsis Humphreys by heel hook submission in their ADCC-rules match.

Paulo Miyao vs. Jon Fitch ended in a draw after their 20-minute submission-only match concluded without a submission.

Leandro “Lo” Nascimento vs. Jake Shields also resulted in a draw after their 20-minute submission-only match ended without a submission.

So, for those of you who were in attendance or watched the live stream of the event, what did you think? Who stood out most to you in the superfights, and what match-up would you like to see in this event’s future? Comment below. Osss!

Photo: Dean Lister (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.