The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fan base has a lot to be excited about right now, especially after seeing what went down at the 2014 Europeans in Lisbon, Portugal.

Everyone likes to see the new faces make a big splash once they get to the black belt scene, and this past weekend there were plenty of new faces that turned heads of both the crowd and their opponents. The rookie black belts now have to be viewed as a threat.

So, let’s take a look at the winners in each category and see which new sensations really stood out this weekend.

At roosterweight, the theme of this article does not apply. There, it was veteran black belt Caio Terra who showed why he is the current roosterweight champion of the world. The Brasa star had an easy run to the final, where he squared off with a common foe in Koji Shibamoto. Terra was given a run for his money by Shibamoto. Terra fell behind early because of a takedown, but would ultimately end up taking the win and the gold by three advantage points after a tie in points at 2-2.

The light-feather, feather and lightweight categories all had new black belts that put themselves on the map by putting up great efforts in their first major gi tournaments at the highest rank.

At light-featherweight, it was Joao Miyao who stood out with two impressive wins, where he actually came on top and passed the guard splendidly. Then, in the final, Miyao closed out with his Cicero Costha teammate, Jose Tiago Barros. Barros may not be a new black belt, but he is a steadily growing name on the international scene.

The featherweight category saw Rafael Mendes keep his place at the top of the podium, but not before being challenged by a pair of rookie black belts, including Joao’s twin brother, Paulo. In a highly anticipated final, Mendes held off the aggressive Miyao, continually stopping Paulo from playing his De La Riva and famous berimbolo game. Then, when the opportunity was right, Mendes secured a guard pass by locking an inverted triangle-like submission attempt which secured a 3-0 finals win for the three-time black belt World champion.

Lightweight saw Francisco “Sinistro” Iturralde make it to the final of his first major gi championship at black belt along with his teammate, Michael Langhi. To get there, Sinistro had to get by another rookie phenom, AJ Agazarm, in the semifinals. He did so in impressive fashion. After 10 minutes, the score read 10-2 in Iturralde’s favor, making the score in their rivalry five wins to one in favor of Sinistro.

At middleweight, we were given a treat, as two teammates decided to go ahead and fight in the final. Jonathan “JT” Torres and Claudio Calasans of Team Atos made it through their respective brackets and then squared off in what was an even bout that went to the judges. After a 2-2 tie, the refs unanimously gave it to Calasans, who controlled a good portion of the fight with an omoplata locked well in place. For Calasans, this is his third European title in four years (he also won in 2011, 2013 and 2014).

The medium-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions take us back to the theme of new black belts making things happen.

At medium-heavyweight, first-year black belt Thiago Sa and second-year black belt Renato Cardoso closed their category together.

Then, at heavyweight, Jackson Sousa stole the show over his former teammate, Yuri Simoes. Simoes, the winner of their absolute match-up the day before, looked to be in control and with a lead with 30 seconds to go, but Sousa wasn’t done. With one takedown, Sousa took the lead, the win and his first major gi title as a black belt.

At superheavy, the crowd was pumped when fan-favorite and local Gracie Barra instructor Lucio “Lagarto” Rodrigues took it to the big boys. Known as one of the humblest in the game, Lagarto looked sharp on Sunday in his weight class, especially after a great 2-0 win over the extremely consistent Rafael Lovato Jr. Hopefully things finally work out for Lagarto when it comes to his visa issues so that the fans in the United States can finally see him compete at this year’s Worlds in California.

Ultra-heavyweight showed possibly the longest-running high-level black belt show that he still has what it takes to make it to the top of the podium. Rodrigo Cavaca of Zenith Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu took the heaviest weight category by defeating Ricardo Evangelista of GFTeam by scoring one more sweep in a 6-4 match.

Not only did Cavaca represent well on the mat himself, but his team was surely noticed at the championship. Although they didn’t have many members compete for a team title, they did show that with time and organization they could be a team to be reckoned with in the coming years.

Finally, in the absolute, Simoes, a fairly new black belt, was having a great run until he slammed into a European brick wall named Alexander Trans. Trans is becoming a bigger force every year, and he showed it yesterday in the final when he dominated the streaking Simoes by passing, mounting and finishing with a straight arm lock. With the win, Trans became the first-ever European-born black belt to win the black belt absolute title at the Europeans and at any major gi IBJJF championship.

Who impressed you most at this year’s Europeans? Also, what match-ups did you like, and which ones would you like to see again later in the competition year? Comment below! Osss!

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.