This past weekend, the last major Jiu-Jitsu championship before the Worlds in California took place down in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. The Brazilian Nationals provided a lot of excitement for the fans down south and gave us one last look at what we could possibly see this coming June in Long Beach.

As always, there were some favorites that held their ground and came away with gold, but there were also plenty of newcomers and unknowns that dethroned champions and helped build up their own reputation this past weekend.

Starting with the roosterweights, Felipe Costa was one veteran competitor that came in and looked to be the favorite to take the title (especially without Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra present). Costa looked to be on his way to a Brazilian National title as he made his way to the finale, but in the end he would be defeated by Check Mat’s Igor Rodrigues dos Santos, leaving the former World champion and Brasa leader with the silver medal.

Light-featherweight may have provided one of the biggest upsets of the weekend as the heavily favored Ary Farias would be unable to defend the title he won last year. Without some of the common names we are used to seeing challenge him, many assumed he would cruise to the title, but Cicero Costha’s black belt Jose Silva had plans of his own. Not only was the little-known Silva able to defeat the reigning champion, but he was able to finish the match with a choke, forcing Farias to tap. After this weekend, some may begin to question if there is something wrong with Farias, who has now lost twice at his weight class this year when before he had never lost at weight.

The featherweight category held numerous tough competitors including Isaque Paiva, David Lemes and Leonardo Saggioro, all vying for their first National title at the black belt category. When the dust settled though, it was Saggioro who would notch his first title at black belt by defeating both Paiva and Lemes in the semifinals and finals. A silver medalist at the 2011 event—losing to Bruno Frazzatto—Saggioro is now heading to Long Beach with plenty of confidence and full of belief that he can make a run for the World title in June.

At lightweight, the division as always was stacked with nothing but top-tier competitors, but in the end everyone knew it would come down to a rematch between Leandro “Lo” and Michael Langhi; and so it did. In their third meeting against one another, “Lo” come out the victor for the third time winning the match by one sweep and leaving Langhi on the second-place stand for the second year in a row.

Murilo Santana at one point was considered one of the best black belts in the World back in the mid-2000’s, as he was known for defeating a primed Andre Galvao on three separate occasions. Since then, Santana has seemingly slipped down the ranks a bit, but this past weekend he marked his return to the winner’s podium in the middleweight division. Previously tipped as favorites before the weekend, teammates Gustavo Campos and Davi Ramos of team Atos wouldn’t even reach the podium as Santana went on to seal the gold with a submission victory over Gabriel Rollo in the division’s decider.

The medium-heavyweight category held the intriguing possibility of a rematch of the 2010 Worlds final between Romulo Barral and Tarsis Humphreys—Humphreys injured Barral with a kneebar attack in that match. Unfortunately though, that fight would never transpire, and neither would even reach the final. The day and the category belonged to Nivaldo de Oliveira Lima, who defeated Barral in the semi’s and won the category with a kneebar submission over Gracie Barra’s William Martins in the finals.

Alexandre Ceconi is a hard-nosed competitor that always makes it super difficult for his opponents, yet he doesn’t always come out with the victory. For at least this weekend, Ceconi cannot be labeled as the “almost champion” anymore. Ceconi came out looking like a man on a mission as he made his way to the final. In the final, he defeated Paulo Tarcisio by two points, guaranteeing himself a spot on the top of the podium.

At super-heavyweight, it is becoming more of a common scene to see teammates Leonardo Nogueira and Bernardo Faria making it to the final with each other, and this time was no different. The two Alliance stars worked their way through their respective brackets to reach the finals with each other, and in a gentleman’s agreement, Nogueira would take the gold.

In the “big boys” category, Alexander Trans came out strong as he looked to rebound from his first loss in ages when he was defeated by Marcus “Buchecha” at the Pans. The Denmark native looked sharp out in Brazil as he made it through to the finals with ease, and there defeated Thiago Gaia in a rematch of the final of this year’s European Championship—a match that Trans won as well.

As the absolute belonged to team Check Mat at the Pans, the same can be said at the Brazilian Nationals, this time with Nivaldo Lima and Antonio Carlos de Barbosa reaching the finals together. The two had their work cut out for them, as Barbosa worked his way past Romulo Barral by a 4-2 score and Nivaldo won his semifinal bout against Murilo Santana by a judges’ decision after a 2-2 tie on the scorecards. When the two teammates made their decision on who would be crowned champion, it was Nivaldo making himself medium-heavy and absolute champion of the 2012 Brazilian Nationals.

With the Brazilian Nationals in the books, there is nothing left but the Worlds. Stayed tuned in the next few weeks as we get you ready for this year’s World Championship in Long Beach, Calif., set to start May 31. Osss!

Photo: Nivaldo de Oliveira Lima (Gracie Mag)

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.