This past weekend the jiu-jitsu community was given another great event to take in as the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo, organized by Renzo Gracie, took place at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. The Expo had everything to it: seminars taught by many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu greats including Ricardo Almeida and his brother Flavio; an IBJJF-run tournament with top names such as Samir Chantre, Romulo Barral and Otavio Sousa competing; and in the end, six “superfight” matches to conclude the event.

Earlier in the day of festivities, the IBJJF’s first Long Beach Spring Open championship was a great success as many competitors from all ranks came out to play, and some of the best once again proved why they are the best. The two stars of the day were Romulo Barral and Otavio Sousa, both from Gracie Barra, who would end up closing out the absolute category. Both competitors also took home gold in their respective weight categories (Sousa won middleweight and Barral won medium-heavy).

Besides Barral and Sousa, other big stars that took home gold were Milton Bastos, Samir Chantre, Zak Maxwell and Gustavo Pires, all of whom won in their respective weight categories and finished their final tune-up for the World Championships strong.

Once the IBJJF had finished their job running another strong and steady Open championship, Renzo and his staff began setting the stage for the evening’s main event.

In the first superfight match-up that night, we were given a women’s no-gi match-up between MMA’s Alexis Davis and multiple-time World champion Kyra Gracie. Coached by her uncle Renzo throughout the bout, Kyra had complete control throughout the ten minutes, scoring two points for a sweep and then another three for a guard pass that she obtained towards the end of the match. In the end, Kyra would take the first match by a score of 5-0.

Next, we had the return of a past legend that was looking to start back on the comeback trail. Nino Schembri was looking to start that run against one of today’s biggest and most popular stars, Bill “The Grill” Cooper. In a surprisingly close contest, where the two competitors would exchange a pair of sweeps, it would be Cooper who would take the win by a judges’ decision after ending in a tied score of 2-2.

The third bout of the evening was a rubber match between Kron Gracie and Victor Estima. At the Pan’s, the two black belts split their two bouts against each other, Kron winning the absolute battle and Estima coming back with the win at their weight category. In their third match, they looked to settle the score and Kron would end up on top, winning the match by one advantage point. Throughout, there were exchanges of sweeps left and right, but one extra submission attempt brought on by the Gracie yielded him the win. At the end of the bout, Kron did a taunt that Estima did not appreciate and things became a little heated afterwards. It should be interesting to see down the road how this new rivalry evolves, say they should meet again.

In what may have been the most anticipated match of the evening, Jeff Glover and Caio Terra finally settled their war of words in a gi match on the mats in what would be probably the most exciting match of the entire event. Not known for being a gi competitor, Glover brought it to a surprised Terra, and after eight minutes, the bout was tied at 6-6. Seeing the opportunity for a big upset win, Glover took his opportunity and pounced on the former World champion’s back and scored four points for back mount with only 20 seconds remaining. When time ran out, Glover and Bill Cooper would embrace as they both came out with victories for their team, Paragon.

In the co-main event of the evening, Rafael Lovato Jr. and Lucas Leite went head-to-head in a match-up of former World champions. Lovato, considered by many to be the most decorated American black belt, added another victory to his resume as he defeated the 2012 Pan champion, Leite, by a 2-0 score, giving himself a new sense of confidence going into the Worlds, where he could possibly run into Leite again.

Finally, the stage was set, all the other matches had gone down smoothly and without a lack of excitement. It was going to be Braulio Estima versus Nick Diaz until…Diaz was a no-show. A sudden last-minute drop-out, Diaz’s disappearance only became known to Estima when he was already on the mats ready to go. In fact, Diaz never even showed up to the arena, leaving organizer Renzo Gracie, as well as Estima and the fans in attendance fuming.

Although the main event turned out as a disaster, the overall event was considered a great success, and you may see Renzo and his crew put on another one of these shows sometime soon. But you can count on it that Nick Diaz won’t be invited next time around.

Now with only less than three weeks till the Worlds, we will be giving you a look back on World championships past and what you can expect to see in the coming weeks for the 2012 Worlds in Long Beach, Calif. Osss!

Photo: Braulio Estima awaits Nick Diaz’s arrival (MMA Fighting)

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.