In a weekend filled with competitions going on around the country, the biggest went down in Las Vegas for the IBJJF’s annual Las Vegas Open Championship. There, the crowd was witness to plenty of surprises and also a few names making a return to the competition scene. Not only did this championship help top names rack up a few more wins and medals for their collection, but also put them on watch for the rest of this year and going into the 2013 competition season.

The black belt who ended up being the top dog in the entire championship was Gracie Fighter Samir Chantre. Chantre, a former Worlds medalist, had probably one of his best results to date as he closed out the featherweight category with his World champion teammate Caio Terra, each beating their lone opponent. Then to make the day even better, Chantre took the absolute category, defeating a number of larger opponents along the way and beating American standout Zak Maxwell in the finale.

The victory for Chantre was huge as he was looking to rebound from his disappointing Worlds performance where he was unable to even reach the quarterfinal round.

From here, Chantre is schedule to compete in other IBJJF championships this year, including the No-Gi Worlds, where he won his lone World title back in 2010. So keep an eye on the Gracie Fighter competitor; with this boost of confidence, he may end up being a big threat for a major title at next year’s championships.

Another standout in the tournament was, in fact, the runner-up to Chantre in the absolute—Zak Maxwell. Although Maxwell fell short in the final, every fight he had until that point was very impressive. Along with the middleweight gold he took that day, Maxwell was also able to defeat numerous larger competitors in the absolute on his way to the final. Maxwell is only in his second year at black belt and he has already given the top names in the World all they could handle, so the sky’s the limit for this Philadephia-born athlete.

The one competitor who drew the most attention this weekend was none other than 2011 featherweight Worlds runner-up Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes. Coming off a very serious surgery in the cervical spine, “Tanquinho” competed in his first championship since he competed at the Worlds last year.

Although the top-ten pound-for-pound competitor didn’t look to be in tip-top form, his performance was enough to get the job done as he defeated Gracie Barra’s Philipe Della Monica in the lightweight final by three advantage points.

Can we expect to see the same “Tanquinho” that defeated Rafael Mendes in 2011 come back in 2013? The answer is still unclear, but you can be sure that you will see him compete at all of the championships and give anyone a run for their money.

So now that Vegas is in the rearview mirror, what’s next?

The IBJJF will now be heading up to Chicago for their Summer Open Championship, and you can surely expect there will be some good names there. Then, the IBJJF will hit Boston, where there are already athletes such as Renan Borges, Vinicius Marinho and Jonathan “JT” Torres already in the mix looking for gold.

What tournament and which competitor are you looking forward to seeing most this summer? Comment below and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Photo: Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (top) (IBJJF)

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.