In what is the first of many IBJJF Open events in the coming weeks, the crowd who witnessed the 2013 Houston Open were not disappointed. On both Saturday and Sunday, the Jerabeck Activity and Athletic Center was packed with fans and competitors alike looking to either collect some hardware or gain some knowledge from watching the top athletes in action on the mats.

The first day brought out the white and blue belts, who, although less experienced than the veterans coming in day two, did not show any lack of heart or skill. Many up-and-coming names such as Jeffrey Bunting (Atos), Mason Monsevais (Atos), and Daryl Abshire (BJJ Revolution) showed that they have what it takes to become contenders in the major championships. Bunting and Monsevais closed out their light-featherweight category, while Abshire took the absolute category. Although they are only blue belts, they should not be overlooked in the coming years.

Day two brought out the big boys, as, after the purple and browns had their fun on the mats, the black belts finally stepped onto the mats. Although there weren’t any big black belt categories, that didn’t mean there weren’t people to watch out for.

At featherweight, last-minute sign-ups Guilherme and Rafael Mendes of Atos closed out their category for the second straight year in Houston. Just like in 2012, the brothers had one match a piece and dominated in typical Mendes fashion. Both pulled guard and went for their infamous berimbolo technique. Against Gustavo Carpio, Rafael landed on the back, while Guilherme (versus Gabriel Martins) came on top, ended up in a leg drag and continually put pressure for the guard pass. In the end, both competitors got the finish (Rafael’s coming in two minutes, Guilherme’s in nine). This year, the brothers will be looking for their fourth World title at black belt, and from the looks of it, they will be as sharp as ever to make another run come Worlds time.

Another division that provided a lot of fireworks was the ultra-heavyweight category that featured another pair of brothers (Ricardo and Bruno Bastos) along with World champion Rafael Lovato Jr. Lovato would end up having to go head-to-head with both brothers. In the end, he would come out victorious each time by points. In the final, he defeated Bruno by a 17-0 score.

Lovato is always a standout competitor to watch for and someone who is always in the World title picture; 2013 doesn’t look to be any different. Expect Lovato to be right in the middle of the action contending for his second black belt World title.

Lastly, in the black belt absolute, Ricardo Bastos was able to redeem himself after his loss in his weight category to Lovato by winning all of his matches to become black belt absolute champion of the event. In the final, Bastos got by first-year black belt and fellow ultra-heavyweight competitor Luis Rubalcava of Team Alliance.

In the team competition, with a wave of competitors coming in and collecting medals at all belts, Gracie Barra took the team title with 232 points, while BJJ Revolution finished in second with 190 points and Nova União took third with 170 points.

Now, with the visit to Houston complete, the next stop for the IBJJF is San Francisco for its second annual event. So far, the divisions are filling up, so there is bound to be some interesting match-ups going down! We’ll be back next week to continue more coverage, so stay tuned. Osss!

Photo: Rafael Lovato Jr. (black gi) (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.