This past weekend, the IBJJF held its last International Open before the Pans, as it headed to Chicago for its second annual Chicago Winter Open. In the two-day event, athletes were able to compete in both gi and no-gi, giving themselves the opportunity to gain more experience with the possibility of having more matches. Also, the tournament allowed the kids to showcase what the future may look like as the yellow, orange and green belt juveniles hit the mat on early Sunday morning.

The bulk of the action took place shortly after noon time in Chi-Town on Saturday when the black belts hit the mats donning their gi’s.

In the lightweight category, Gracie Barra teammates Philipe Della Monica and Rodrigo Freitas each had one match, and both won their bouts in convincing fashion. The two competitors looked sharp and ready for the Pans, as they were able to close out their division together with Freitas taking the gold by a gentleman’s agreement.

Gregor Gracie would be the big name to win the medium-heavyweight category. He cruised through his division to gain his first gold in jiu-jitsu competition since 2009. But winning his weight was not enough, so Gracie threw himself into the mix in the absolute category. There, Gracie had three matches. In his first two matches, he took wins by submission via leg lock, first, against middleweight champion Jacob Mackenzie and, second, against the aforementioned lightweight champion, Freitas.

In the absolute finale, Gracie was matched up against newly promoted black belt Orlando Sanchez of Gracie Barra. Although it was Sanchez’s first championship in the black belt category, he did not let a lack of experience affect him in his first two bouts as, like Gracie, he cruised to the final, winning both by points.

When the final between the ultra-heavyweight Sanchez and the medium-heavyweight Gracie started, the crowd’s attention was solely focused on that bout. Both played a stand-up game for a while, until Sanchez pulled to half guard. Seeing an opportunity for the finish, Gracie went after the kimura lock, but ended up giving up the sweep. Up by two points, Sanchez didn’t give Gracie any room to move and finished the fight on top to win by the same 2-0 score. Although Gracie argued that Sanchez should have been penalized for stalling, the result stood and Sanchez was crowned absolute champ of the Chicago Winter Open.

The next day, this time in no-gi, Sanchez took yet another absolute gold, as he won all of his matches leading up to the final and closed out the absolute with his teammate Philipe Della Monica, who also had a near-perfect weekend.

In the brown belt category, the absolute winner in the gi was James Strater-Smith of Easton BJJ, and the no-gi absolute champion was Bruce Hoyer of Team Brasa.

So now, starting next week, we get into the fun stuff. Stay tuned for a division-by-division preview of the 2013 Pan Championships, set to take place in Irvine, Calif., from March 20-24. Osss!

Photo: The Chicago Skyline (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

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.