Lost in the excitement of the upcoming World Championships and recent IBJJF events was the Copa Podio Grand Prix event, which took place this past Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fourth installment of this ever-growing event featured a lightweight Grand Prix and numerous exciting superfight match-ups, leaving the audience with plenty to look forward to.

Before the Grand Prix event, the crowd was given the highly anticipated superfight bout between Xande Ribeiro and Braulio Estima. The two squared off for the first time since their ADCC absolute final match, where Estima won due to an injury suffered by Ribeiro. This time, Ribeiro would have his revenge.

Estima appeared to lack some of his timing, as he has been focusing primarily nowadays on no-gi tournaments and MMA. On the other hand, Ribeiro showed no rust whatsoever and really brought the fight to Estima. In the end, the fight would be decided by Ribeiro’s pressure and his ability to get past Estima’s tricky guard. The fight would end with a 5-2 score, and Ribeiro would take this chapter of the rivalry between these two icons.

Once the superfight ended, the Grand Prix began with the preliminary rounds taking place. The setup was the same as all the other events, with two groups of five competitors each. There were five rounds where everyone would fight one another within their group and whoever had the top two records in the group would move on to the semifinals.

The favorite of the event, Leandro “Lo” Nascimento, showed why he held that distinction as he dominated the group play. He only had one close fight in four total matches (against Diego Borges, where Lo won by one advantage). From there, Lo went on a tear, racking up points on all comers, including Clark Gracie (13-0), Juan Caio Kamezawa (10-0) and Brandon Magana (18-0).

On the other side of the group play, the one who came out spotless was Vinicius Marinho, although he didn’t have it as easy as Lo. He did not suffer a loss and thus was the No. 1 seed out of his group.

In the semifinals, Lo, being the top seed of his group, fought the No. 2 seed of the other group, which happened to be DJ Jackson. This semifinal was a rematch of their thrilling no-gi Worlds battle where Lo eked out the win by one advantage point. In their first fight in the gi, Jackson started out the match with his trademark takedown and looked to have control until the always unpredictable Lo took Jackson’s back. Up 4-2, Lo was able to secure one more sweep for good measure and move on to the final with a 6-2 victory.

In the second semifinal, Diego Borges fought Marinho. Right from the start, it was all Borges. Marinho had been on fire all day, but ran into a wall with Borges and suffered a convincing 8-0 drubbing, setting up a rematch between Borges and Lo in the finale.

In the final, the match went just as it had gone earlier in the day. One strong sweep attempt was all that was needed by Lo to take the lead and the win, his second of the day over Borges, by a 1-0 score in advantage points.

With the victory, Lo took his third Copa Podio title and remained undefeated after competing in all of their events. The event may need to be renamed after Lo, as his consistent victories are unprecedented and this event is becoming more and more of the “Leandro Lo Show.”

To close out the event, another superfight was thrown out onto the mat for the crowd’s pleasure, with Rodolfo Vieira taking on the super-tough Ricardo “Demente” Abreu. Throughout the 10 minutes, the score remained very close, but Vieira was always able to control the match and keep it in positions that he preferred. Although he was unable to solidify a few attempted guard passes, he was given three advantage points, which would end up being the difference. Vieira won by that very score, 3-0.

So, with the Copa Podio in the books and all the IBJJF events completed, there is nothing left to cover before the IBJJF World Championships set to start in Long Beach, Calif., beginning May 29. Who are you looking forward to seeing most at the upcoming Worlds? Is there anyone from this past Copa Podio that you think will have a big impact in Long Beach? Comment below and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Top Photo: Xande Ribeiro (black gi) (Gustavo Aragão/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.