With the year 2013 now at the halfway point and most of the major championships of the year in the past, it seems like a good time to take a look at and debate on what are the best matches of 2013 (up to this point).

From Rafael Mendes versus Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles to Rodolfo Vieira versus Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida and Keenan Cornelius versus Paulo Miyao, there have been no shortage of incredible top-talent match-ups that have produced plenty of entertainment for viewers.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the top five jiu-jitsu matches of 2013 (so far)…

1. Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (CheckMat) vs. Bernardo Faria (Alliance) – Worlds

Lost in the excitement of Almeida’s absolute final victory versus Vieira, Buchecha’s toughest match of the entire 2013 Worlds was his semifinal battle versus Bernardo Faria, the tournament’s eventual super-heavyweight champion. Unlike in their previous two matches, Almeida struggled to pass the Marcelo Garcia academy professor’s popular deep half guard, and he almost fell victim to it at the very end of the match. Down by two points with little time left, the now two-time absolute champion was able to scramble for a sweep and Faria was unable to counter with a sweep of his own. With the win, the absolute final was then confirmed between Vieira and Buchecha.

2. Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (Soul Fighters) vs. Rafael Mendes – Worlds

Not only was it one of the biggest upsets of the Worlds in 2013, but it was also one of the most exciting. After scuffling at the first few championships in 2013, Tanquinho looked to be fading and in most people’s eyes was no longer a threat to either Cobrinha or Rafael Mendes. But, in his last World championship, Tanquinho had the tournament of his life, as he beat four-time champion Cobrinha and the reigning three-time champion, Mendes. Down to the final seconds, Tanquinho found himself down by a single advantage and stuck in the 50/50 guard looking for a sweep. Then with 10 seconds, Tanquinho, using all of his strength, jumped on Mendes’ back. Mendes tried to stay on his feet, tying the match with an advantage. As the timer ran out, the Soul Fighters black belt, Tanquinho, suplexed the Art Of Jiu-Jitsu professor to earn the title clinching advantage point. To top it off, the crowd was electric and it quickly felt like the old days in Brazil at the Tijuca Tenis Clube in Rio de Janeiro as the building literally shook.

3. Keenan Cornelius (Atos) vs. Paulo Miyao (PSLPB Cicero Costha) – Europeans

Although the most emotionally filled match came at the Worlds, where Miyao finally conquered against rival Cornelius and became the lightest to be crowned absolute champion, the most exciting fight came at the Europeans. This was in January, while Cornelius was still unbeatable at brown belt and still representing Team Lloyd Irvin (it ended up being his last tournament with his old team) and Miyao was still searching for a way to win. In their absolute semifinal match at the Europeans, Miyao had his best chance, at the time, to dethrone Cornelius as the best brown belt in the world. Known for their double guard pull matches, the two athletes were forced to display their passing game and back attacks in one of the most nail-biting fights of the entire championship, black belts included.

4. Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (CheckMat) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (GFTeam) – Abu Dhabi World Pro

In their first match-up since their epic match at the 2012 Worlds, Buchecha and Vieira did not disappoint the fans out in Abu Dhabi and put on a great sequel to their previous bout. Going in, many still saw Vieira as the favorite, but Buchecha looked to prove that the match at the Worlds was no fluke. In this six-minute affair, we saw nothing but action throughout from the two giants and nothing but great sportsmanship in the end.

5. Clark Gracie (Gracie Elite Team) vs. Marcelo Mafra (CheckMat) – Pans

The most unlikely final of the Pan Championships ended up being one of the most exciting of the event. The middleweight category at the Pan was by far the deepest category, with guys like Otavio Sousa, Leandro “Lo” Nascimento, Kayron Gracie, D.J. Jackson, Rafael Barbosa and Vitor Henrique Oliveira, so neither of the finalists were expected to go very far. But yet there they were, and with 30 seconds left it looked like the title was going to belong to the unknown CheckMat athlete. But Gracie had plans of his own and pulled off one of the best submissions of the year with a choke from the back with an omoplata in place.

So, are you surprised we didn’t put in Brendan Schaub’s match from Metamoris? We wouldn’t blame you! But there you have the top five matches of 2013 (so far). What do you think? In your opinion, what has been the best jiu-jitsu match of 2013 so far? Comment below! Osss!

Photo: Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (Tatame)

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.