This past weekend, one of the biggest IBJJF Opens of the year took place in the famed Tijuca Tenis Club gymnasium. The event gave the crowd an opportunity to see many new and old names up close and in action.

Besides the Brazilian Nationals that take place in May, the Rio International Open is slowly becoming one of the more popular championships to attend and compete in. Held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, the event has grown substantially with each passing year, and all the belt ranks have become deeper and deeper with talent. In this year’s edition of the popular event, the black-belt category may have been the deepest it has ever been, as only the elite fighters of the current era were able to reach the top of the podium.

Here is a look at some of the black-belt results from the action that went down at Tijuca.

At roosterweight, Felipe Costa returned to the arena where he claimed his first and only black-belt World title back in 2003. Now, 10 years later, he claimed gold in the same category. Although Costa is a decade older than he was in his World title days, he still sticks his neck out in the adult categories and finds good results, like he did this past weekend, where he took Igor Rodrigues’ back to win, 4-0.

At light-featherweight, the unknown but often dangerous Jose Tiago Barros of PSLPB Cicero Costha took home the gold by dominating his final against CheckMat’s Leandro Martins. Barros outscored his opponent 14-0. Barros is a Brazilian National champion from back in 2012, so he could be a clear threat in the light-featherweight picture but only if he could fix his visa issues so that he could compete in the major tournaments in the United States. Adding him to the category would only make the division even more fun to watch.

At featherweight, Brazilian Top Team’s Leonardo Saggioro was the big name in the category. He cruised into the final, but the match was decided by the slightest of margins, with WPJJ Trial winner Isaque Paiva giving Saggioro all he could handle. However, in the end, Saggioro ended up taking the win and the gold via judges’ decision.

Lightweight saw the black-belt category’s only American finalist, AJ Agazarm, against his Gracie Barra teammate, Claudio Caloquinha. Instead of closing it out, the two black belts decided to go at it. The Brazilian would take the win by a close 3-2 score in advantages. However, even with the loss, Agazarm had a solid weekend, especially considering that he only got his black belt a little over a month ago.

Middleweight saw another familiar name take its top spot at the end of the day. Leandro “Lo” Nascimento, who is a regular lightweight, decided not to drop weight for the event and fought at the heavier weight category, but the weight difference was not noticeable. The two-time lightweight World champion made winning his category look easy as he submitted the tough CheckMat black belt Alan “Finfou” do Nascimento in the finale with an armbar. However, that wasn’t all from the day’s middleweight champion, as he had a big impact on the absolute category as well.

Medium-heavyweight went to first-year black belt Felipe Pena, who defeated Diego Gamonal of Brazilian Top Team by a score of 7-0. The Gracie Barra black belt has not had an easy year at his new rank, but his third place finish at the Brazilian Nationals and this weekend’s gold medal finish in this stacked category are indicators that good things are still to come for this young black-belt ace.

The heavyweight category saw Leandro da Costa Maciel walk away with the gold after he defeated Andre Bastos in the finale of the category. Maciel was just a part of the picture that helped bring GF Team the overall adult team title of the event, their first Rio Open title since 2011.

At superheavyweight, 2013 Worlds runner-up Joao Gabriel Rocha had an outstanding performance as he won his category by submitting Grimaldo Oliveira de Jesus Filho of GF Team in the final with a choke from the back. Rocha, like Felipe Pena, is closing in on the end of his first year as a black belt and has had resounding success in 2013. The young Soul Fighters black belt has qualified for the ADCC, won the Brazilian Nationals and placed second at the Worlds, only losing to three-time champion Bernardo Faria. So it is safe to say that the sky is the limit for the superheavyweight standout.

Ultraheavyweight saw the black-belt category’s only close-out as two GF Team members would meet up in the final. Brazilian National Champion Ricardo Evangelista and 2011 European Champion Igor Silva both reached the final of their respective bracket. Evangelista would take home the gold.

In the absolute, the natural lightweight Leandro Lo was the star by simply reaching the final against superheavyweight Joao Gabriel Rocha. However, Lo took his stardom this weekend just another step higher as he defeated the weekend’s superheavyweight champion by a single advantage point. To get there, Lo had to get past the weekend’s medium-heavyweight champion, Felipe Pena, and he did so by a 8-0 score in advantage points.

So, there are your black-belt champions of the Rio Open Championship! What did you think of the event? Talk to you all next week. Osss!

Photo: Leandro Lo (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.