What I have learned from this year’s Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World Championship is that we must never look back at past results to help us determine the outcome of a division, because the past is irrelevant at that point. Also, we cannot look at which competitors have beaten other competitors before. Just because competitor A has beaten competitor B and competitor B has beaten competitor C, doesn’t automatically mean competitor A will beat competitor C. Styles make match-ups, and it also depends on who is just a little bit sharper when it counts the most.

The ADCC usually has wild and unpredictable results, and the 2013 edition was no different. Let’s try to break down exactly what happened in each weight category.

-66 kg / 145.5 pound Division

The final match-up between Rafael Mendes and Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles was probably the most predictable final of all the categories, but the result was something we hadn’t seen since the 2009 Worlds. Although they are considered to have the biggest rivalry in the sport, all the matches since Mendes’ first ADCC win in 2009 have gone to Mendes…until this past weekend. In their third straight ADCC final together, the two had a clash similar to the ones in 2009 and 2011.

The two World champions exchanged takedown attempts and 50/50 guard sweeps and foot locks for 40 minutes and two overtimes without there ever being a score. In the end, the judges decided to raise Cobrinha’s hand due to the fact that he was getting the better of the takedown game. After years of waiting for his moment, the four-time IBJJF World champion finally captured his first ADCC title.

-77 kg / 169.8 pound Division

In one of the craziest divisions, Kron Gracie lived up to his favorite status and won his first ADCC title in his third attempt. The Gracie was challenged mightily by newly promoted black belt Garry Tonon in his quarterfinal bout. After being down 6-0 to the ultra-tough Tonon, Kron was finally able to secure back control and put the squeeze on Garry’s neck. Still down, Kron forced Tonon to tap out with only three seconds left, lifting Gracie to the semifinals.

In the finals, Gracie met up with a familiar foe in Otavio Sousa, who had just dispatched two-time champion Leo Vieira. The final lacked any action until Sousa finally made his first move by shooting in on Gracie. However, he made the mistake of leaving his neck out and was forced to tap to a guillotine almost immediately after hitting the mat. The gold belonged to Gracie, the silver went to Sousa and bronze was attained by Jonathan “JT” Torres.

-88 kg / 194 pound Division

Another unpredictable division ended up having a first-time champion. Romulo Barral has never been known for his no-gi game, but this championship proved that he’s still one of the best around, with or without the gi. Barral cruised into the semifinal, where he met the young talent Keenan Cornelius. In their first match-up of what could be many to come, Barral eked out the win over the new black belt by one penalty point.

In the final, Barral faced Rafael Lovato Jr., who was also in search of his first ADCC title. However, the day would belong to Barral. After an even first half of the match, one slip up from Lovato Jr. allowed Barral to take his back with the hooks and receive three points, thus sealing the victory and the gold medal.

-99 kg / 218 pound Division

In possibly the least intriguing category of the event, the final ended up being one of the weekend’s shockers. The reigning champion, Dean Lister, looked to be well on his way to repeating as champion until Joao Assis came around and took the title from Lister. As the clock ticked down in their final, Assis controlled Lister, sweeping him and then taking his back and securing both hooks for the huge 5-0 win.

+99 kg / over 218 pound Division

The heaviest category was expected to belong to Vinny Magalhaes, the defending champion, with Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida lining up as his biggest challenge. But Magalhaes lost his second fight to the most unlikely challenger, Jared Dopp, a purple belt under Lovato Jr. He unseated the champion with the biggest upset of the tournament. From there, Dopp went on to lose to Joao Gabriel Rocha in the semifinal bout.

In the finale, it would come down to Buchecha and Rocha, a battle of two of the gi’s biggest stars. The match remained even for most of the bout, until Buchecha finally put on a heel hook that Rocha was unable to defend. Rocha was forced to tap. First ADCC event for the king, Buchecha, and his first ADCC title as well.


Possibly the most dramatic moment of the entire event came in the absolute final between Buchecha and Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. The two friends and former teammates engaged in a crazy war that went back and forth. Fortunately for Cyborg, he went more forth than back.

After defeating Cornelius in the semifinals, Cyborg came out strong in his final with Buchecha and took Almeida’s back. Ultimately, he took the absolute title by a score of 10-0. This was ultimate redemption for Cyborg, who lost his semifinal match in his weight class earlier in the day to Buchecha.

Now, with the absolute gold in hand, Cyborg will take on Andre Galvao in the 2015 ADCC superfight after Galvao submitted Braulio Estima in this year’s superfight match-up.

What shocked you the most from this year’s ADCC? What lessons did you take from the event? Comment below! Osss!

Photo: Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu (Erin Herle/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.