The year 2013 has provided the jiu-jitsu community with a great deal of excitement and intrigue throughout the 12-month calendar year. Starting with the Europeans in January, where Keenan Cornelius passed Paulo Miyao’s impassable guard, all the way to November, when Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu did the unthinkable by beating Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida in the ADCC absolute final, the year has been nothing short of amazing.

Now, with 2014 on the horizon, we can only imagine how things can get even better, starting once again at the Europeans in January. Here are some of the things to look out for:

Can Rodolfo Vieira finally get back at his rival, Buchecha?

In 2012, after Rodolfo Vieira submitted Buchecha at the 2011 World absolute semifinal, Vieira was the big-time favorite and Buchecha was cast as an underdog. Then, even after Buchecha had his miraculous win at the 2012 Worlds, he was still deemed as an underdog going into 2013. Now, however, after three consecutive wins over the last two years, including victories over Vieira at the 2013 World Pro in Abu Dhabi and the absolute final at the Worlds, Buchecha can no longer be considered the underdog.

Vieira, embracing his new role, decided that changes needed to be made to better prepare himself for Buchecha. So, the three-time heavyweight World champion will be fighting at super-heavyweight this coming year. Vieira has commented in the past that it has been tough for him to make weight, and dieting while also fighting bigger guys in the absolute hasn’t been easy. Now, Vieira should be at full strength to fight in the absolute against the current ultra-heavyweight and absolute champion. Can 2014 be Vieira’s turn to get his second absolute title?

How will the new black belts fare with the big boys?

The 2013 class of new black belts may be the best group there has been in a long time. There already seems to be a good number of them that can contend for a World title in 2014. Many are interested to see how Keenan Cornelius and the Miyao brothers fare in their first big go-around at black belt. It should be interesting to see if Cornelius can possibly close out with his instructor, Andre Galvao, while an equally intriguing storyline lies in how the Miyao brothers do if they should square off with Rafael or Guilherme Mendes. There has been only one match-up where Joao Miyao fought Rafael Mendes at ADCC, but their battles in the gi are ones people are looking forward to the most.

Also, it should be interesting to see how Francisco “Sinistro” Iturralde should fare in the light or middleweight categories. The Alliance black belt had his bumps in the road at brown belt, but he has looked very sharp in his first few tournaments at black belt. With wins over Vitor Oliveira and Phillipe Della Monica, this young Alliance black belt cannot be counted out at any championship in the coming year.

Could we see Roger Gracie return?

With the only three-time absolute champion just recently cut from the UFC roster, could we possibly see him back in the gi at 2014?

After a disappointing UFC debut where he fought poorly and ultimately lost to Tim Kennedy, Gracie was released and has yet to sign with any other MMA organization. If this continues to be the case moving forward, maybe we could see him back in the mix on the jiu-jitsu mats and taking on the likes of Buchecha and Vieira. If this were to happen, then it is almost certain we will have one of the most exciting years to date.

The jiu-jitsu community will keep its fingers crossed on that one.

Who will be the standouts at the lower belt ranks?

Without Cornelius or the Miyaos, who will stand out at the lower ranks this coming year?

The dynamic trio of Cornelius and Paulo and Joao Miyao stole the spotlight in the brown belt category in 2013, but now, with them out of the picture, who will be the next big name in the colored belt groups? It’s hard to say. There are so many prospects out there, and so I’ll leave this up to you, the reader.

Who will be the big guys to watch out for in the purple and brown belt categories in 2014?

Comment below! Osss!

Photo: Roger Gracie (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.