Braga Neto, Tanquinho and fleet of BJJ competitors at US Open XV Santa Cruz

The 15th annual U.S. Open Brazilian JiuJitsu tournament came to a close Sunday night in Santa Cruz, California, as the black belt male finals wrapped up the 3-day long competition. With over 900 registered competitors who signed up this year, the Claudio França event continued to prove to be one of the nation’s largest BJJ tournaments and a favorite for many teams on the western coast. The tournament also generated a lot of excitement and anticipation due to the handful of well-known local and international BJJ competitors who were slated to go head to head. Some of the them who fought included—black belts, Antonio Braga Neto, Carlos Melo, Paulo Melo, Marcel ‘Mãozinha’ Fortuna, Philipe Della Monica, Rodrigo Freitas, Stephan Goyne, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes; brown belts, Nathan Mendelsohn, Brent Primus and purple belt female Mackenzie Dern.


In the black belt absolute division, Braga Neto did nothing short of shine, by displaying his pristine skill set, taking home wins via choke submission against Carlos Melo and again against James Foster. Braga Neto’s Ralph Gracie teammate, Marcel ‘Mãozinha’ Fortuna, had wins over Paulo Melo and Augusto ‘Tanquinho’ Mendes bringing him into the finals with Neto. But, the two briefly graced the mat just long enough for Neto to raise Marcel’s arm—a show that the two teammates chose not to compete against one another. Tanquino went on to win his lightweight division over Philipe Della Monica and Rodrigo Freitas.


In the purple belt female lightweight division, Mackenzie Dern and Charlene Coats had a stellar gold medal fight throughout their 7 minutes of mat time together. Dern went away with a win on points and another gold medal. At the brown belt adult male middleweight bracket, BJJ tournament regulars Nathan Mendelsohn, Tim Peterson and Brent Primus battled for the top spot. In the finals, Brent passed and finished Peterson with an armbar and then gold.


The adult male blue belt divisions were heavily stacked, with over 300 competitors filling the brackets. The division began and 9am and continued late into the evening. Late Sunday, a match up between two local Bay Area black belts in the black belt master heavyweight division was a treat for those in attendance. The crowed focused in on mat #1 to see Kurt Osiander earn 2 for a takedown against Sergio Silva and Osiander went home with the win.


            There was also the announcement of team trophy awards to the top teams (based off of points given for each medal earned by team) in juvenile, women’s, adult and master/senior. In the Juvenile division, a towering 6-foot tall first place to Fabio Prado, Claudio França for the silver and Darcio Lira’s for the bronze. In the women’s team competiton, first place to Gracie Humaitá/Rocha, second to Ralph Gracie, and Pitbull BJJ at third. In adult, first place to Gracie Humaitá/Rocha, second to Claudio França and third to Sandro Batata.


(Carlos Melo X Braga Neto, black belt absolute);

(Braga Neto X James Foster, black belt absolute);

(Mackenzie Dern X Charlene Coats)


photo by: Haywood Beaird Jr.

**Thanks to the competitors who responded to my emails and helped to fill in on some of their division results—it was impossible for one person to catch it all! Full US Open XV tournament results will be available at www.USOpenBJJ.comhopefully soon!


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Christie Sullivan