Black Belts, Men and Women! Black Belt Division Here we are, the best of the best in the gi will be crowned in the gi division. Let’s get right into it? Rooster On paper this looks like a three horse race between defending champion Daniel Otero, and challengers Bruno Malfacine and Felipe Costa. Bruno and Felipe will meet early in the division, assuming Bruno gets past the lone American in the division, Luis Gonzales (who took third at the Brasilieros by the way and is definitely no easy match. Daneil Otero probably has Andre Soares as his toughest opponent on his side of the bracket 2006 Mundials: Daniel Otero Pan Ams: Bruno Malfacine Brasilieros: Felipe Costa 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Bruno Malfacine 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Felipe Costa Super Feather 2006 Champion Bibiano Fernandes is not competing this year, and even if he was he has been fighting up a weight class as of late. Bernardo Pitel comes in with the most momentum and is on the first page of a two sided bracket, It’s difficult to bet against multiple time champion Robson Moura (who has competed as a black belt in many of the mundials), on the other page. 2006 Mundials: Bibiano Fernandes Pan Ams: Robson Moura Brasilieros: Bernardo Pitel Copa Do Mundo: Daniel Beleza CBJJE Mundials: Bernardo Pitel Featherweight Maybe the most stacked division of the entire Mudials, however the man to beat is the defending champion, Rubens Charles. He defeated Mario Reis this year in the finals of a similarly stacked Pan American but Mario has rebounded nicely to win this years Copa Do Mundo. A repeat of that showdown is anything but a gimmie however, and this division is stacked with talent. Jonathas Gugel and Bruno Frazzatto have taken gold in major events this year as well and either one of them could easily be in the finals as well, and the brackets are seeded so this could be a final four. American Jeff Glover could be the spoiler here, he seems to get better with each competition and with his confidence up he could very easily be on medal podium as well. Wellington “Megaton” Dias has been on the podium several times this year as well, but is on the same fork as Rubens. First round match up of veterans Luis Heredia and Dave Jacobs should prove interesting, both are qualified for other divisions, but are here to mix it up with the best of the best. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Rubens Charles Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Rubens Charles Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Jonathas Gurgel Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Mario Reis Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Bruno Frazatto Lightweight The big favorite here has to be Celso “Celsinho” Vinicius, looking for his third straight Mundial title at this weight class. He’s got the tougher side of the bracket however to make things interesting. A likely match up for him in the semi-finals is Lucas Lepri. He faces a stiff test in his first round however, in Marcos “Torregrossa” Alejandro, making his black belt debut. Daisuke Suge could make it out of his bracket to medal in this division as well. The Carlos Machado in this division is not the same of the Machado brothers, by the way. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Celso Vinicius Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Lucas Gomes Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Celso Vinicius Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Renê Nazaré Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Lucas Lepri Medium The huge absence in this division is Marcelo Garcia, who is currently preparing for his MMA debut in K-1. Last years runner-up Andre Galvao is back in this division after flirting with a run at Medium Heavy has decided to drop back down. The likely showdown in this division will occur between Galvao and Murilo Santana I believe, who has won at the Brasilieros and the Copa Do Mundo this year , and also has an absolute title to his credit this year (defeating Galvao). I would call Santana the lead this year. Cassio Werneck makes his return to gi competition as well, interesting as he was a runner up in this division before (only losing by two points) and yet he is on the same page of the brackets as Andre Galvao is. On the third page is heralded American Mike Fowler, who has certainly emerged as a top notch competitor, but has two losses in the last year to Andre Galvao. This division I’ll be watching with a keen interest because I’m also on the third page of the brackets. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Marcelo Garcia Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Marcelo Garcia Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Murilo Santana Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Yan Cabral Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Murilo Santana Medium Heavy Braulio was forced to withdraw due to injury so were going to see a new champion in this division. Also, CBJJE champ Andre Galvao has opted to move back down to his the Medio. A lot of talent remains in this division however. Pan American and Brasilieros champion Romlo Barral holds a slight edge as the favorite here, his stiffest competition (and one of the better emerging rivalries on the circuit) comes from Tarsis Humphries. Keep an eye on American Luke Stewart, who dropped a controversial match to Tarsis at the Pan Americans. Saulo Ribiero comes out of his Mundial retirement to enter the division, as a six time world champion, could take this division as well. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Braulio Estima Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Romulo Barral Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Romulo Barral Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Alexandre de Souza Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Andre Galvao Heavyweight The top seed here has to be the King of the 2006 Mundial, defending champion “Xande” Ribeiro. 2007 has seen it’s share of ups and downs for Xande however, as he took a devastating loss and injury to Braulio Estima in the finals of the European Absolute. He healed up and came back strong to win his division at ADCC, but then dropped a grueling bout in the first round of the absolute division to David Avellan. How will Xande look at the Mundials. He’s proven that he’s virtually unstoppable when he’s on, and Xande claims he is on right now. A few standouts are looking to spoil Xande’s party however. The most intriguing name has to be Fernando “Margarida” Pontes who is making another return to the BJJ competition scene. Margarida is a two time Absolute champion himself, and when he was on his run you could argue he was the most dominating champion in the history of the Mundials. A motorcycle accident and subsequent long lay off definitely hurt Margarida’s competition game however, and never seemed to recapture the magic he had in his impeccable run. But maybe it’s back now? Also returning from a long lay off from competition is Flavio Almedia, and I have to admit the Margarida vs Flavio battles are some of my favorite gi matches of all time. The hottest athlete in this division has to be Roverto Tozi, who won at the Brasileros and the CBJJE Mundials this year. Eduardo Telles also deserves mention as the Pan American champion this year. American standout Rick Macauley is also in the mix here as well. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Alexandre Ribeiro Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Eduardo Telles Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Roberto Tozi Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Bruno Bastos Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Roberto Tozi Super Heavy The easy story here would be to say that Roger Gracie is the favorite in the division and leave it at that. However, he will have no easy time here I believe and there are a few others than could legitimately take the title here. On the same page of the two page bracket is Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros, perhaps the most underrated two time Mundial Absolute champion there is. On the second page is a red hot Robert Drysdale, fresh off the absolute title at ADCC this year. The forth seed, and a name that I believe we will be talking about for sometime, is Antonio Braga Neto. Antonio will be making his Black Belt Mundial debut, but he has division wins in the his division and the absolute division for the brown, purple and blue belt divisions of each of the previous years. If he can continue this streak into the black belts it would be a remarkable feat. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Roger Gracie Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Rafael Lovato Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Rafael Lovato Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Antônio Braga Neto Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Adriano Pires Super Super Heavy Interesting strategy here, as Rafael Lovato Jr. arguably the best American gi competitor on the circuit, has decided not to enter the division he has taken three gold medals in this year (Super Heavyweight) and moved up to the Super Super Heavyweight. The thing is, Rafael is naturally a Heavyweight and in this case now is fighting a full two weight divisions above his walking weight. Teammate Vinicius Magalhaes draw Roy “Big Country” Nelson in the first round. UFC 2 veteran Remco Parduel makes his return to the black belt division here, but has a tough draw in Ricardo Barros, the winner of which has an even tougher draw in Brailieros and CBJJE champion Luis “Big Mac” Theodoro. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Gabriel Gonzaga Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Comprido Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Luiz Theodoro Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Henrique Marcos Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Luis Theodoro Absolute Traditionally, the brackets are not made for the Absolute division until the day of. Xande will be here to defend hs crown, Roger will try to finally take the gold here. Lots of other names will attempt to take the title here however. We will also likely see former champions In Margarida and Comprido. Three others competing this weeked have claimed Absolute titles this year including Romulo Barral, Luiz Theodoro and Murilo Santana. Americans Robert Drysdale and Rafael Lovato Jr are America’s best chances in this division. Antonio Braga Neto will certainly look to meet the success he’s enjoyed in the absolute division of all the previous belt levels. Winner @ 2006 Mundials: Xande Ribiero Winner @ 2007 Pan Ams: Romulo Barral Winner @ 2007 Brasilieros: Luiz Theodoro Winner @ 2007 Copa Do Mundo: Fabricio Werdum Winner @ 2007 CBJJE Mundials: Murilo Santana Female Brown/Black Who else would try to preview the women’s division? Historically the United States has seen the best competition fields for women anywhere, it would make sense that the Mundials will be among the toughest gi fields ever for women. Super Feather Pan American champion Kanako Inaba was the only female in the division at the Pan Amerricans, at the Mundials there are six competitors. Last year’s champion Michelle Nicolini returns to defend her title, her toughest competition will be on the same side of her bracket in Felicia Oh, who is dropping a weight division from her champion run at the Pan Americans. 2006 Mundials Michele Nicoline Brasa Pan Americans Kanako Inaba Champion JJ Featherweight 8 woman division here and defending champion Leticia Ribeiro (you may recall her from beating up Steve-O on the Wild Boyz) is here as the favorite of the division. 2006 Mundials: Leticia Ribeiro Gracie Humaita Pan Americans: Felicia Oh Machado JJ Lightweight Defending champion Kyra Gracie is out, still rehabbing a knee injured at ADCC. In the four woman division I would suggest that 2006 runner up Hannette Quadros is the favorite now. 2006 Mundials Kyra Gracie Gracie Barra Pan Americans Kyra Gracie Gracie Barra Middleweight Three ladies in this division, and Emily Kwok draw the bye. I would reckon Pan Americans champion Luciana Dias is the favorite, who matches Kris Shaw in the first round. 2006 Mundials Caroline de Lazzerok FGJJ Pan Americans Luciana Dias Gracie Humaita Medium Heavy Four women in here, and a new champion will be crowned. Penn Thomas took the Pan American title without opposition, but took the ADCC crown in a stacked field. 2006 Mundials Luzia Fernandes Gracie Barra Pan Americans Penny Thomas Maui Jiu-Jitsu Stay tuned for plenty of results and more, here at OntheMat.com!