2015 IBJJF World Championship Underway in Long Beach

Roger Gracie defends against Buchecha at Metamoris 2013
(Image courtesy Metamoris)

You are watching the IBJJF World Championship this weekend online right? That’s what IBJJFTV.com is for! We are always open to hearing opposing views, but many would argue strongly that the “Mundials” are Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s biggest event of the year.

Today we share some notes on the 2015 BJJ World Championship from the intrepid chronicler of jiu-jitsu history, J-Sho!

  • Wellington “Megaton” Diaz will be competing in his twentieth world championship! Wellington is Mackenzie Dern’s father, husband to Luciana Diaz, and all around inspiration to all! Megaton would’ve probably competed in more but there have only been twenty!
  • Until just a few short moments ago, Buchecha (pictured above in the blue gi) was the favorite to win his division as well as the absolute black belt men’s division. However as GracieMag just reported, Buchecha was eliminated by Richardo Evangelista by advantages! If Buchecha had gone on to win double gold medals, he would have surpassed the achievement of Roger Gracie! At the moment however, it looks like his left knee may be injured, impacting his chances for the rest of this year’s event.
  • Can you name the four men who have won a gold medal at black belt five times? Here goes: Marcelo Garcia, Robson Moura, Rodolfo Vieira, and Saulo Ribeiro!

Many thanks to J-Sho for the BJJ trivia! If you are competing this weekend in the Pyramid, best of luck! Let us know what your experience was like!

$20,000 in Prizes Awarded in Second IBJJF Pro League

BJJ athlete Keenan Cornelius
Keenan Cornelius (blue gi) back in his days as a purple belt.

Walter Pyramid at CSU Long Beach Plays Host

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s second BJJ Pro League wrapped up today at Cal State University Long Beach, with four competitors walking home $5,000 richer. In order to qualify for the event, the cumulative scores of male competitors’ IBJJF tournament activity throughout 2013 were considered. While there are usually ten IBJJF male weight classes for adults, these were contracted into four in this second annual event and each of these four groups contained four competitors.

The event marks the IBJJF’s second time in which its competitors were compensated for their efforts. The Federation’s maturation continues, as 2013 also saw the first testing for performance enhancing drugs among athletes, and a record-setting forty-six IBJJF events took place around the world, up from thirty-six in 2012.


Rooster / Light Feather / Feather

  • Samir Chantre defeated Rafael “Barata” Freitas (Gracie Barra).
  • Gabriel Moraes defeated Laercio Fernandes (Alliance).
  • Gabriel Moraes defeated Samir Chantre on points and wins the gold medal and $5,000.

Light / Middle

  • Victor Estima (Gracie Barra) defeated Oswaldo “Quexinho” Moizinho.
  • Vitor Oliveira defeated Francisco Iturralde (Alliance).
  • Victor Estima defeated Vitor Oliveira by reverse triangle, wins the gold medal and $5,000.

Middle Heavy / Heavy

  • Jackson de Souza defeated Roberto “Tussa” Alencar.
  • Keenan Cornelius (Atos) defeated Diego Gamonal.
  • Keenan Cornelius defeated Jackson de Souza on points, wins the gold medal and $5,000.

Super Heavy / Ultra Heavy

  • Marcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz defeated Ricardo Evangelista.
  • Gustavo Pires defeated Eduardo Telles.
  • Marcio Cruz defeated Gustavo Pires by armlock, wins the gold medal and $5,000.

2013 IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship Thoughts

A star continues to shine: “Buchecha”, here in the blue gi gives Roger Gracie all he can handle at the first Metamoris in 2012. Buchecha won his weight division and the absolute at the 2013 Pans. Image courtesy Metamoris.

The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation’s 2013 Pan Championship has passed. Another blockbuster event in Irvine come and gone, with more than three thousand competitors! I was once again part of the commentary team with Budo Videos (thanks guys!) on their broadcast of the action on Saturday and Sunday. While I had one of the best seats in the house, the sheer volume of the action means that by the end of those days, if you ask any of us about the event, it’s difficult to remember much! You know how when you stare out of a moving car at the scenery as it goes by, and it’s just a blur of thousands of colors? It’s the same for us on those days except the colors are mostly limited to that of blue gis, white gis, brown belts and black belts. Faces all blend together.

Now that a few days have gone by, a few things about the event stand out to me (in no particular order)…

USADA Testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs

We cannot deny that PEDs have been present – and according to some, pervasive – at certain levels of BJJ competition in recent years (although some argue how much it matters). In late January of this year, the IBJJF announced that for the first time ever and to the tune of more than 1,000 “likes”, competitors at IBJJF events would be subject to testing for PEDs. The Pans of 2013 were the first event where that happened.

The black belt finals for male and female athletes took place just to the right of where we were seated. After being mat-side at so many IBJJF events, you tend to know most of the faces you see where we sit. If someone’s not with Budo Videos, they’re either from the BJJ media, Ethan Kreiswirth’s paramedic team, or IBJJF staff. However after these finals matches, the moment the athletes stepped off the mats they were immediately lead away by an unfamiliar man and woman in bleach-white collared shirts. Of course, they were the straight-laced USADA representatives escorting the competitors to provide urine samples for testing.

According to Pans female black belt heavyweight and absolute champion Gabi Garcia on March 27 on twitter, the following athletes were tested:

  • Gabi Garcia (Alliance)
  • Andre Galvao (Atos)
  • Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (CheckMat)
  • Roberto “Tussa” Alencar (Gracie Barra)
  • Vanessa Oliveira do Nascimento (GF Team)
  • Luiza Monteiro (Cicero Costha)
  • Rafa Mendes (Atos)
  • Gui Mendes (Atos)
  • Caio Terra (Brasa)

So what happens now? When will we know the results? What happens to an athlete if they are found to be in violation of the USADA guidelines for PEDs?

The IBJJF is directing all interested parties to USADA for information. According to the USADA website:

Athletes tested by USADA will receive their results by mail within 2-6 weeks from the date of their test. Tests administered by USADA on behalf of other sport organizations or federations will be subject to that organization’s results management process and Athletes will not receive results for those tests from USADA.

Things we all hope to learn soon:

  • If Gabi’s list of tested athletes is complete
  • What the penalties or sanctions are for an athlete who fails their test
  • If we can expect the testing to extend beyond black belt champions and if so, how soon

Alliance Continues to Dominate… or Do They?

The results of the three top-placing athletes shall count for points in the overall inter-academy contest for each division of the competition.

The following points are awarded for each of the top three placements:

Champion – 9 points
Runner up – 3 points
Third place – 1 point

– General Competition Guidelines, Section 3 of the IBJJF Rule Book

Each In the early days of IBJJF competition, it seemed that Gracie Barra predictably earned the highest total in team results at IBJJF events. However for the past several years, Alliance Jiu-Jitsu has dominated. In fact, Alliance has earned first place in every Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship since 2010, and every World Championship since 2008!

Look at the point margins between Alliance and its opponents over the past few years. (The IBJJF only began publishing point totals along with rankings in 2011, so it’s unknown how easily Alliance may have won in earlier years.)

Alliance barely won the 2013 Pans.

Atos Jiu-Jitsu, lead by Andre Galvao and Ramon Lemos earned just two points less than Alliance.

We reached out to Alliance’s leader Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti in Atlanta, who had this to say about the narrow margin of points:

Jacare: The other teams are getting more organized in order to win the competition because we have been winning the last editions of all the tournaments and all the other guys want to find a way to stop us. Why was it so close? Atos has a very organized team, and they got some pretty good reinforcements. They got 18 points with Keenan (Cornelius). And that made a lot of difference. Plus we lost four or five finals which made the difference of those 2 points. But it’s good for us. It raises our awareness that the next time we have to do better.

The FightWorks Podcast: Do you plan to change any strategy or tactics at the Worlds in June?

Jacare: No. We don’t plan to change anything. A lot of athletes that were supposed to compete from Brazil didn’t come for one reason or another. Atos now has their headquarters in California, so they have a big school with Andre Galvao in San Diego, and another school with the Mendes Brothers, and so they were able to have a really good camp with all their guys ready to go. Our plan will be the same: to try to get the best athletes to compete, to bring the ones who couldn’t come this time because they were hurt… and try to get everybody together. The plan is the same. We keep everyone organized and training hard. But it’s good to have teams like Atos and the other teams are getting better. It’s a good challenge for us!

Womens Finals

In recent years watching the finals in the upper divisions of female competitors has really been a joy because the athletes put on a show in every match. One could expect furious back-and-forth action for the length of the match, whether the outcome came quickly by submission or if the match lasted into the latter moments of regulation time.

This year at the Pans – if memory serves – no female finals match ended in submission. All of the seven divisions’ matches went the distance and most had very low differences in points. While this may be the result of very talented opponents with equal skills, it could also reflect a greater emphasis on going out there with a mission of playing it conservative to win by points. The strategy is understandable but nonetheless it leaves something to be desired for fans.

Individual Stand-Outs

There were performances at the Pans that were arguably career-defining moments. A few that come to mind:

  • Clark Gracie’s come-from-behind victory in the middle weight mens’ finals over Marcelo “Lapela” Mafra (video). Clark was losing for the majority of this match and it looked like he was destined for a silver medal against Lapela, who looked unstoppable that weekend. Clark’s competition record in 2013 included a big bump in the road: he had recently been choked unconscious in a very short match by newly-promoted Gracie Barra black belt Magid Hage. Not only did Clark defeat Lapela… in the closing moments… after being down on points most of the match… he wins by submission… and chokes Lapela unconscious! Victories happen in every match by definition but few pack the dramatic value that this match did. The renewed attention on Clark online after the event and his good looks even lead to a visit to Good Morning America.
  • Guto Campos’s defeat of Gracie Barra’s Romulo Barral. Those in the know have been aware of Gustavo Campos and the danger he brings. But for the most part this fearsome foe’s results have been limited to finishes just on the brink of earning a medal. However this time around along his ride to a silver medal in the medium heavy division, he was able to defeat one of jiu-jitsu’s most successful and charismatic competitors in Romulo Barral. The encounter was close until about halfway, when some combination of Campos’ turning on the afterburners and Romulo’s concentration lapsing lead to a victory with a score of 10-4. Remembering a margin of victory that large over “Rominho” is not easy. It must have been a very satisfying victory for Campos.
  • Buchecha. Of course, Buchecha. Many would call CheckMat BJJ’s Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida the most exciting competitor today. While the question was always, “Who can beat Roger Gracie?” (we still lack an answer) with Roger often diverted by mixed martial arts, the void he’s left has thankfully been filled by a much younger Buchecha.

    At the Pans Buchecha steamrolled all his opponents with the exception of Andre Galvao, whom he met in the finals of the absolute division and defeated by a score of four to two. While Buchecha did enjoy a size advantage over Galvao, the scrambles and constant activity kept the audience enthralled. Large, strong, and hungry for submission victories, Buchecha is not only bringing excitement to the heavy divisions and absolute division matches he competes in but he brings “star power” to the sport itself.

Also of Interest:

Lloyd Irvin Reflects on the 2012 No Gi World Championship

Lloyd Irvin wins a medal at the 2012 No Gi World Championships
Lloyd Irvin wins at the IBJJF 2012 No Gi World Championships.

Maryland-based Team Lloyd Irvin came in second place at the 2012 IBJJF No Gi World Championship, a strong outcome by any measure. The team’s founder Lloyd Irvin Junior was able to take a few moments from his very busy schedule to answer some questions we had about his team’s performance at the event.

The FightWorks Podcast: Your team has successful jiu-jitsu athletes across belts and genders. Talk about some of your standouts this time around.

Lloyd Irvin Jr.: It’s hard to go into standouts because overall everyone did well. We had lots of gold medals, lots of medals. There’s no one person who stood out. If you forced me, I’d say DJ because he became our first Black Belt no gi world champion.

The FightWorks Podcast: After a long time away from competition, you also stepped on the mats and won your weight division, black belt I senior heavy. What was that like?

Lloyd Irvin Jr.: It was great! I did it more so as a way to motivate the team. We had a lot of high energy and expectations going into no gi worlds and I thought throwing my hat in there and telling the guys I’m going to battle with them, getting back in shape, training to compete all that would be a great motivation and it was. It felt great!

The FightWorks Podcast: There was some controversy around the outcome of the black belt lightweight finals match between Team Lloyd Irvin competitor JT Torres and Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (Soul Fighters International). JT was winning by a narrow margin until the closing moments of the match, when Tanquinho was awarded an advantage that gave him the victory. The evening of the finals, you wrote on your twitter account @lloydirvin, “What happened to JT in the finals is a disgrace! It’s deeper than anyone knows”. What did you mean?

Lloyd Irvin Jr.: I meant that some people think that this is a game, that this is all fun and game but this stuff affects people lives. People dedicate their lives to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and you have a situation where people are blatantly cheating. This is way bigger than just the JT match. There’s a serious problem going on and it’s affecting peoples lives.

The FightWorks Podcast: At the conclusion of that match between JT and Tanquinho it looked as if you might have been angry with JT. Were the comments you were making then directed at him or at the referees?

Lloyd Irvin Jr.: I have no idea how anyone would think anything was directed at JT. It was clearly directed at the refs and the people in the stands that were cheering after that travesty. Tanquinho pulled with no grips, JT backed up because there was no grips, the ref gave JT a negative point with no warning, which totally changed the landscape of the match. I mean there are several times during the match where Tanquinho doesn’t engage and runs away during the take down battles and he was not penalized or even given a warning. As soon as JT was given the penalty I knew what they were doing. If you watch the video I tell JT “you know what’s up, you know what they’re doing!” In pro sports it’s called point shaving, and it’s a crime.

Tanquinho is declared the winner against JT Torres
A controversial outcome: Tanquinho defeats JT Torres at the 2012 No Gi Jiu-Jitsu World Championships.

The FightWorks Podcast: All said and done, how do you feel about the outcome of the event as you look at your team’s work?

Lloyd Irvin Jr.: I’m happy with my team’s performance. There are a few people who I expected to medal and did not, but we’ll fix those errors going into the next competition.

The FightWorks Podcast: Which Team Lloyd Irvin athletes might we see competing on December 8th for a shot at $5,000 in the first-ever IBJJF Pro League event? It looks like JT Torres will have a bid, but will others be competing earlier that day at the Long Beach Fall Open in hopes of earning a spot to compete later that evening?

Lloyd Irvin Jr.: DJ Jackson is the only one competing on December 8.

Related: Lightweight Champion “Tanquinho” Mendes on the 2012 IBJJF No Gi World Championship

Rafael Lovato Junior Reviews the 2012 No Gi World Championship

no gi submission grappling
Roberto “Tussa” Alencar (left) faces Rafael Lovato Jr. at the 2012 No Gi World Championship last weekend.

Halley’s comet predictably visits earth every seventy-five years. In the same way certain celestial bodies will regularly meet, the world of black belt jiu-jitsu has two stars whose paths also appear to eternally tangle. Another epic encounter between Oklahoma native and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Rafael Lovato Jr (Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu) and Brazilian Roberto “Tussa” Alencar (Gracie Barra) formed the finale of the 2012 No Gi World Championship on Sunday at the Long Beach Pyramid. This time Tussa earned the gold by referee decision after time expired.

The FightWorks Podcast: Rafael, you have medaled again at the highest level in another IBJJF event. The event was nearly perfect for you and even included a submission of CheckMat’s very dangerous Nivaldo de Oliveira. How do you feel about your performance at the 2012 No Gi World Championship?

Rafael Lovato Jr: I’m not happy with it, because I failed to do what I was there to do, become a 3x Champion. I was feeling great en route to the final, but I wasn’t able to complete my mission.

The FightWorks Podcast: You ended up losing in the finals to Roberto “Tussa” Alencar in the finals by referees’ decision. How many times have you faced Tussa in your career and what are your thoughts about how that match played out on Sunday?

Rafael Lovato Jr: I played the strategy I wanted to play with Tussa. I believed that I could sweep him and I had him in many of my sweeping positions, but he did a great job defending and staying heavy. More than half the match was spent with him defending my sweeps and attacks, but they gave the match to him. I knew it could go either way and I was just very angry with myself that I wasn’t able to complete one of my sweeps on him when I had so many opportunities. It really hurts to lose by referee’s decision in the final!

I have now faced Tussa six times, with four matches going in my favor. He is a warrior and we always have great matches that are really close. I respect him a lot and congratulate him on winning his fourth No-Gi title, I just wish it wasn’t over me 🙂

Rafael Lovato Jr. in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu match
Rafael Lovato Jr. cinches a last-second victory over Tussa at the 2008 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship to win the gold medal. Photo credit: Aliciaphotos.com

The FightWorks Podcast: You’ve bounced around in weight divisions over the years at the IBJJF No Gi World Championships. In 2009 you were a super heavyweight and won silver, in 2010 you were heavyweight and won gold, in 2011 you were a medium heavyweight and won gold, and now in 2012 you were a heavyweight and won silver. That’s a lot of success. Do you think this means that there may not be an ideal weight for a jiu-jitsu athlete? Should BJJ competitors experiment over the years with different weight divisions or is there a “sweet spot” they should attempt to find?

Rafael Lovato Jr: Yes, I’ve competed at all four of the highest weight classes over the years, but I don’t know if that is something that every BJJ athlete should do. For me it is much easier, because I have a good guard and I’m flexible so I think my game works well with the bigger guys. Also, I am long and have the ability to put weight on or lean up and compete at a lighter division. Heavyweight is my natural weight and I feel best there, but I experimented cutting down to medium heavyweight this past year and it was a good experience. Earlier in my Black Belt career I was bigger and would compete in heavier divisions to stay out of my teammate, Xande Ribeiro‘s division. I’m happy that I’ve been able to show that my Jiu-Jitsu is effective against all different styles & sizes.

The FightWorks Podcast: You brought family members from Oklahoma to watch you compete. Who’d you bring? Do you get anxious knowing that they’re watching?

Rafael Lovato Jr: Yes, I always bring my wife to the World events. She was there and then I had the surprise of my father showing up at my hotel room the day before the event started. He had just returned from a long trip in Spain where he did the Camino de Santiago and he was gone for 6 weeks. He came home just in time to watch my victory at Metamoris over the internet and he didn’t want to miss me at the No-Gi Worlds. It was great to have him and my wife there. I really wanted to win for them! My father is the reason I do BJJ and my wife has given me incredible support during my whole career.

The FightWorks Podcast: How do you feel about the IBJJF’s new ranking system for black belts? As of this writing, you’re ranked number 50.

Rafael Lovato Jr: I think the ranking system still has some kinks to work out. I mean, guys like Xande Ribeiro and Roger Gracie aren’t even in the top 10 for their weight classes. Cobrinha and Marcelo Garcia aren’t even ranked in the top 7 of their divisions. Some of the veterans have a lot on their plates with their academies and business and are only able to compete at the Worlds or maybe the Worlds and one other event. There are some people who are eligible to compete at the Pro League who have never won or even medaled at the World Championship, but they do a lot of the Open events and medal at the smaller tournaments and they have a lot of points, I don’t think that is right. If you were on the podium at the Worlds this year, you should be able to compete at the Pro League without having to qualify at the regular tournament held that morning.

The FightWorks Podcast: Can we expect to see you in action again on December 8th at the Long Beach Fall International Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship, fighting for a chance to compete for $5,000 in the first ever IBJJF Pro League later that evening?

Rafael Lovato Jr: No, I feel I have done more than enough to earn my shot at the Pro League competition having won 6 World Black Belt medals from 2007-2012 and being the most accomplished American in BJJ. I will be back at the Gi & No-Gi Worlds next year. Now, I am going to get some rest and spend time with my family, focus on my academy and my team. Also, I will be releasing my online coaching program – www.ultimatepressurepassingsystem.com to new members this month and I’m very excited about it! I added a Kimura series to the program that shows exactly what I did at the Metamoris against Kayron Gracie. Everyone is going to love it!

Lightweight Champion “Tanquinho” Mendes on the 2012 IBJJF No Gi World Championship

JT Torres and Tanquinho
Tanquinho applies the choke to JT Torres at the 2012 No Gi World Championship which earned him the victory and a gold medal.

The FightWorks Podcast: Tanquinho, this is your first gold medal as a black belt at the IBJJF No-Gi World Championship. How does it feel? How does this compare to other accomplishments in your career?

Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: I have been trying for a while to get the World title at the black belt from IBJJF and the feeling of finally winning, especially after coming back from my neck surgery is incredible! I am really happy!! I think each title is important at the time that you win for many different reasons. This World title is not anymore or less important that my other titles throughout my career. But this title will be my memory of overcoming of everything that I have been through and being able to come back and compete at the high level!

The FightWorks Podcast: How did you prepare for the event? Was most of your preparation done in Arizona?

Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: All of my preparation for the Worlds No Gi was in Arizona at Megaton’s Academy! All of my training for the tournament I did with the gi. The last week before the tournament I trained No Gi to adapt positions for no gi. I did this because I stayed a really long time without training, because of my surgery, and I needed to recover the timing of positions and my reaction timing, and I can only do that with the gi. I also was focused on my physical preparation! I know that No Gi uses a lot of cardio so I wanted to make sure that I would not get tired!

The FightWorks Podcast: The match against JT Torres (Lloyd Irvin) in the finals generated controversy. JT was winning until the closing moments when you applied a choke that is essentially a triangle with no arm inside. In those final seconds you were awarded an advantage point that gave you the victory. Can you talk about that? There seems to be a difference between what some people think the rules are and what the three referees that day think the rules are.

Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: Yeah, unfortunately a lot of people are showing how they do not know or don’t completely understand the rules and are not very knowledgeable of positions. The choke I did is not a triangle, how I have seen a lot of people confusing it to be as. A triangle position with or without an arm inside is a blood choke, meaning it stops the blood from going to the brain. The choke I did, I learned it by the name as crab choke, is an air choke, so it blocks your esophagus. If you tried to do the crab choke but with your legs in a triangle position you would not get the position at all. I really don’t know what people are so confused about the rules. For every argument that I have heard, such as “JT was not warned before he was penalized”, or “he needed to defend the choke to get an advantage”, or even “the referees are corrupt and they have never made a bad call in favor of an American guy”, all have quick and easy answers. Plus, just for people to be thinking all of these things shows that they are not knowledgeable of the rules or the federation. I don’t want to address every argument to have to explain myself. I know the rules and I know how much I trained and fought my best to win and I am absolutely confident that I won.

The FightWorks Podcast: In 2010 and 2011 you almost won your division but in both of those years Lucas Lepri (Alliance) stopped you and you ended up with the silver medal. This year Lepri was not able to compete due to illness. Do you wish you had the opportunity to face him this time?

Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: Lucas was better then me in 2010 and 2011 without a doubt! I did not go to fight this year thinking about just fighting him. I just trained and prepared myself to fight against who ever would be in the division, and I knew there would just be tough guys! I knew that there was a chance I could win or lose to Lucas just like there was a chance against JT and Leandro or anyone else in the lightweight division but I was confident in my game and preparation!

The FightWorks Podcast: There are some competitors who perform very well in the gi but sometimes their game is not as strong without the gi. Which do you think is stronger for you, gi or no gi?

Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: I don’t think that I am stronger in one or the other! I am really good at adapting my game to gi or no gi! There are a lot of things in my game that are easier to do with the gi, but then on the other hand, there are a lot of different things that I have adapted to my game that work better with no gi. But I have to say that I like with the gi a little more than no gi!

The FightWorks Podcast: Can we expect to see you in action again on December 8th at the Long Beach Fall International Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship, fighting for a chance to compete for $5,000 in the first ever IBJJF Pro League later that evening?

Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: Yes! For sure! I am first waiting for the chance to maybe be qualified already in the Pro League because I am number 8 in the ranking, so if anyone before me can’t make it my spot will be moved up! But if all of the first six will be there, I will be at the Fall Open to try and get a spot to compete for the $5,000! I am really happy about this event and I think it will have a really good turn out! I will just train hard to be as prepared as possible because every fight will be a tough one!

Metamoris Pro: Ryron Gracie Discusses His Match Against Andre Galvao

Ryron Gracie jiu-jitsu
Ryron Gracie during a trip to instruct jiu-jitsu to US Army soldiers in Iraq in 2008.

Today is the press event in San Diego for tomorrow’s Metamoris Pro, where all the athletes will be able to address the media about their submission only matches tomorrow. We are not so patient sometimes so we caught up with Ryron Gracie in his car while he was on his way from Los Angeles to San Diego.

The FightWorks Podcast: We asked our audience which Metamoris Pro match they are most excited about in a poll. Your match against Andre Galvao nearly tied the excitement levels for the Roger Gracie vs. Buchecha match up. Your match was the favorite of 36% of the voters, and their match was the favorite of 40% of the voters. Why do you think that is?

Ryron Gracie: I think it’s because I haven’t competed that much. So they’re curious to see how I’ll do. And we have so many students, thousands of Gracie University students, who may have voted, so that’s probably involved.

The FightWorks Podcast: How did you prepare for your match against Andre?

Ryron Gracie: Lots of rolling! I didn’t do too many new things aside from a lot of jiu-jitsu. I also trained with Kron a lot. So that should sure help.

The FightWorks Podcast: Is rolling with Kron an opportunity you get very often? Or was that something you guys made happen specifically in preparation for this event?

Ryron Gracie: The opportunity is always there because he lives right around me. We were training months before [the announcement of Metamoris] not as regularly, but once we had this event booked we started training three times a week.

The FightWorks Podcast: What do you think made the promoters choose this match up between you and Andre? Why you? Why Andre? Why you and Andre? There’s a bunch of people they could have put in there but they chose you two.

Ryron Gracie: Most of the people they choose to fight me would pretty much be the same in that they’re all going to be super explosive, position savvy and not wanting to be on their back, because they’re world class BJJ competitors. And there’s me, who doesn’t really have a problem in any position. I might be stuck somewhere, but I’m pretty much safe in most positions from what I’ve experienced in my training with people around the world. I always say, “keep it playful”: let somebody side mount you! Having someone mounted on you is not as bad as some people make it out to be. When you watch most people compete in tournaments the top level guys fight to prevent dominant positions like side mount as if it’s the end of the world. They fight to prevent it because points will be put against them. Now even when there’s no points, they’re going to fight to prevent it because of their lack of comfort in those positions. So as for the question “why me and why Galvao?”, it’s just cool to have someone who’s so decorated against me, who really hasn’t done anything but I have been rolling for 25 years, you know?

The FightWorks Podcast: What match are you most excited about as a spectator?

Ryron Gracie: Xande Ribeiro versus Dean Lister. I know them both and I know they’re both extremely powerful. They’re just two guys who are going to go head first and butt heads. Compare that to my match, where I’m not going to be going so hard and it’s going to be about making it very clear that he can’t tap me – or trying to make it clear that he can’t tap me! – and taking every opportunity I can get. When it comes to Dean and Xande, it’s going to be two guys going forward 100%. I mean, everybody likes to see two trains collide, it’s fun.

Rafael Lovato Jr on His Metamoris Pro Match Against Kayron Gracie

Rafael Lovato Jr. in 2007
Rafael Lovato Jr. after winning a tournament in 2007

The FightWorks Podcast: How’s training going for your Metamoris Pro match against Kayron Gracie?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: I’ve done all my training here in Oklahoma City with my students. I’m fortunate to have been here a long time and have a lot of high level students with me. I have three black belts, a lot of browns, purples, and really good blues. Basically my preparation’s been a lot of conditioning. Thanks to my coach Luke Tyree he’s got me in incredible shape. On the mat I was doing a lot of rotation sparring where I’d have a fresh person come on me every five minutes. We’d do that for twenty minutes straight, take a one minute break, do another twenty minutes, take a two minute break. So I was going long, long rounds with fresh guys pushing me a lot physically and mentally. We’d start from different positions, and stuff like that because in a twenty minute match there’s room for a lot of stuff to happen, whereas in the 10 minute matches with advantages and stuff, hardly anything happens and I want to make sure I’m ready. I’ve had a lot of fun training for this event because I’m not worried about advantages, getting swept, making sure I’m scoring points and that sort of thing. I’m working on developing positions from my own game and focusing on the submission from any and every angle. I feel like it’s help me open up what I like to do, how I like to play, and even take that a step further and take advantage of that with some new positions I’ve been working.

The FightWorks Podcast: So this event will give you an opportunity to show off your own jiu-jitsu a little more?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: Yeah, one hundred percent. It’s not that you’re not seeing me when I’m out there in IBJJF but you gotta make sure you’re scoring in those events and that you’re not giving up points and advantages because the smallest thing can cost you with those rules, and guys are really good at playing within those rules. Losing an advantage in the first minute can cost you the whole match. With this I’m so excited to open my game up and not even have to think about a referee standing over me.

Rafael Lovato Jr. in 2007
Rafael Lovato Jr. on top of his opponent Rafael Lovato Jr. on top of Nivaldo de Oliveira Lima in 2009.

The FightWorks Podcast: What do you think made them choose Kayron Gracie as your opponent?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: We were suypposed to face each other earlier in the year at the Jiu-Jitsu Expo. We have similar builds; we’re both long and lanky. I think it’s a great style match up. He’s aggressive, he’s a submission hunter and so am I so it’ll be an exciting match up. I think it’s mostly because it’s a match that was supposed to happen and didn’t. We’ve never faced each other, and it’s a match the fans have been wanting to see.

The FightWorks Podcast: Is twenty minutes long enough for a submission only match? Should there be no time limits? Or is it too early to know that yet?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: It would seem like it’s better to go with no time limit instead of having a draw after 20 minutes. . . We’ll see what happens. Maybe 30 minutes would’ve been better but on the other hands you don’t want to watch a 30 minute boring match. I don’t think that’s going to happen in the 20 minute matches this weekend, I don’t think any of them are going to be boring but it’s something to think about. Maybe this is just a trial thing for [Metamoris] and they’ll adjust the rules in the next one.

The FightWorks Podcast: What match are you most excited about as a spectator to watch?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: Honestly, all of them, as every jiu-jitsu fan is, I’m sure. I told them to put me first, that I didn’t care, just so I can sit back and watch! I’m of course very excited to be competing alongside my longtime training partner and brother in battle Xande Ribeiro. Very excited that he got on the card. That’s going to be a sick match up against Dean [Lister]. But of course, the main event [between Roger Gracie and Buchecha] is going to be fireworks for sure.

The FightWorks Podcast: Any prediction for how your match will go down against Kayron?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: You know, it’s going to be interesting with these rules. It’s my first time with these rules, and his first time. Let’s see what happens. I live by the sword and die by the sword. There’s going to be a submission and I’m confident that it’s going to be my arm that will be raised at the end.

The FightWorks Podcast: Did you get a chance to see any of the International Masters and Seniors last weekend, and if so, any thoughts?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: I did not. I wish I could’ve. I had a purple belt become masters world champion. I had a couple students do very well, including one that won a couple medals at blue belt. I didn’t get a chance to watch the matches but I heard they were awesome. I was really proud of my instructors Saulo and Xande [Ribeiro] for putting on a show out there.

The FightWorks Podcast: Anything else, Rafael?

Rafael Lovato Jr.: I would like to urge all the fans to go to my site lovatojr.com and they’ll see a post about my countdown video and a contest. I’m hosting a contest for people to pick the winners at Metamoris. The top five predictors will win some awesome prizes including a free membership to my online coaching program ultimatepressurepassingsystem.com.

Want a blast from the past? Check out our interview from 2008 with Rafael Lovato Jr. on our youtube channel!

rafael lovato junior
Rafael Lovato Jr fending off the pass from the mighty Big Mac at the 2007 Mundials.

$5,000 Prizes from the IBJJF in its First Pro Event Scheduled for December 8

black belt training network bjj

It seems like Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners and fans around the world are finally getting our wish. The BJJ athletes we admire so much are getting legitimate opportunities to make money by competing for us! Not only is Metamoris Pro offering some dream matches for us in San Diego (and streamed online!) on October 14, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation has just announced their own event where invited competitors will be paid big prizes!

From the IBJJF announcement:

There will be four divisions and each one of the four divisions will have eight competitors. This first edition of the event is male black belt exclusively, Gi only, and will be webcasted for free over IBJJF TV (ibjjftv.com). The winner of each division will get a US $5,000 prize.

So a total of $20,000 are up for grabs in December, courtesy of the Federation. For several years fans and competitors have been asking if the IBJJF would compensate its athletes for their performance on IBJJF mats, so this is welcome news indeed!

It sounds like the IBJJF will choose athletes to invite based on a formula that is comprised of recent IBJJF competition performance. Certain events offer more “points” in the formula so we can predict that athletes will begin choosing which events they compete in very carefully to maximize their opportunity to earn these purses in the Pro event.

Questions that quickly come to mind:

  • Will this be something the IBJJF will offer moving forward? Should we expect an annual holiday gift of jiu-jitsu superfights every December?
  • The absence of monetary compensation has traditionally driven our athletes to compete in mixed martial arts. Will this stem the bleeding of our athletes into other sports?

All we can do now is speculate. We will of course attempt to learn more and when we do we’ll report back here. In the meantime, more information can be found on the ibjjf.com site.

BJJ Poll: Which Metamoris Pro Match Are You Most Excited About?

I was going to create a poll for us here at thefightworkspodcast.com asking who you thought might win a given match at the upcoming Metamoris event in San Diego but Metamoris has already begun gathering votes for the winner of each match on their own site! So another interesting angle is to ask you, the highly informed and Mighty 600,000 which of all the great matchups you are most looking forward to.

Couple updates to the event in case you hadn’t heard:

  • Dean Lister’s opponent has been changed from Kevin Casey to Xande Ribeiro.
  • The match between Nelson Monteiro and Jean Jacques Machado was removed because Monteiro was injured in a recent car accident and is not healthy enough to fight.
  • The price for the online live streaming of the event has finally been announced: $19.95.

At a Glance:

Submission-only event among Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s best with twenty minute time limits for matches.
Where:​Viejas Arena, SDSU
5500 Canyon Crest Dr,
San Diego,
Tickets from $35.00-$350.00