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The Science of Jiu-Jitsu: Worlds Preview

By Tyler Bishop | Columnist for Knuckle Junkies

Every year towards the end of May and beginning of June, the greatest grapplers on planet earth gather in Long Beach, California. This west coast city has become the home of the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World Championship. The IBJJF World Championship is the most prestigious Jiu Jitsu tournament in the world, and features thousands of adult competitors from around the world.

The event features blue through black belt adult-only divisions – with a special novice tournament for white belts the day before – and attracts some of the most well-known grapplers in the world as competitors and as spectators. Every year attendance and enrollment in the tournament increases, and so does the level of talent in every division. So who will be a black belt world champion this year, and what competitors should you keep your eye on?

First, if you haven’t looked at the competitor list yet check out the current list here (www.ibjjf.og). One of the great features of the IBJJF World Championship is the ability to see all competitors in each division. The brackets for each division are made available on the IBJJF website one week ahead of the tournament (so you will want to stay tuned to see some of the potential match-ups). This year is no exception to years past, the 2012 champions will all be in attendance to defend their crowns. So who will rise to the top?

We will start our evaluation by weight class:

The rooster weight division will likely result in another classic showdown between Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra. Malfacine is the reigning champion, but Terra recently bested him at the 2013 Pan-Am’s. Prediction: Terra

The light-feather weight class has been recently dominated by one man, Guilherme Mendes. I expect that trend to continue as there appears to be no further interesting challenges for him at this weight class this year. He has beaten all of the relative contenders currently signed up.Prediction: G. Mendes

The feather weight division is one of the most talented in recent history – which makes the reigning 3x champion all the more impressive. Rafael Mendes has remained unbeaten for over 2 years in an extremely difficult division. And while “Cobrinha” Charles and Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes always seem to push Mendes to the limit, it seems that the current champion always finds a way to reign supreme. Prediction: R. Mendes

The light weight division is always filled with talent. Some of the best in the world find their way into this division each year, but the battle seems to always come down to two men. Lucas Lepri and Leandro Lo will likely battle for supremacy once again this year; however, a contender such as JT Torres or Roberto Satoshi could certainly find a way to upset one of these two. Prediction: Lo

The middleweight division is filled with powerful athletes. Some of the quickest and most athletic men from around the world find themselves in the 181.5lb division. The lineup includes notable competitors such as Claudio Calassans, DJ Jackson, Kron Gracie, and Kayron Gracie. Will the son of Rickson Gracie finally claim his thrown, or will the reigning champion, Calassans, rain on that parade? Prediction: Calassans

The light-heavy weight class features several of the most dominant competitors in recent history. With notable competitors such Andre Galvao, Romulo Barral, and Rafael Lovato Jr. all recently competing in this division, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will take home the medal this year.Prediction: Lovato Jr.

The heavy weight class can almost be skipped. One man reigns supreme in the heavy weight division.
Prediction: Rodolfo Vieira

The super-heavy weight class is usually dominated by teammates from Alliance, Bernardo Faria and Leo Nogueira. However, someone like Yuri Simoes could have something to say about that this year.Prediction: Yuri Simoes

The ultra-heavy weight division is much like the heavy weight division. One man stands miles above the rest. Prediction: Marcus “Buchecha” Almaeda

The absolute division is an inevitable clash. The world will again see the epic match between Marcus Almaeda and Rodolfo Vieira. It has been hailed in the past as the greatest match in history (although this is a little overdone). Expect the bracket-makers to line them up on opposite sides of the bracket as they tear through the competition to reach each other in the finals. Prediction: Marcus “Buchecha” Almaeda

Excited about competition? Join MidwestGrappler on June 29th in Cape Girardeau, MO for one of the Midwest’s largest grappling tournaments.

For more information visit

Tyler Bishop runs, a website devoted solely to the science of jiu jitsu. He is also an assistant jiu jitsu instructor at Gracie Humaita St. Louis. As a competitor he is a 6x State jiu jitsu champion, 8x NAGA champion, and former amateur MMA champion among many other accomplishments.