The numbers from the unprecedented coverage for a historic Worlds

Another Jiu-Jitsu World Championship has entered the history books.

Rodolfo Vieira was crowned the new king of the absolute black belt division, the ninth since 1996.

Besides the big winner, numerous other champions left the Long Beach pyramid smiling.

And it wasn’t just the wins that made the 2011 Worlds what it was. The four-day contest in California was stage to drama, controversy, dogged determination, emotion, and technical proficiency.

And you kept up with it all here on the GRACIEMAG at the Worlds Blog.

The coverage kicked off on May 16 with an exclusive interview with three-time absolute world champion Roger Gracie.

In that conversation, the Gracie let on that an injury could keep him out of this year’s event.

And it was also here on the Worlds Blog that you read first hand that Roger would be a no-show, as would Xande Ribeiro and Bráulio Estima.

Besides Roger Gracie, the Worlds Blog treated its readers to another 12 exclusive interviews in the days leading up to the 2011 Worlds.

We spoke with Rodolfo Vieira, Gabi Garcia, Caio Terra, Rômulo Barral, Marcelo Garcia, Rafael Mendes and others.

In these conversations, punch-packing statements arose.

“I want to win another ten Worlds,” said Roger.

“I don’t lose any sleep over Roger,” said Rodolfo.

“I don’t change my game for anybody,” said Marcelo Garcia.

Besides the interviews, we looked back on great moments from Worlds past with never-before-released quotes from the champions of yesteryear.

Ronaldo Jacaré, Royler Gracie, Xande and Saulo, Pé de Pano, Fabio Gurgel, Robson Moura, Victor Ribeiro and others recollected the glory that unfolded in their lives since 1996.

To further spice up the coverage, again we placed our bets on the semifinalists, finalists and champions of the black belt division – a post that always stirs up controversy and this time paid out with a few fingers in the eye of the editor on Sunday, when the winners took to the podium.

And when the hour of truth came in Long Beach, the Worlds Blog toiled laboriously to bring first-hand news to our readers.

Starting on competition Thursday, we featured all the belts, telling stories of the athletes from white up.

On the Worlds Blog you read the inspiring tale of Tyler Brey, a wheel chair-bound blue belt with much to teach.

You also bore witness to the trajectory of Cris Cyborg, a female MMA star who decided to put herself to the test in the gi and nabbed gold at purple belt.

And there’s no forgetting the 30 athletes from Mongolia who traveled halfway around the world to compete from white belt to brown belt.

While it’s impossible to keep up with every division at a Worlds with 2,300 athletes on the roster, the Worlds Blog did all that it could to keep its readers informed.

We broke the news that the IBJJF would be posting on its website the results from each division as each bracket came to a close.

It was here that you found out first hand what the absolute black belt brackets looked like, on Saturday.

And when the open weight division kicked off, the Worlds Blog took to Twitter to announce how each of the brackets was progressing and the match results.

And here we asked readers’ forgiveness for the technical issue that put the brakes on providing the same service on Sunday, at least during the opening rounds of the black belt weight groups.

We were back at full steam for the finals.

On Monday, as readers awoke, the Worlds Blog had already posted a complete breakdown of all the men’s black belt and women’s brown/black belt divisions.

In all there were 51 posts, 30 just during the four days of the championship. The Blog produced three exclusive videos and one photo gallery per day during the coverage.

A production of such scale was made possible by the efforts of photographer Dan Rod, reporter Deb Blyth, and editor Ivan Trindade. The English version of the Blog was taken care of by translator John Tabor III (me).

The compensation for so much work was the public response.

Since May 16, the blog recorded 47,083 visits (to the English version alone), a daily average of 2,140 visits.

The Worlds Blog and GRACIEMAG.com team thanks all the readers and promises to work even harder to make the coverage even better next time around!

We’ll see you at the 2012 Worlds!

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Monday’s headlines: “RODOLFO IS THE CHAMP!”

When you read this, everything that transpired on Sunday at the 2011 Jiu-Jitsu World Championship will no longer be news.

You know who won, may have even watched live over the internet.

Well, just as the Monday newspaper does, the Worlds Blog brings you more.

The details, drama, joy, heartbreak, utterances, controversy… the bigger picture.

And to start…

Rodolfo superstar

The life of 21-year-old Carioca Rodolfo Vieira changed drastically a little after 7 pm on Sunday, California time. That was the moment he was crowned Jiu-Jitsu absolute world champion, an honor so far reserved for just eight other men throughout the championship’s 16-year history.

The 9 to 0 score over Bernardo Faria stuck an exclamation point at the end of the sentence the Jiu-Jitsu world has been repeating for some time: Rodolfo Vieira is the best Jiu-Jitsu competitor of the year! He was unmatched in Long Beach. Bringing on plenty of pressure, a good standing game bolstered by takedowns and an almost endless gas tank, Rodolfo submitted Claudio Calasans, Sérgio Moraes, Marcus Bochecha and Rafael Lovato Jr. Over his two encounters with Bernardo Faria on the day, he outscored his rival by 12 to 0. The title was well deserved and recognized even by his opponents, like Sérgio Moraes, for example: “We’re always gunning for whoever is at the top and the one at the top today is Rodolfo. He came on way strong,” he remarked.

Rodolfo himself, however, still seemed incredulous that his life had changed. “I still can’t believe it! It’s a dream what I’m going through!” he said with a broad grin. Besides disbelief, his winning the absolute division stirred up memories of his recent past. “When I showed up and beat some black belts in 2009, they criticized me saying my game was sneaky, that I was fooling the referee into thinking I was doing something when on top but was really stalling,” he said. He felt hurt by the criticism, and his reponse came two years thereafter: “I always knew I had an attacking Jiu-Jitsu game. I really enjoy letting the game flow in the gym and that’s what I do at championships too.” Rodolfo addressed the underlying reasons for the superiority he demonstrated in Long Beach: “I don’t have an ego when I train. I let my game go and I’m evolving. The funny thing is that I usually train on bottom, but at championships I end up playing from top position more and still do well.”

To incite a response, the pesky reporter brought up Roger Gracie, the opponent everyone was hoping would be at the other end of the mat to see how Rodolfo would do. The young man didn’t lose his cool: “To me he’s still number one.” ADCC 2011 could turn out to be the occasion for this first encounter.

But, for the time being, it’s time to celebrate and get used to his new life. From here on out Rodolfo will have some privileges, with a special spot on tournament brackets. There will also be demands and challenges. He’ll take more photos with the fans, hand out more autographs, be invited to teach seminars the world over. By the same token, his game will receive a lot more scrutiny. He’ll become everybody’s target of choice.

If he handles his new life the way he’s been handling his opponents’ guard, he’s got everything it takes to be successful.

Gabrielle versus (almost) everybody

This time around she didn’t have her buddy Luanna Alzuguir backing her up. The Alliance lightweight sat out the absolute due to a cracked rib. So Gabrielle tore into the absolute contest on her own. Well… almost on her own. She had the whole Alliance cheering section on her side.

The problem is that the rest of the crowd in the Long Beach pyramid was rooting for the opposition. Gabrielle is used to it, though, it’s always been that way. Being big in female Jiu-Jitsu is an advantage with a lot of drawbacks. The crowd in Long Beach chanted: “The art is gentle!” Alluding to the accusation that Gabi only wins because of her size. “Let them talk! Only I know how much I train and how much I deserve to be where I am,” Gabi spat back, already with her absolute and heavyweight gold medals dangling from her neck.

And she speaks the truth; Gabi’s been a lot calmer lately. She no longer shakes her fists at the crowd after winning. At the 2011 Worlds, only in the open weight final (pictured) did she let her nerves hamper her performance. With the entire gymnasium breathing down her neck, the Alliance black belt scored 2 to 0 over lightweight Beatriz Mesquita, who put on quite a show of defense against a nervous Gabi.

After stepping down from the podium, much calmer and her smile in harmony with her pink-colored fingernails, the two-time world champion performed some self-analysis: “I’m not invincible, far from it, but I train to improve!”

Marcelinho’s motivation

When in action Marcelo Garcia tends to be explosive; when the Minas Gerais native speaks he exudes serenity. “Every year I feel a great desire to compete, but it gets harder every year, with more injuries, more commitments,” he replies, when queried as to how much longer he’ll keep at it.

In Marcelinho’s response lies what motivated the question. When you consider how the last opponent to beat the black belt was Fernando Tererê, way back in 2003, it only makes you wonder why he continues testing himself. This Sunday Marcelo began the trek to his fifth gold medal in seven years by scoring 3-0 over Victor Estima. He followed up by latching onto Guto Campos’s neck and scoring 2-0 over Lucas Leite in the final.

The other half of the question is: for how much longer will we be seeing Marcelo Garcia competing at the highest level? “For as long as I can show pretty and attacking Jiu-Jitsu. I’ll stop when I no longer manage to perform the positions I always did.”

Durinho’s destiny

Even Gilbert Burns himself confesses that on previous years he arrived in Long Beach in better position to take the title. “In 2009 and 2010 I was on a roll from previous results but ended up losing,” he recalls.

In 2011 Durinho watched the finals at the European Open, the Pan and the World Pro from the sidelines. What’s more, Kron Gracie squeezed on his neck in Italy, two weeks prior to the Worlds. “God has a purpose in life for everyone. I trained a lot for the Worlds and the match against Kron; I protected my neck well,” said Durinho about the fortune that smiled on him in Long Beach.

Starting with the quarterfinals at the Worlds, he didn’t have it easy. Durinho edged out Lucas Lepri on advantage points and outpointed Jonathan Torres by 4 to 0. In the final, against Kron Gracie, he passed guard and swept on three occasions, racking up the 9 points to 2 that catapulted him to a new career benchmark: that of world champion. Has anything changed now? “Nothing, it just motivates me to train even more,” he said.

Still on the lightweight division, you can’t not address Celso Venícius, Michael Langhi and Kron, three of the stars responsible for the weight group being considered the toughest of the 2011 Worlds. Langhi lost the semifinal to Kron by judges’ decision. The two-time champion of the event spoke of the setback: “I’m upset about the result, but I’m satisfied with how I trained for this Worlds.”

Celso was outdone by JT in the final seconds. A sweep unseated him from contention for a fourth title. In attempting to remedy the disadvantage the three-time world champion demonstrated bravery and strength. He came up short, but the effort drew well-deserved applause from the gymnasium.

Kron, the runner-up, showed his usual courage and determination to finish. Competing in the new division to him after falling victim to a virus that cost him a lot of weight, Kron is pondering staying at lightweight: “I was happy with my performance. At middleweight I felt the weight difference between me and my opponents but at lightweight I feel fine.”

Malfa four times over

Competing at light featherweight at the European Open and the Pan, Bruno Malfacine had to settle for two silver medals, losing to Ary Farias and Caio Terra. He returned to the top at the Brazilian Nationals, but the big test would come in Long Beach, at the World Championship.

“I can’t say I’ve been having a bad year, since I made it to the final at all the big championships. My game changes a lot between rooster and light featherweight. I’m more comfortable at roosterweight,” said Bruno in assessment.

At the Worlds, he finished Brandon Mullins, drubbed Josef Manuel by a score of 10 to 0, and went through to the final to face Caio Terra again – the third time in three years and the third time he wins it. Even so, his recent loss to Caio at the Pan prompted the Alliance rep to tread carefully: “I studied his game more so I could make it to positions without running any risk.”

Now four-time champion of the world, Malfa remained modest. Are you or aren’t you the greatest roosterweight of all times? “I’m not the judge of that, but the results are there.”

Gui Mendes’s diet

Last year Guilherme Mendes lost his very first match at light featherweight. However worthy his slayer, Paulo Melo, the main villain behind his setback was the scale. “To fight at light featherweight I have to shed seven kilos. In 2010, on the day before I was 4 kg over,” he recollects.

This year everything was different. Free of the injury that caused him to have to lose weight at the last minute, Gui Mendes did everything just right and with professional accompaniment. “I consulted a nutritionist. I lost nearly two kilos a week at the right pace. When championship time came I was at just the right weight,” he recounts.

The proper planning reflected on the mat. “I had four matches and got the finish in three of them,” Gui runs the numbers, after finishing Laercio Fernandes, outscoring Samuel Braga by 4 to 2, and closing out the final with Ary Farias, who made it to the decided with a 5-0 advantage point lead over Pablo Silva and a 3-0 score over Samir Chantre.

Sérgio’s life and Rômulo’s farewell

The injury that kept Tarsis Humphreys from defending his medium heavyweight title was an opportunity for Sergio Morais to conquer his second world championship title. The São Paulo native from Alliance moved up in weight to accomplish his mission: “It was Fabio Gurgel’s strategy,” reveals Sérgio.

The strategy proved to be the right one. Morais scored 4-0 over Eduardo Zanetti in the quarterfinals and then went straight through to the final, since he was crossed with Alliance teammate Rogel Monsalve in the semifinal.

The decider against two-time champion of the division Rômulo Barral was evenly matched and the outcome was determined by a takedown Sérgio successfully applied towards the end. With his title secured, Morais gushed: “This is my life!” Later, a bit calmer, he added: “We put in 100% and want to get 200%”

Rômulo didn’t make it to the gold, but he touched everyone by announcing his retirement from competition. The Minas Gerais native left his gi on the mat to applause from the crowd in the pyramid. He’ll be missed.

Rafael Mendes’s new strategy

The controversy he was embroiled in last month in Abu Dhabi made its mark on Rafael Mendes. The judges’ decision favoring Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes led to Rafael making a simple but effective decision: “I started training to get the finish in every match and I’ll never leave the decision in the hands of others,” revealed the now two-time featherweight world champion.

In Long Beach, Rafael didn’t manage to get the finish in all his matches, but he did show his well-known offense, now melded with a good dose of strategy. He finished Leonardo Sagioro in the quarterfinals and scored 4-2 over Mario Reis. The final would see him rematch Tanquinho, who had taken out Cobrinha.

“Tanquinho is great at escaping from positions. He’s really good at breaking grips,” said Rafael in assessment, further revealing that the rivalry that arose between the two had been resolved somewhere unexpected: “We met in the restroom before the match and agreed that there was no reason for us to be badmouthing each other. That just denigrates our image,” he recounted.

Once again the decider was an evenly-matched affair, but Rafa kept his promise and nabbed his second world title after a sweep swap from 50/50 guard had his ahead by one advantage point.

The new photo on the mural

When he saw the Worlds Blog reporter approaching for an interview, Léo Nogueira preempted him “I ruined your prediction!” referring to a post from last Wednesday where I bet on who the winners of each division would be. I’d bet on Marcus Vinícius “Bochecha” to take the super heavyweight division. I was wrong.

While joking about the blog post, Leo was dead seriously about the main reason behind his conquest: “I train six hours a day and that’s having its effect. I could have fought in the absolute but Fabio decided to go with two world champions from the team,” he revealed. Next year Leo will be able to fight on even terms for a berth in the open weight class.

The referee decision following the 3-3 draw with Bochecha will make it so the leader of Alliance will have to make another change to the recently-inaugurated headquarters in São Paulo. An almost life-sized photo of Leonardo will adorn the wall of the main mat area, adding to the other world champions on the team. “It will be great,” said Léo, smiling about the news.

The stranger in the nest

On Saturday Antônio Braga Neto lost the third match in his march towards the absolute final. He was subbed by Bochecha. On Facebook he wrote: “Now I’m focused on my weight group, tomorrow!”

Promise fulfilled and with safe performances, Braga caught Michael Wilson by the foot, scored 9-0 over Roberto Cyborg, and 7-0 on Rodrigo Cavaca in the decider. The two-time world championship win was more than enough to strike Saturday’s setback in the absolute from his memory. And it was all the more special for being a conquest by a “little guy” in the heaviest division in sport Jiu-Jitsu.

More excitement in the female division

Leticia Ribeiro crowned six-time champion!

Michele Nicolini took gold at featherweight after a controversial match against Kyra Gracie.

Luanna Alzuguir overcame a broken rib to finish Luiza Monteiro by the neck.

Hannette Staack landed the sightliest sub of the Worlds and notched her seventh world title with a picture-perfect flying armbar on Ida Hanson.

Talita Nogueira tapped Penny Thomas and got her black belt to boot.

Gabi Garcia tapped out Emily Watson.

Team results:

Adult:

1 – Alliance – 127

2 – Check Mat – 59

3 – Atos JJ – 44

Female:

1 – Alliance – 43

2 – Gracie Humaitá – 31

3 – Lloyd Irvin – 21

You dig this issue? There’ll be more in 2012!

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Absolute results: Rodolfo Vieira and Gabi Garcia both win world heavyweight and absolute titles

Gabrielle Garcia is the first absolute champ of the day, overcoming Bia Mesquita by 2-0, coming close to finishing early on with a clock choke. With two gold medals, Gabrielle is the big name of the female division.

Rodolfo Vieira got the takedown, passed guard and mounted Bernardo Faria. With a score of 9-0, Vieira is the big winner in the men’s division.

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Men’s final results

The men’s division now has its champions. Check out who the current world champions are:

Heavyweight
Rodolfo Vieira beat Bernardo Faria by a guard pass, in the first of two encounters between the two on the day.

Roosterweight
Bruno Malfacine outpointed Caio Terra by 4-2, making Malfa four-time world champion.

Light Featherweight
Guilherme Mendes and Ary Farias closed out for Atos

Featherweight
Rafael Mendes and Augusto Tanquinho draw at 4-4 after exchange of sweeps, but Mendes leads by 2 advantage points to 1. It is the first time brothers Rafael and Guilherme are champions together at the same Worlds.

Lightweight
Gilbert Durinho outpoints Kron Gracie by 9-2. Kron took the lead with a sweep but Durinho swept back and followed up with a guard pass and then another sweep.

Middleweight
Marcelo Garcia scored two points early on against  Lucas Leite. That was enough to secure Garcia his fifth world title. He ironically thanked Steven Seagal for helping him win.

Medium Heavyweight
Sérgio Moraes beat Rômulo Barral by 4 to 2. Both were awarded penalties. Moraes landed a takedown.

Super Heavyweight
Léo Nogueira edges Marcus Bochecha after 2-2 draw on points and draw on advantage points. Léo wins his first world title.

Ultraheavyweight
Antonio Braga Neto defeats Rodrigo Cavaca by a score of 7 to 0.

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Female finals results

Check out how the finals of the female division of the World Championship played out:

Light featherweight
Letícia Ribeiro outpointed Nyjah Easton by 3 to 2 in an emotional match. Leticia is now six-time world champion!

Featherweight
In a controversial match, Michelle Nicoline defeated Kyra Gracie 3-1 on advantage points following a 4-4 draw.

Lightweight
Luanna Alzuguir made quick work of Luiza Monteiro with a choke from back mount.

Middleweight
Hannette Staack submitted Ida Josefin with the most beautiful finish of the finals so far: a flying armbar!

Medium heavyweight
In an uneventful affair, Talita Treta outpointed Penny Thomas 4-0 to take gold.

Heavyweight
Gabi Garcia chased down Emily Wetzel and quickly finished with a choke.

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Alexander Trans wins absolute brown belt

Alexandre Trans is the big winner of the big division.

He defeated José Carlos Souza by2 to 0 in the final.

With the result, Trans has consolidated his lock down of the brown belt division.

 

Trans in the semifinals

In 2011, he won weight and open weight at the European Open, Pan and Worlds and weight at the Brazilian Nationals. He only didn’t win the absolute in Rio because he didn’t compete.

In Long Beach, Trans had nine matches, five of them in his weight division and four in the absolute.

Is there anything left for him to conquer as a brown belt?

“I still make a lot of mistakes and it doesn’t depend on me, it’s up to my teachers,” replied the serene Alexander.

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Black belt matchups set for Sunday

The quarterfinals of the lighter weight divisions have taken form at the 2011 Worlds.

They are:

Roosterweight
Bruno Malfacine vs. Brandon Mullins
Josef Manuel vs. Joseph Capizzi
João Carlos Kuraoka vs. Yusuke Honma
Caio Terra vs. Fábio Passos

Light Featherweight

Guilherme Mendes vs. Laercio Fernandes
Samuel Braga vs. Carlos Vieira Holanda
Samir Chantre vs. Gabriel dos Santos
Pablo da Silva vs. Ary Farias

Featherweight
Rubens Charles Cobrinha vs. Eduardo Ramos da Silva
Bruno Frazatto vs. Augusto Tanquinho Mendes
Rafael Mendes vs. Leonardo Saggioro
Mario Reis vs. Marcelino de Freitas

Lightweight
Michael Langhi vs. Davi Ramos
Leandro Lo vs. Kron Gracie
Lucas Lepri vs. Gilbert Durinho
Celso Venícius vs. Jonathan Torres

Middleweight
Marcelo Garcia vs. Victor Estima
Gustavo Campos vs. Daniel Dias
Clark Gracie vs. Gabriel Rollo
Lucas Leite vs. Vinícius Corrales

Medium Heavyweight
Rômulo Barral vs. Eduardo Telles
Eduardo Santoro vs. Fabiano Junior
Sergio Moraes vs. Eduardo Zanetti
Gustavo Junqueira vs. Rogel Monsalve

Heavyweight
Luke Steward vs. Bernardo Faria
Roberto Alencar vs. Antonio Carlos Barbosa
Guybson Sá vs. Rodolfo Vieira
Renan Vital vs. Rafal Lovato

In the female division the following are the finals for each weight category:

Light Featherweight
Leticia Ribeiro vs. Nyjah Easton

Featherweight
Kyra Gracie vs. Michelle Nicolini

Lightweight
Luana Alzuguir vs. Beatriz Mesquita

Middleweight
Ida Hansson vs. Hannette Staack

Medium Heavyweight
Penny Thomas vs. Talita Nogueira

Heavyweight
Gabrielle Garcia vs. Emily Wetzel

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Seconds from the final

In another exclusive video, the GRACIEMAG at the Worlds Blog shows the final 20 seconds of the two absolute black belt semifinals.

Watch the emotion experienced by Rodolfo Vieira and Bernardo Faria when their berths in the final became reality.

Stay tuned to the best and most complete coverage of the 2011 Worlds.

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A brown belt atop absolute purple podium

What a difference a year can make.

In 2010 Felipe Pena, a fledgling purple belt didn’t make it onto a podium at the Worlds.

In 2011 the tune he was listening to as he made his approach was metal on metal.

With two gold medals dangling from his neck, the Minas Gerais native didn’t make the slightest attempt to disguise his joy.

A student of Draculino and Rômulo Barral, the 19-year-old had ten matches at the 2011 Worlds and submitted seven of his opponents.

In the absolute he overcame Marcus Sosa, the same one he faced in the medium heavyweight decider.

What made the difference? “Mat time,” replied Felipe.

The two golds also marked a farewell for Pena.

Asked whether he would come back as a brown belt, “I don’t know,” was his response.

Draculino and Barral cleared up any doubts by fastening a brand new brown belt around his waist.

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Interview: Rodolfo Vieira and absolute campaign

Just after securing his spot in the open weight final against Bernardo Faria, Rodolfo Vieira spoke with the Worlds Blog.

The Rio de Janeiro native addressed the feeling of making it to the final and having the most important title in Jiu-Jitsu within grasp, addressed Bernardo Faria, and remembered his campaign leading up to the decider.

Check out what Rodolfo Vieira has to say:

Next to be interviewed, Bernardo Faria.

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