Fighters To Watch At 2018 IBJJF No Gi Worlds: Ultra-Heavyweight
With IBJJF No-Gi Worlds in one week, let's take a second and look at some of the most high profile competitors who will be trying to become a no-gi champion.
The king is back, as Gordon Ryan looks to win his first black belt IBJJF world championship. After winning the no-gi Pan title, he's proven his effectiveness in the IBJJF ruleset, but this bracket looks to be appreciably tougher. Still, this is the same fighter who went through a "bracket of death" ADCC 88-kilo division for gold, so bet against him only when you have money to waste. There's been plenty of talk between him and Cyborg, so we'll see if that fight materializes in the bracket.
One of the ADCC champions in this bracket (which just speaks to the depth of the field), Cyborg is a BJJ legend who is reentering IBJJF competition for this tournament. Not only does he want to stay active and add another world championship to his ledger, he's had a few choice words for some of his competitors' respect. Abreu is an intimidating figure in BJJ, with the stamina and agility of a much smaller man.
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ANOTHER ADCC Champion in this bracket, and Yuri has won that tournament twice. He's one of the best no-gi grapplers on the planet, and anyone hoping to beat him will have to really work. Two years ago, Yuri won his weight and the absolute at no-gi worlds. Can he recapture that magic?
Max Gimenis has really come on strong lately, picking up really big wins over Tanner Rice, Kaynan Duarte, and Mahamed Aly. With a strong competition background and a new level in his game, Gimenis can go far in a tournament like this.
A former ADCC silver medalist with a solid wrestling style that makes him hard to move and destabilize, Jared Dopp is a tough force for anyone. The Lovato black belt is a lot more adept in no-gi, and has wins over guys like Eliot Kelly, Vinny Magalhaes, and Leo Nogueira.
Satoshi Ishii is a major darkhorse coming into this tournament. He is primarily a judoka (6th dan) and is uber-elite in that sport with a 2008 Olympic Championship to his credit. Ishii dabbles in submission grappling as well, and even without the gi he is so skilled that even great takedown fighters get thrown. If he can throw effectively and stay smart on top, Ishii may be a bracket buster.
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Aly had a real breakthrough year, especially after beating Nicolas Meregali and Leandro Lo to win his first world championship as a black belt. The TLI fighter has always been a challenge, but now he has improved his game and tightened up his defense which makes fighting him a daunting prospect.
Tex Johnson is another darkhorse in a very impressive bracket. The Unity black belt just won No-Gi Pan Ams and ADCC Trials, so he clearly has been focusing heavily on his no-gi game. It's paid off, he's quick to his leg attacks and brings a passion to his grappling that can make opponent's wilt.