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Most Anticipated Early Matches At 2018 No-Gi Worlds
Just days before the 2018 IBJJF No-Gi World Championships, the brackets have been released and these are some of the most competitive and anticipated matches taking place early in the tournament. All these matches are happening in the first round, or are possible in the second round of a larger bracket.
Gordon Ryan vs. Mahamad Aly
We will see champion vs. champion action early! In Round 2 of the ultra-heavyweight division, provided Mahamad Aly and Gordon Ryan win in their opening fights, we will see 2018 IBJJF World Champion Mahamad Aly take on 2017 ADCC World Champion Gordon Ryan! This match is just a quarterfinal, so only one man will medal here. In fact, Ryan's bracket path may include Aly, Yuri Simoes, AND Cyborg! These two fighters met once before, with Gordon winning by heel hook in the ADCC absolute semifinals.
Satoshi Ishii vs. Tex Johnson
ANOTHER great early match in ultra-heavyweight is the round one match between two of the strongest and most durable athletes in the division. Satoshi Ishii is an Olympic judo gold medalist but questions exist around how he will do out of the gi. Still, you don't accomplish the incredible feats he has without world-class athleticism and toughness. Aaron "Tex" Johnson has been catching fire himself lately, as well. He won the IBJJF No-Gi Pan title and a few weeks later punched his ticket to the 2019 ADCC with a dominant trials performance. These two bulls are one of the best first round fights in the whole tournament, maybe the best.
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Patrick Gaudio vs. Luiz Panza
Super-heavyweight has some serious heavy hitters itself! Patrick Gaudio has found a tough draw, facing a game Charles McGuire first round and then drawing Luiz Panza immediately after. For the former world finalist, he will have to win both of those just to medal. Panza will have a bye before seeing the winner of Gaudio-McGuire, giving him a chance to rest and focus on his own path.
Arnaldo Maidana vs. Devhonte Johnson
Last year's World Champion Arnaldo Maidana won't get his second gold easily. Even though he enjoys a bye first round, in the second round he will face the winner of Devhonte "Bones" Johnson and Fernando Halfield. Bones is a world champion at brown and purple belt in the gi, and is still looking for his breakout at black belt. This match may be it.
Nick Calvanese vs. Gabriel Arges
IBJJF World Champion vs. EBI Champion is a real possibility here in the second round of the medium-heavyweight bracket. After a hard year, Arges wants to end it on a high note, and gold here would do that. Still, he has a tough draw in a difficult bracket and after Isiah Wright in the first round, he runs right into Nick Calvanese. Calvanese is a no-gi specialist who was just in the no-gi Pan finals, and has a great shot at knocking off former-world champ Arges.
Cole Franson vs. Marvin Castelle
For pure excitement and action, this could be the pick for best fight of the first round of ANY bracket! Cole Franson and Marvin Castelle have both built up reputations for being slick submission finishers, with a knack for pulling off fight ending locks in surprising positions. Before either man can make a run at featherweight, they must first get their hand raised here.
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