Who's Number 1 Event Shakes Up the Black Belt Gi Rankings
The Veterans vs the Up and Comers
Keenan Cornelius and Nicholas Meregali are largely considered top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors in the gi. Both titans of the sport were fallen Saturday night in the inaugural event for Who’s Number 1, as Cornelius was defeated by Roberto Jimenez by a score of 6-4 while Meregali lost to Victor Hugo 2-0.
Cornelius and Meregali have been destined for a rematch since last meeting at the 2019 IBJJF World Championships. Keenan won the match, but injury would keep him out of the absolute bracket leaving us to wonder what the rematch would look like. With both athletes competing in the main and co-main event of Saturday night’s event, the chances of a rematch occurring on the superfight scene would’ve enticed a lot of viewers had both men won their respective matches. However, Roberto Jimenez and Victor Hugo had plans that night to play spoiler.
Black Belt Heavyweight - Roberto Jimenez defeats Keenan Cornelius 6-4
The ascension of Roberto Jimenez took a monumental leap at Who’s #1 in Costa Mesa, California. After capturing world titles over the last few years at purple belt in 2018 and brown belt in 2019, the newly minted Black Belt almost seemed to be taking on more than he can chew, drawing Keenan Cornelius as his first black belt super fight.
But the rookie Alliance Black Belt rose to the occasion against the seasoned vet and founder of Legion American Jiu-Jitsu.
In the opening seconds of the match, Jimenez pulled guard and less than a minute later swept Keenan to get on the scoreboard. At which point, Cornelius began trying to tie up Jimenez in his lapel game. He was successful to an extent, as he ended up sweeping Jimenez to get those points back and tie the score at 2. But largely throughout the match, Jimenez was able to fight off Keenan’s offense and enforce his game plan of solid wrestling and continued attacks with the berimbolo.
Jimenez reclaimed the lead in points when he shot a double and took Keenan down at the 7:30 mark of the 10 minute superfight, only to surrender his lead back to Cornelius after Keenan entrapped the rookie with his own lapel. At the 4:51 mark, Jimenez broke the tie one more time with another hard fought sweep from the continuous berimbolo attacks being levied against Keenan.
This sweep would be the go-ahead score as Jimenez was able to shut down Keenan’s offense from that point on. Jimenez shocked the world, he was able to scale Mount Everest on his first rock climb. The 19-year-old new black belt just defeated one of the most masterful gi grapplers in the world.
Black Belt Ultra Heavyweight - Victor Hugo defeats Nicholas Meregali 2-0
The main event did not offer the same level of fire works as the previous match, but still featured a dramatic upset featuring one of the world’s best in Meregali, versus the much lesser known, but rising black belt star Victor Hugo. Meregali, a defending two-time IBJJF world champion, was somewhat shut down by the Ribeiro black belt Victor Hugo in this superfight matchup.
This match came down to more of what did not happen then what did. The two were trapped in a battle from the 50/50 position. Hugo came up to score a sweep and would ride the wave of that to win the main event of the evening, in a stunning match. The remaining time of this match included both competitors trying to get the best of one another as the ultra-heavyweights battled for 10 minutes. Outside of Hugo’s sweep, the match would remain scoreless.
Victor Hugo defeated Nicholas Meregali. 2-0.