2023’s Jiu-Jitsu Con weekend was reportedly the biggest jiu-jitsu event in IBJJF history, as over 10,000 athletes – including 2000 black belt competitors – flocked to Las Vegas for Masters Worlds, JJCon, and the IBJJF Absolute Grand Prix from August 31 through September 2.
Arguably the highest-profile victory of the weekend arrived at the hands of Nicholas Meregali, who defeated rival Victor Hugo to claim a whopping $40,000 in prize money – one of the larger purses available in gi competition. Hugo and Meregali faced off in the finals round of an eight-man open weight bracket.
Before the long-anticipated showdown between these two, however, both delivered spectacular submission victories over the other contenders – including a smother tap by Meregali against Francisco Lo in the opening rounds that immediately went viral online.
The finals match between Hugo and Meregali, on the other hand, went the distance and came down to points. Ultimately, a sweep scored by Meregali against Hugo decided the victor – and recipient of 40 grand – on a slim margin of two points.
Hugo and Meregali weren’t the only big names to feature on the IBJJF’s biggest stage. The same card featured star-studded superfights that included impressive performances by the likes of Tainan Dalpra, who defeated Yan “Pica Pau” Paiva by triangle armbar, and Janaina Lebre, who finished Emily Fernandez with an ezekiel choke.
Meanwhile, in Jiu-Jitsu Con’s under-30 divisions, we saw standout performances from several up-and-comers. Notably, teen phenom Helena Crevar of John Danaher’s New Wave team entered four divisions – the blue belt gi juvenile division at weight and open class, and the blue belt no-gi juvenile division and open class – to claim quadruple gold. Crevar won a total of eleven matches, ten by submission, with zero points scored against her.
Masters Worlds also saw more than its fair share of highlight reel worthy action, thanks in part to the presence of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, popularly considered the flyweight GOAT of MMA. The UFC and ONE Championship star tried his luck in the brown belt featherweight division at Masters 2 – and, to no one’s surprise, utterly dominated the more than 30-man bracket to claim his first ever IBJJF world title.