A Closer Look At ADCC’s -99kg Division

ADCC 2022 is here, and they’ve stacked every weight class to the brim, with the -99kg division being no exception.

The division’s 2019 champion, Gordon Ryan, has moved up to the +99kg division, leaving the title open for grabs. However, Kaynan Duarte, the returning +99kg champ, has moved down to -99kg, and has already defeated a large number of names on the roster.

However, after this years Trials, there are a few names who are sure to shake up the division. Not to mention, invitees such as Nicholas Meregali make for a very interesting job for the bracket makers.

Kaynan Duarte, Brazil



  • 1st Place, 2019 ADCC Champion (+99kg) 
  • 1st Place, 2017 ADCC Rio De Janeiro Trials
  • 1st Place, 2021 IBJJF World Championship
  • 1st Place, 2020 IBJJF Pans Championship No-Gi, weight and absolute

Returning to ADCC as the +99kg Champion, Duarte is dropping to -99kg, and comes in as a favorite to take it all home. A black Belt under André Galvāo and a top-tier member of ATOS jiu-jitsu, his most recent competition was at Subversiv 7 and defeated all 3 opponents by decision, including fellow ADCC -99er, Vinicius Trator.

Duarte has previously lost to Nicholas Meregali in the gi during the semifinal round of the 2021 IBJJF World Championships Absolute division, but defeated him in the Final round of the 2019 Spyder Invitational just 2 years earlier.

He has also defeated divisional opponents Kyle Boehm, Craig Jones and Yuri Simoes, plus many of the sports most elite, such as Fellipe Andrew, Matheius Diniz, Mason Fowler, Rodolfo Vieira, Tex Johnson, Rodolfo Vieira, Leandro Lo, Nick Rodriguez. Marcus Almeida, Pedro Marinho, Tim Spriggs, and more.

Rafael Lovato Jr, USA


  • 1st Place, IBJJF World Championship (2007)
  • 1st Place, IBJJF World Championship NoGi (2010)
  • Former Bellator Middleweight Champion

Lovato comes in as the oldest in the division at 39 years old, but also the most seasoned and experienced, having competed at the professional level for nearly two decades now. A black Belt under Carlos Machado. Recently competed against Nicholas Meregali at WNO and lost by decision at 93kg.

Has been especially active in competitive grappling since retiring from MMA in 2019, but he’s been competing against the sports most elite since at least 2005.

His most recent match was a decision loss to Nicholas Meregali at WNO 14, and he’s 0-3 against divisional opponent Yuri Simoes, having met in 2012, 2014, and 2019. He holds victories over the likes of Tim Spriggs, Jake Shields, and more, and has gone toe-to-toe with Marcus Almeida, Felipe Pena, Andrea Galvao, and many more over the course of his career.

Just this year he retired from IBJJF Worlds but said that he would continue other avenues in competitive grappling. 

Yuri Simões, Brazil


  • 1st Place, 2017 ADCC World Championship -99kg
  • 1st Place, 2015 ADCC World Championship -88kg
  • 1st Place, 2016 IBJJF World Championship No-Gi, weight and absolute (2016**/2014**)
  • 1st Place, 2014 IBJJF World Championship No-Gi, weight and absolute 

A black belt under Ricardo Vieira, Simões is returning to the -99kg division after trying the +99kg division at ADCC 2019. In fact, Duarte was the man who stopped Simões short of an ADCC championship back in 2019 when the two met in the quarter final round. He’ll look to gain retribution if the two meet again, but he’ll have a target on his back from some of the other competitors as well, sporting a 2021 win over Devhonte Johnson and a 2019 win over Rafael Lovato Jr.

His takedowns and passing are among the best in the division. He’s one of the leading favorites to take home gold, but it will be a tough road to get there.

Craig Jones, Australia



  • 2nd Place, 2019 ADCC World Championship (-88kg)
  • 2018 Polaris 205 lbs Champion 
  • 2018 Polaris 185 lbs Champion 
  • 2019 Polaris 185 lbs Champion

One of the few grapplers choosing to move up in a weight division, Craig Jones is a former member of Danaher Death Squad before starting “B-Team” with some of his DDS Training Partners. He’s been known for being one of the best leg-lockers in the sport, but in his the last year or so he’s been especially working on his wrestling and guard passing, even taking a loss to the UFC’s Sean Brady at Fury Pro Grappling in 2021 as he was testing out new parts of his game. 

He was an ADCC -88kg runner up in 2017, but submitted the division’s #1-seed Leandro Lo in his first match of the tournament.

As for his -99kg divisional opponents, Jones faced Duarte in 2019 and lost, but his game has truly evolved in the time.

He also holds wins over some of the sport’s best such as Vagner Rocha, Mason Fowler, Tex Johnson, Tim Spriggs, Matheus Diniz, Richie Martinez, Dante Leon, Jake Shields, Leandro Lo, Nathan Orchard, and more.

Jones won’t be a leading favorite going in, but always a crowd favorite and he does have the skills to make it all the way.

Nicholas Meregali, Brazil



  • 1st Place, 2019 IBJJF World Championship
  • 1st Place, 2017 IBJJF World Championship 
  • 1st Place, 2022 IBJJF World Championship 
  • 1st Place, 2019 IBJJF World Championship 
  • 1st Place, 2018 IBJJF World Championship
  • 1st Place, 2019 BJJ Stars Grand Prix

Recently making the transition into nogi competition, Meregali’s credentials in the gi were more than enough to earn him an invitation to this year’s ADCC World Championships. A black belt under Mario Reis and Jeferson Adan, his transition to nogi has been a major talking point in the sport for the last year, and he’s been getting his mat time in with Gordon Ryan and other elites. Ryan has specifically noted that Meregali’s nogi game is some of the best that he’s seen. 

Meregali recently defeated Rafael Lovato Jr. and is one of the few people in the division to hold wins over Kaynan Duarte, but this will be their first time meeting without the gi.

Meregali has also defeated Tim Spriggs, Lucas Barbosa, Victor Hugo, Fellipe Andrew, and many, many more.

Many fans are curious to see how Meregali performs without the gi amongst some of the world’s most elite wrestlers, leg-lockers, and grapplers in general. If he were to make waves in this division, we’ll have a good insight of what the next decade of submission grappling might look like.

Elder Cruz, Honduras



  • 1st Place, 2022 IBJJF World Championships (brown belt)

A new black belt under Lucas Leite, Cruz was just recently promoted in June of 2022. He has a powerful style, heavy on takedowns and top game. 

He’s earned an invitation after performing at two Trials, where he came in 2nd and 4th place.

Vinicius Ganzola (Trator), Brazil

Alliance Jiu- Jitsu


  • 1st Place, 2019 IBJJF Pan Championship NoGi
  • 1st Place, 2019 CBJJ Brazilian Nationals

A black belt under Fábio Gurgel and Michael Langhi, Trator recently lost to Kaynan Duarte in the final round of Subversiv 7, but is one of the few competitors on the roster to have defeated him in the past. He also holds a win over Devhonte Johnson.

Luke-Michael Griffith, South Africa

New Wave Jiu-Jitsu

  • 1st Place, 2nd European Trials

Winner of the 2nd European Trials, Griffith is a low-key competitor without a large history to report on. What we do know about him is that he’s a pressure passer with solid wrestling skills. 

João Costa, Brazil

Fight Sports

  • 1st Place, 2022 ADCC 1st South American Trial
  • 1st Place, 2021 IBJJF Pan Championship NOGI (brown belt)
  • 1st Place, 2020 IBJJF Pan Championship NOGI (brown belt)

Coming out of Miami’s Fight Sports, Costa earned his black belt under Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu.

He has yet to stand against the sport’s most elite in competition, but he’s been very active this year. It seems to gain traction among the short list of competitors, and while this is his first ADCC Worlds appearance, it doesn’t seem that it will be his last.

Patrick Gaudio, Brazil

  • 1st Place, 2020 IBJJF European Open
  • 1st Place, 2017 IBJJF Pans Championship
  • 1st Place, 2017 CBJJ Brazilian Nationals

Gaudio has been an active competitor in the professional ranks since 2014, but hasn’t competed in 2022, yet.

He holds a win over divisional opponent Devhonte Johnson, but losses to Vinicius Trator and Kaynan Duarte. 

He has experience against Felipe Pena, Gordon Ryan, Andre Galvao, Leandro Lo, and more, which should play a major factor as he squares up with some of the less experienced opponents in the division.

Paul Ardila, USA

American Top Team Atlanta

  • 1st Place, 2022 ADCC West Coast Trials
  • 1st Place, 2019 ADCC West Coast Trials
  • 1st Place, 2017 ADCC West Coast Trials

Paul Ardila might be one of the most unique guys in the division. A lawyer by day, Ardila is not only a black belt under Roan Carneiro, but also an elite College wrestler. His skills are well-rounded and the ADCC ruleset is a good place for him to perform at his best.

He’s met some of his divisional opponents before, having lost to Devhonte Johnson in 2021 at the East Coast Trials and in 2019 at NYC Fall NGO. He also lost to Vinicius Trator at ADCC in 2019.

Devhonte Johnson, USA

Unity Jiu-Jitsu

  • 2nd Place, 1st North American Trials
  • 1st Place, 2021 IBJJF World Championship NOGI
  • 1st Place, 2021 IBJJF Pan Championship NOGI
  • 1st Place, 2019 IBJJF European Open NOGI

A black belt under Murilo Santana, Johnson has been a very active competitor since 2019. Heholds wins over Paul Ardila and Vinicius Trator, and losses to Yuri Simoes by decision at F2W 172 in 2021 and Patrick Gaudio at BJJ Stars 4 in 2020.

Coming off of a 2021 IBJJF NOGI World Championship, he’s shown that he has the ability to perform in clutch moments.

Henrqiue Ceconi, Brazil

KMKZ Jiu-Jitsu

  • 1st Place, 2nd South American Trial
  • 1st Place, 2018 IBJJF London Winter Open 

A black belt under Alexander Ceconi and Richard Avila, and also a high paced wrestler. He’s been a very active competitor since making his professional debut in 2017, and he holds a loss to Kaynan Duarte in 2019.

Kyle Boehm, USA

10th Planet

  • 1st Place, 2nd ADCC North American Trial (+99kg)
  • 1st Place, 2019 BJJ Fanatics Grand Prix
  • 1st Place, 2019 King Of The Mats Invitational

A black belt under Eddie Bravo’s John Botello, Boehm is one of the leading 10P representatives in the competition circuit right now. With 10P’s submission-only style, it will be interesting to see how Boehm attacks the ADCC point system.

Boehm won the ADCC Trials at +99kg, but has opted to come down to -99kg for Worlds.

He has a loss to Kaynan Duarte at WNO in 2021, but holds wins over Pedro Marinho, Lucas Barbosa, Tex Johsnon, Dante Leon, and more, and has competition against names such as Gordon Ryan and Nick Rodriguez, which can go a long way in this tournament. 

Perttu Tepponen, Finland

  • 1st Place, 2021 ADCC 1st European Trials
  • 1st Place, 2018 ADCC European Trials
  • 2nd Place, 2018 IBJJF European Open NoGi 

A black belt under Tero Pyylampi and Pedro Duarte, Tepponen is a highly athletic and technical competitor. While he isn’t the most active competitor on the roster, this is his second time returning to ADCC after also winning the EU trials in 2019. He will be looking to improve on his last ADCC Worlds appearance, where he was eliminated via points in Round 1.

Owen Livesey, England

Carlson Gracie Hull

  • 2nd Place, 2022 ADCC 2nd European Trials

Livesey came in 2nd place at the 2nd EU Trials, but his performance was enough to earn himself an invitation to bring his game onto the big stage.

He’s largely a judo-player, but the right strategy could lead him to a successful ADCC.


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