The 4 Male Americans To Win The IBJJF Black Belt World Championship


Although the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (IBJJF Mundials) is typically associated with Brazilian athletes, a number of American athletes have won the tournament’s black belt division.

These elite American athletes include:

1. BJ Penn IBJJF World Champion 2000

Born in 1978 of an Irish-American father and a Korean American mother, BJ Penn learned about Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the age of 17 when Tom Callos, his neighbor at the time, introduced him to the sport.

Penn then moved to San Jose, California, to advance his training at the Ralph Gracie BJJ academy with Dave Camarillo. Upon earning his purple belt from Gracie, Penn moved to Nova União to advance his training under Andre Pederneiras, eventually earning a black belt in 2000. Shortly thereafter, Penn won the black-belt division of the Mundials, becoming the first non-Brazilian to win the division.


2. Robert Drysdale IBJJF World Champion 2005:

Robert Drysdale was born of an American father and a Brazilian mother in Provo, Utah. However, at age six, his family moved to Brazil where he spent his childhood and teen years. At age 17, he joined the Quatro Tempos Academy in the city of Itú State of Sao Paulo, Brazil to learn jiu-jitsu. In 2000, Robert moved to Indaiatuba in Brazil to advance his BJJ training at the “Maromba” academy under Professor Paulo Streckert. His intense training paid off when he won an IBJJF World Championship in the 2005 tournament, becoming the second American to win the title.


3. Rafael Lovato Jr IBJJF World Champion 2007:

Born on June 25, 1983 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rafael Lovato Jr. started training in BJJ at the age of 13, first under his father and later under Carlos Machado. At the age of 19, Rafael earned his brown belt from Carlos Machado. At the invitation of Saulo Ribeiro, he moved to Brazil in 2003 to advance his BJJ training. In 2004, he received his black belt and three years later (2007), won the World Championship.


4. Michael Musumeci IBJJF World Champion 2017

Born on July 7, 1996 in Marlboro, NJ, Michael Musumeci joined the Fatijo’s Martial Arts Academy at age 4 to train in BJJ under Fernando “Cabeça.” He trained under Fernando “Cabeça” for six years before moving to Wellington, Florida. He continued his training in Florida and earned his green and blue belts from Emyr “Shark” Bussade. He received his purple belt in 2014 and his black belt in 2015, aged 18 years. Michael Musumeci won the male black belt division in this year’s (2017) Mundials.


Michael Musumeci Becomes The 4th American IBJJF World Champion

The four Americans to win the IBJJF Black Belt World Champion are Michael Musumeci (2017), Rafael Lovato Jr (2005), Robert Drysdale (2007) and B. J. Penn (2000)



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