IBJJF Masters Worlds 2021 – Miyao Brothers Closed Out Light-Feather Division Of Masters 1

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The IBJJF Master Worlds 2021, spanning three full days, cemented itself once more as one of the most well-attended mainstays on the jiu-jitsu competition calendar, seeing several thousand participants in total. While some are predominantly fans and hobbyists, other competitors have historically included the most decorated names in professional jiu-jitsu – often freshly retired from their careers in the adult division, but still chasing the adrenaline rush of a major tournament. 

Famous names from 2021’s crop of contenders included – but were by no means limited to – twin phenoms Paulo and Joao Miyao of PSLPB Cicero Costha, famous Gracie family scions Clark and Gregor, highly decorated multi-title women’s champions Pati Fontes and Michelle Nicolini, and of course, Gracie Humaita’s legendary Wellington “Megaton” Dias, now in his mid-fifties, competing in the Masters 6 division, and a longtime mainstay of the Master Worlds. 

The Miyao twins dominated their division, with Paulo claiming gold and Joao silver in the men’s light-feather division of Masters 1 black belts. Although we didn’t ultimately see a match-up between the brothers themselves, both weathered a gauntlet of tough opponents to earn their spots in that final bracket. Paulo, for example, faced Rodrigo Pinheiro BJJ’s Robson Brasil Feitoza in elimination rounds. After initiating with what may have been a takedown attempt, Paulo fell immediately to guard, taking advantage of his flexibility and repeatedly pummeling his legs to contend with Feitoza’s attempts to establish grips. A back take attempt from Paulo briefly created a leg entanglement that allowed Feitoza to survive for several minutes under Paulo’s assault. However, Paulo, who continued to attack Feitoza’s back undaunted, ultimately claimed his four points and sank in a lapel choke that ended the match by submission. 

Joao, meanwhile, faced off against Soul Fighters BJJ representative Lucas Lima in the semifinals. The match opened with an immediate double guard pull, during which Joao, like his brother, attempted the berimbolo that made both twins famous in their prime. Joao, undaunted by the referee forcing both competitors back to their feet, repeated the same strategy. Although Lima successfully warded off Joao’s onslaught for several minutes, the latter ultimately secured the back take, pushing Joao ahead of Lima by four points. Lima quickly scrambled back into Joao’s closed guard to escape Joao’s immediate submission attempts. However, with Lima unable to pass Joao’s guard or submit his opponent, Joao emerged victorious on points with a score of 4-0. 

Gregor Gracie likewise ruled his weight class in black belt Masters 1, earning gold under the Renzo Gracie banner in the men’s medium-heavy division. Gracie’s match in the finals against Nine Nine’s Sergio Rios opened with Rios sitting to guard. Gracie quickly found himself inside the closed guard of Rios, who promptly locked up a triangle choke. However, Gracie, seemingly unintimidated, postured out and escaped, transitioning to attack Rios’ back, which put the latter on the defensive. Rios narrowly escaped Gracie’s back take attempt to reclaim guard, only for Gracie to pass into side control for three points. Gracie advanced to mount for an additional four points, before pulling Rios into a closed guard of his own. Rios made several aggressive attempts to pass, before a sweep from Gracie urged both competitors back to their feet. Rios made an aborted attempt at what may have been a flying triangle, before sitting back to guard. Although a few attempts were made by both competitors to wrestle back to their feet, we ultimately saw more commitment to guard play, with Gracie once again looking to attack the back. Gracie cemented his victory on points with a final score of 7-0. 

Megaton, whose famous wars on the mat have long held jiu-jitsu fans rapt, once again reminded the world why they’ve been watching him for decades, as he fought his way to double gold in Masters 6 as a lightweight contender, with Gracie Humaita teammate Ricardo Guimarães conceding in the finals of his own weight class, and Megaton securing an impressive victory over Brazilian Top Team’s super heavyweight Brian William Lewis in the finals of the absolute division. The match between Megaton and Lewis opened with an aggressive grip-fighting exchange on the feet, before Lewis pulled closed guard. Megaton, biding his time with characteristic patience, made his way carefully from Lewis’ full guard into half, then quarter guard, and finally completed the pass for three points, with less than a minute left on the clock. Not to be satisfied with points alone, Megaton then attempted – and nearly completed – a lapel choke before time was called, leaving him the victor with a score of 3-0.

As for the ladies, Fontes, competing in the Masters 1 category under the CheckMat banner, cinched the gold on Thursday in the finals of the women’s light-feather division after a grueling battle against Amber Rymarz-Freitas of Gracie Barra. The match began with not one, but two immediate double guard pulls in a row, which twice resulted in both women being stood up and forced to restart by the referee. A third double guard pull, however, segued at last into action, with Fontes securing two points for a sweep, and immediately moving into an aggressive attempt to pass Rymarz-Freitas’ nimble open guard. Although ultimately unable to score the pass, Fontes also left Rymarz-Freitas unable to secure points of her own, defeating her opponent 2-0. 

At the end of the day, the 2021 Masters Worlds showcased a remarkable display of talent among the older athletes of the sport, ranging from recent champions of the adult divisions looking to fight it out among the still relatively youthful contenders of Masters 1 and 2 categories, to the longtime legends and veterans of Masters 6 and 7. While all eyes may be typically glued to the fresh young things in the adult black belt classes, this year’s Masters Worlds matches remind us that the sport continues to offer opportunity – and the thrill of a good grappling exchange – well past one’s typical athletic prime. 


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