IBJJF’s 2023 No-Gi Pan-American Championships saw standout performances from some of the biggest names on the modern jiu-jitsu scene this past weekend.
In the men’s division, Dante Leon turned heads when he decided to move up to the super heavyweight division, giving up a major size advantage to defeat some of the most accomplished giants in the IBJJF’s heaviest weight class. Scalps that Leon collected this weekend included that of Devhonte Johnson, the current no-gi world champion, whom Leon defeated in the finals.
It’s worth noting that Leon is currently also one of the pound-for-pound strongest jiu-jitsu athletes in any weight division, bar none. His dedicated work under the barbell has clearly paid dividends in his ability to punch — or in this case, grapple — well above his natural weight class.
The tournament additionally featured some crowd-pleasing scraps between fan favorites, including an aggressive battle between up-and-coming black belt Francisco Lo and Daisy Fresh star Jacob Couch that saw Lo winning by submission, before going on to claim his first Pans gold in the finals against Clay Mayfield.
Perhaps most notably, this year’s No-Gi Pans saw some major submission hunting success from several athletes. Adele Fornarino, an ADCC Trials champ — and last year’s brown belt no-gi world champion — arm-barred her way through her division to claim her first major no-gi IBJJF title at black belt. Deise Leonanjo of Double Fight performed similarly, claiming the arms of every single opponent she faced in the black belt women’s middleweight division. New Wave sensation Oliver Taza also showed up and showed out, earning his own 100% submission victory rate at men’s middleweight.