The IBJJF’s 2023 Pan-American Championships saw some stunning victories – and surprising upsets – from fan favorites in the sport, including Nicholas Meregali, Elisabeth Clay, and more.
Nicholas Meregali Returns to the Gi, Takes Double Gold
Though Nicholas Meregali seemingly hung up his kimono to focus exclusively on no-gi with John Danaher’s New Wave crew – and earned two medals at ADCC 2022 for his efforts, no less – the former gi specialist made a triumphant return to his original sport at this year’s Pans. Meregali won double gold at ultra heavyweight and absolute, submitting all but his final opponent, super heavyweight Erich Munis, on the way to the podium.
Elisabeth Clay Wins First Gold Medal in Gi Major By Kneebar
Owner of some of the nastiest leglock chains – and creative submission entries – in jiu-jitsu, Elisabeth Clay is perhaps best-known as a no-gi specialist. However, the gi did nothing to slow down the leglocking wizard, who found her way to a kneebar over Thalyta Silva to claim her first major gi championship title. This may mark Clay’s most successful competitive season to date, particularly given that she recently also claimed wins over both of 2022’s ADCC champions.
ADCC Champs Amy Campo and Ffion Davies Take Silver
Amy Campo and Ffion Davies, who took ADCC gold in 2022, are considered two of the most dominant female athletes on the modern jiu-jitsu scene. Both performed admirably at Pans 2023, earning a silver medal apiece but ultimately lost out in the finals of their respective divisions. Ana Carolina Vieira took a victory by advantages over Campo in a zero-zero score, while Luiza Monteiro eked out a narrow win over Ffion, also by advantages, breaking an otherwise tied-up score of 4-4.
Tainan Dalpra, Gabrieli Pessanha, and Cole Abate Continue Dominant Streaks
In performances that shocked absolutely no one, three standout athletes – Tainan Dalpra, Gabrieli Pessanha, and Cole Abate – continued to cement their now famously dominant reputations. Tainan Dalpra, currently undefeated in the IBJJF, earned his third PanAms title with seeming ease.
Meanwhile, female super heavyweight Gabrieli Pessanha earned double gold at weight and absolute, with impressive wins over daunting opponents – including Ana Carolina Vieira, who took out ADCC champ Amy Campo in her own division.
Cole Abate, the lone brown belt among the three, is unlikely to remain at that rank for long. The teenager tore through five opponents to win gold at his first ever brown belt major, and shows no signs of slowing down.