IBJJF Worlds 2023 saw it all: standout performances from fan favorites, shocking upsets by underdogs, new champions crowned, and of course, speculative superfight matchmaking.
Female Black Belts Deliver Across the Board
Among the female black belt champions were some of the most dominant athletes of the past year, including 2022 ADCC champions Ffion Davies and Amy Campo, both of whom got to add 2023 Mundials gold to their growing collection of accolades.
Mayssa Bastos, who’s looked unstoppable at roosterweight on pretty much every competitive field she’s taken, won her division as well, while former ADCC champ and defending featherweight queen Bia Basilio defeated former light-feather champion Ana Rodrigues on a narrow war of advantages. AOJ’s longtime standout Jessa Khan also cinched her first ever world title, adding to a growing resume of impressive accomplishments for the 21-year-old.
As for the bigger weight classes, Gabi Pessanha continued to prove herself a formidable monster, handily winning both the super heavyweight and open class divisions via submissions off her highly dangerous back attacks.
New Double Gold Men’s Champion Sets Eyes on Potential Payday in Meregali Superfight
Meanwhile, among the gentlemen, Victor Hugo took home his long sought-after double gold victory. Nicholas Meregali – the previous open class men’s champ, who was largely considered one of the all-time greats in the gi before his move to New Wave to focus on no-gi competition – has already begun calling Hugo out for a superfight on social media.
“Nicholas Meregali vs. Victor Hugo. Let’s see who’s the real king,” wrote Meregali in an Instagram post. In the caption, he puts a betting offer of $20,000 in prize money on the line.
Hugo, for his part, seems down to scrap, quickly firing back in a FloGrappling interview, “I’m here, let’s make it happen.”
Tainan Dalpra Dethroned By Former Color Belt Rival
A few weight classes below the big boys, previously unstoppable middleweight king Tainan Dalpra – famously undefeated in IBJJF competition at black belt – suffered his first loss, to one Jansen Gomes. While these two have exchanged wins and loses at the colored belts, the middleweight finals of Worlds 2023 represented by far the highest stakes match either man has taken against the other.
It’s not the match most fans expected to see play out in the finals. After all, much has been made of 2022 lightweight champion Tye Ruotolo’s move up to middleweight – largely, according to Tye himself, for the express purpose of taking his shot at Tainan’s crown.
However, Ruotolo’s dreams would be dashed by Jansen Gomes in the seminfinals. While most of their bracket-mates tend to be wary of the Ruotolo twins’ famously scrappy wrestling and top game, Gomes looked more than happy to engage with Tye on the feet. His ability to score takedown points on Tye – which Ruotolo was ultimately unable to recoup – won the day for Gomes.
Gomes continued to play an aggressive top game in the finals against Dalpra, who immediately pulled guard. A lightning fast near-back take from Gomes in the opening minutes of the match quickly earned the challenger two advantages against the defending champion.
Dalpra, not one to give up his crown so easily, managed to block Gomes from collecting his points, and countered with a series of sweep attempts from guard. Gomes, however, displayed a remarkably powerful base, seemingly unfazed by the champ’s attempts to take him off his feet.
Ultimately, Dalpra proved unable to recoup the advantages that Gomes won in the first half of their match – securing the win for an underdog in Jansen Gomes.
No doubt this marks the latest – and most exciting – chapter in an ongoing rivalry that’s sure to unfold in future chapters at other IBJJF majors. For now, however, Gomes reigns as the new king of the middleweights – and deservedly so.