Posts Tagged ‘Rafael Mendes’

Combat Sports Report: IBJJF European Open Preview, Wrestling, Kickboxing Results

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

The first major International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) tournament of 2011 is finally upon us, and it takes us to Lisbon, Portugal for the European Open Championships, beginning on Jan. 27. This year, the final tally of competitors registered has officially surpassed the Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships and is now the second biggest tournament in the world.

This year’s Europeans look more like a Mundial championship roster of the best black belts around. Here are my fighters to watch in each division and who I think could make a run at gold in the tournament’s biggest divisions:

Light-Featherweight (Pluma) 141 lb.

Bruno Malfacine (top) (photo courtesy of GracieMag)

Without a roosterweight division, the light-feather will be the lightest weight category at black belt in 2011. The division’s top black belt standout is roosterweight world champion Bruno Malfacine, but the newly promoted Atos black belt Ary Farias has dominated at all previous belt levels and is currently a two-time brown belt European champion. Look for this division to come down to those competitors, but don’t forget the dark horses in the division such as Laercio Fernandes, who is coming off a great win over Caio Terra at the American Nationals.

Featherweight (Pena) 154 lb.

One of the more interesting categories is the featherweight division, since now both Rafael and Guilherme Mendes will be fighting in the same division together. Also, the brothers will be sharing the same division with two other teammates, Bruno Frazzatto and Eduardo Ramos. Expect a possible gentleman’s agreement in the final, but never underestimate the rest of the competition, including No-Gi world champion Justin Rader and ADCC medalist Ryan Hall. They too can make a serious run at gold.

Lightweight (Leve) 167 lb.

Probably the deepest division in the entire tournament, there could easily be six or seven guys that are deserving to be at the top of the division. Last year’s co-champions Michael Langhi and Lucas Lepri will be looking for a repeat performance, but Gilbert Burns, Jonathan Torres and Augusto Mendes will be standing in their way.

Middleweight (Medio) 181 lb.

With the current Worlds silver medalist Claudio Calasans in the division, it is easy to see who the favorite will be. But that doesn’t mean Alan “Finfou” Nascimento, Marcos Souza, Ryan Beauregard or Victor Estima can’t spoil the Atos black belt’s fun and make a run at gold. Expect a category open to plenty of upsets and new faces to make a big impression at this European.

Medium-Heavyweight (Medio-Pesado) 194.5 lb.

This category contains tons of top talent including two world champions, Sergio Moraes and Braulio Estima. Look for the finale to most likely come down to the former middleweight in Moraes and former heavyweight in Estima to see who will be the champion. But don’t rule out the tough Rogel Monsalve as a strong third force in the weight class.

Heavyweight (Pesado) 207.5 lb.

As we get to the big boys of the competition, one of the best “big” black belts in the world is Bernardo Faria, who most recently claimed the status of world champion by beating two-time absolute champion Xande Riberio. In a division with the least amount of competitors, it’s a good expectation to see Faria reaching the final. Also, 2009 brown belt absolute champion Leo Nogueira is a heavy favorite to make a run. These two top heavyweight teammates look to be heading in the direction of closing out their division without a final.

Super-Heavyweight (Super Pesado) 221 lb.

Coming off his gold at the No-Gi Worlds, look for Rafael Lovato Jr. to walk into the building with the status as favorite for the super-heavyweight division. But there are plenty of candidates to make an upset in the division, including the veteran Bruno Bastos and Eduardo Almedia Ramos.

Ultra-Heavyweight (Pesadissmo) Above 221 lb.

In the division of the “big boys” the 2010 world champion, Rodrigo Cavaca of Checkmat, is the heavy favorite to come out victorious in his class. Without Gabriel Vella, Roberto “Cyborg” or Antonio Braga Neto signed up, this is Cavaca’s opportunity to make it gold in the Euro’s for the second straight year.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

If it seems that we are talking about Penn State every week in this column, it’s probably true.  The Nittany Lions really leave us no choice as every week they seem to be getting better and better. Now that is downright scary for the rest of the field because every week their young guns, Alton, Taylor and Ruth, become more and more confident and transfer Andrew Long becomes more and more comfortable.

Quentin Wright (photo courtesy of Penn State)

Oh did we mention All-America Quinten Wright is back from injury? Wright recorded a fall in his second match back against Indiana. Penn State continued to look like a perfect storm, winning 36-8 against another quality program. In a week full of upsets, the Nittany Lions wrestled stronger than ever. Scary.  Very scary. (in-depth coverage)

Well, apparently nobody told Lehigh that after being upset by Navy last week they were supposed to wilt under the bright red light that was No. 1 Cornell. The Big Red came into Bethlehem, Pa., a bit bruised up. Nobody could have expected how things would play out.

Steve Dutton of Lehigh mounted a furious comeback against Corey Manson. Then Kid Dynamite (Kyle Dake, Cornell) proved he doesn’t have the bang we are used to seeing.  Finally, the middle weights that failed to come through against Navy brought the home crowd to a frenzy point when Brandon Hatchette and Rob Hamlin knocked off top-three wrestlers in Justin Kerber and Steve Bosak. This is why the Lehigh-Cornell Rivalry is one of the best in the country. We can’t wait to see part two at EIWA’s. (in-depth coverage)

The strong season for east coast wrestling continued last Friday in Piscataway, N.J., as the Rutgers wrestling team continued to ascend to new heights when they beat a formidable Virginia Tech team, 24-7, in what was probably the biggest win in Rutgers wrestling history.

The Scarlet Knights have come a long way since what we dubbed a lackluster season opener at Brockport. They chose to start the match at 125 with Joey Langel against Jarrod Garnett. The match got the crowd into it right away as the two exchanged leads all match. In the end, Langel was able to pull off the upset. Although Virginia Tech won the next bout with a major decision by Devin Carter, the Hokies never really got into the hunt. From that point on the only bout they won was at 157 when Jesse Dong slipped past Darrell Coccozzo in the last few seconds.

It’s increasingly evident that the culture is changing on the East Coast as teams like Cornell, Lehigh, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and Maryland look to be contenders year in and year out. It was definitely exciting to have a match with that kind of feel in our backyard. It continues to prove that wrestling is a viable revenue source for universities and, if promoted properly, can be successful anywhere. (in-depth coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Penn State
2. Cornell
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. Missouri
6. Iowa
7. Rutgers
8. Oklahoma State
9. Boise State
10. Oklahoma

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Jan. 22 saw “The Contender Asia” participant Dzhabar Askerov knock out Riccardo Lecca in the first round of their bout at KnocKOut in Rome. Also on the card, Marco Pique claimed a decision over Bruno Franchi after an extension round.

In Japan, Hinata picked up a third-round knockout victory over South Korean fighter Woo Yong Choi at Rebels-EX.

Saiyok Pumpanmuang

Current Lumpinee Stadium 70kg (154 lb.) champion Saiyok Pumpanmuang will retire following his final bout on Jan. 25.

Feb. 5 will see kickboxing legend Andy Souwer face off against Abraham Roqueni under K-1 rules in the main event of El Desafio K-1 in Malaga, Spain.

The It’s Showtime card slated for March 6 is rumored to include Leroy Kaestner battling Ramzi Tamaditi, Fran Palenzuela against Dennis Schneidmiller, Manuel Hinojo fighting Hafid el Boustati, and Youness el Mhassani facing either Olver Tinda or current 77kg (169.4 lb) champion Artem Levin.

Mike Zambidis will compete in the main event of Iron Challenge from Athens, Greece on March 12. His “Kings of the Ring” super welterweight title will be on the line as he faces Ali Gunyar.

Rumors are swirling that Isuzu Thai Fight 2011 will now feature both 67kg (147.4 lb) and 70kg (154 lb) tournaments. The likely representative for Thailand in the 70kg tournament will be Buakaw Por. Pramuk.

Combat Sports Report: BJJ Awards, Reno Tourney of Champions, new It’s Showtime champs

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

Popovitch takes his opponent's back at the No-Gi Worlds (photo: John Lamonica/GracieMag)

With 2010 soon coming to a close, right now may be the perfect time to take a look back at the top competitors and top fights that made 2010 a year to remember.

In a vote taken on to see who the fans believed were the best competitors in jiu-jitsu in 2010, the fans spoke and selected Pablo Popovitch as the leading vote-getter, with Roger Gracie taking second overall in the polls.

Pablo captured the jiu-jitsu community’s attention this year by having another stellar Nogi season, winning the Pan medium-heavyweight and closing out the Pan Absolute title with friend Marcus Bochecha. Later on in the year, Pablo captured the World Nogi title and, once again, won all his previous matches to close out the World Absolute title with Bochecha and Avengers teammate, Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu.

In the women’s voting, the clear winner was Team Alliance’s Gabrielle Garcia, who tore through all her competitors throughout the year, winning every event she entered including the Pan and World Absolute titles.

The voting also included categories such as “Best Fight of 2010,” which was awarded to Rafael Mendes (Atos) and Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles (Alliance) for their battle in the finals of the featherweight division at the 2010 Mundials. Mendes would go on to win the classic duel by two advantage points. In addition, the young Mendes was also awarded by the fans as jiu-jitsu’s most consistent athlete with Roberto Abreu coming in as the runner-up.

The fans also voted on the “Revelation of the Year” and the award was given to Atos middleweight black belt Claudio Calasans, who took the jiu-jitsu world by storm by winning the Abu-Dhabi World Pro Absolute and weight division, beating three-time World champion Braulio Estima in the process. Jiu-Jitsu’s new revelation had an eye-opening Mundial showing as well, taking the silver medal in the middleweight division, coming up short in the final against Marcelo Garcia by a tight two to zero score.

As we take a final look back at the year that was, let’s also look forward to the competitions that lie ahead including Claudio Franca’s growing U.S. Open competition scheduled to take place Jan. 29 in Santa Cruz. This competition continues to grow after each event, already drawing top names like Antonio Braga Neto, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, Theodoro Canal and Marcel Fortuna. This next event is expected to bring those big names and even more.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Shane Onufer helps boost Wyoming to a big win (photo courtesy of University of Wyoming)

The University of Wyoming wrestling program boosted its national reputation in a big way Sunday at a prestigious event in Reno, Nev. The Cowboys took to the mats in the Reno Tournament of Champions in an event that features some of the top teams and wrestlers from across the nation. With five wrestlers placing in the top five of their weight classes, the Cowboys scored 106 points to win the team title, edging out perennial powerhouse Boise State by 1.5 points. As a team, Wyoming went 41-20 in its matches. (In-depth Coverage)

The Penn State Nittany Lions wrestling team, under the guidance of head coach Cael Sanderson, battered visiting Ohio State 42-6 Sunday in the Big Ten wrestling dual meet opener for both teams. Number 5 Penn State won all but one bout against No. 22 Ohio State in front of yet another huge Rec Hall crowd. Over 5,100 fans cheered Penn State on as the Nittany Lions moved to 7-0 on the year.

With a starting line-up featuring five freshmen, the Nittany Lions were nonetheless dominant. Red-shirt freshman David Taylor remained undefeated with a 14-1 dismantling of Buckeye senior Colt Sponseller in the dual’s marquee bout at 157. Taylor entered the bout ranked No. 3 while Sponseller was No. 13. Taylor’s 14-1 major included 5:44 of riding time and the Lion freshman remains undefeated on the year with a 13-0 record. (In-depth Coverage)

Second-ranked Brandon Precin and fifth-ranked Jason Welch each pinned two opponents to lead a Northwestern team that improved to 10-0 on the year with shutout victories over Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Sunday. The ‘Cats blanked the Huskies, 38-0, before blowing past host SIUE, 51-0. The 51 points amassed against the Cougars mark the first time since 1986 that Northwestern has topped the 50-point plateau in a dual match. (In-depth Coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Oklahoma
8. Illinois
9. Rutgers
10. Boise State

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Mousasi to compete in K-1 rules fight at Dynamite!! 2010 (photo courtesy of

The kickboxing world is still abuzz after the performance of “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem at this year’s K-1 World Grand Prix just two weeks ago. K-1 parent company, FEG, looks to end the year with more fireworks, as it holds Dynamite!! 2010 on New Year’s Eve. Two K-1 bouts have been scheduled, as Tetsuya Yamato takes on Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura and Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi will match up against Grand Prix participant Kyotaro. Also on the card will be a mixed-rules match pitting Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki against Yuichiro “Jienotsu” Nagashima, with one round of kickboxing and one round of MMA. It is also rumored that Overeem will participate in the event, but in an MMA bout.

Dutch promotion It’s Showtime rounded out its year by crowning two new champions in their 70 kg (154 lb) and 77 kg (169.4 lb) divisions. The promotion recently held events in Athens and Amsterdam with titles up for grabs in both locations. As previously reported, current 61 kg (134.2 lb) champion Sergio Wielzen defeated Masahiro Yamamoto to retain his belt. Meanwhile, Chris Ngimbi claimed a decision victory over Murat Direkçi to take home the 70 kg strap. In Amsterdam, after former champion Cosmo Alexandre was stripped of his title, late replacement Artem Levin TKO’d the favored L’houcine Ouzgni to take home the 77 kg belt. In the night’s main event, Mohamed Khamal battled through an extension round to defeat Mosab Amrani in a potential fight of the year. After a busy 2010, the promotion has cemented itself as the clear-cut number two organization in the kickboxing world, and maintains lofty ambitions for 2011.

The Combat Sports Report: K-1 Koshien, Sprawl & Brawl, ADCC, Rickson Cup

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Shoei Hareyama (photo courtesy of K-1/video still image)

Saturday, Nov. 20, saw K-1 host its Koshien 2010 King of Under 18 Final from Differ Ariake in Tokyo. The format of the tournament was changed for 2010, as the entire tourney was decided in a single event. In years past, the final four competitors participated at the end of year Dynamite event. The 32 competitors fought one two-minute round in the opening portion of the tournament, with the semifinals and finals consisting of three 2-minute rounds. In a bit of a surprise, 2009 Koshien Champion Masaaki Noiri was defeated in the second round of the tournament. With the favorite defeated, Shoei Hareyama claimed this year’s championship by knocking out Hiroki Akimoto in the second round of the final bout. Full results of the tournament:

Elite Boxing staged its Thailand v. Germany show over the weekend and Leroy Kaestner took out late replacement Cagri Ermis by decision to claim the WFCA European 72.5kg (160-pound) title. Thailand claimed the series fights by a score of 2-0 over Germany, as Kaoklai defeated Marco Aschenbrenner and Nonsai defeated Alex Vogel, both by decision.

Coming up on Thursday from Dubai will be Thailand v. Middle East. The card will feature Samranchai taking on Mostafa Abdollahi, as well as Vahid Rosyani facing Ahmed Saadi.

UFC veteran Jeff Monson was scheduled to face IKF Muay Thai super heavyweight champion Patrice Quarteron at the “Fight for Peace” on Reunion Island off of France. Unfortunately, Monson experienced family problems and was forced to pull out of the Muay Thai contest.

The 2010 S-Cup did not play out as expected. The likely tournament final of former two-time K-1 MAX Champion Buakaw Por. Pramuk and three-time S-Cup and two-time K-1 MAX Champion Andy Souwer did not happen, as Souwer was upset by Bellator’s Toby Imada.

Imada came in as a late replacement for Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett and, after upsetting Umeno by knockout in the tourney’s opening round, claimed a split-decision victory over Souwer in the semifinals.

Buakaw would capture the 2010 Shoot Boxing S-Cup by outclassing all three of his tournament opponents. Buakaw’s claimed decisions over Shishido and Henri van Opstal on his way to the finals. In the final, the Thai fighter would attack Imada’s legs, knocking him down five times in the first two rounds from leg kicks. Due to the three-knockdown rule, the bout was called in the second to award Buakaw the victory.

In other notable bouts, Dream fighter Daiki “DJ.taiki” Hata defeated Tomohiro Oikawa by knockout in the second round, while Strikeforce and Pride vet Mitsuhiro Ishida was knocked out by Hiroaki Suzuki in the second round of their bout.

Cosmo Alexandre, the “It’s Showtime” 77kg (170-pound) champion who was recently stripped of his title and removed from the promotion’s upcoming card, released a statement regarding the situation. Alexandre claims that he agreed to the King’s Cup tournament bout on Dec. 5, prior to the scheduled Dec. 18 bout from the promotion and that he was not aware of the scheduling stipulations claimed by “It’s Showtime.” He also blamed financial reasons for his decision to compete in both events, but without knowing the specifics of his contract, it’s unclear where the blame should lie.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Anthony Robles of Arizona State made a bang at the NWCA All Star match, dominating Zach Sanders in tech, falling the Gopher 20-2. Robles continues to impress and show he will be a match-up no 125-pounder will want in Philly this March. Also making a statement at the all-star match was oft-outspoken former Penn State standout Bubba Jenkins. The new Sun Devil came home with a major decision over top-ranked Adam Hall 12-4. (in-depth coverage)

Central Michigan’s Scott Sentes should be tested for Anaconda blood in his DNA. Sentes has been absolutely dominate so far this season. He rode Cornell’s Joe Stanzione for two days straight at the dual and the Body Bar. (in-depth coverage)

Dan Rinaldi (photo courtesy of Rutgers)

Dan Rinaldi of Rutgers turned some heads going to overtime with Quentin Wright of Penn State and No. 13 Mario Mason (Rutgers) had a very impressive win over West Virginia’s No. 8 Brandon Rader of West Virginia 6-1 and a controversial loss to No. 3 Frank Molinaro of Penn State, who is back after an injury. (in-depth coverage)

Penn State continued its hot start, knocking off another ranked opponent. Perhaps what’s most impressive are the starts of Andrew Alton and David Taylor. Both freshman seem to have no issues with wrestling on the Division 1 level, rolling through the Sprawl and Brawl.

As most of the wrestling community has heard, after a lack-luster win in the Central Michigan dual, Cornell’s Kyle Dake is overrated and will never hang with the likes of Frank Molinaro (Penn State) and Darrion Caldwell (North Carolina State). It is time to take a deep breath and breathe, people. Kyle Dake may or may not win a title this year, but I am sure when his ribs get healthy and he learns to manage the weight cutting for 149 pounds, he will be in the mix.

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma
9. Central Michigan
10. Illinois

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Bryan Henderson

Kron Gracie (white gi) vs. Karim Byron (photo courtesy of GracieMag/John Lamonica)

Braulio Estima, Shane Rice and brothers Guilherme and Rafael Mendes were among the winners at the Rickson Cup, held Nov. 20 in Japan. The absolute division crown went to Kron Gracie, son of the event’s namesake, with a win over Karim Byron in the finals.  Kron also captured first place in the middleweight division.

I’ve been talking about it for weeks, but the ADCC North American trials finally took place on Nov. 20 in New Jersey. Top honors went to Mario Rinaldi in the +99kg (plus-218-pound) division, Joseph Lee Baize at 88-99kg (194-218 pounds), Rustam Chsiev at 77-87kg (170-192 pounds), Vagner Rocha at 66-76kg (145.5-167.5) and Mark Ramos in the under-65kg (under-145-pound) division.

Chsiev has entered the year’s final major event, the 2010 World Series of Grappling, which goes down on Dec. 4 in Asbury Park, N.J..

Another big event this past weekend was the South American Jiu-Jitsu Open. Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes walked away with championships in both the lightweight and absolute divisions. In both campaigns, he had to go through Mario Reis of Gracie Barra to claim top honors. Other winners at the event included Bruno Frazatto at featherweight and Priscila Prandini in the brown/black belt female divisions at medium heavyweight and open weight.