Grand Slam Rio: Pena, Xande repeat epic battle for gold; black belt champions crowned on the first day of thrills in Brazil
The first day of the third leg of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour heated the Olympic Arena, at Barra da Tijuca, this Saturday, November 12, in Brazil. All gi divisions played out in over 9 hours of straight action for the pleasure of the crowd. Once again, the black belt division for men and the brown/black belt division for women were the highlights of an awesome day of Jiu-Jitsu in Rio. Here's how each division played out.
Male Black Belt
62kg – Hiago George made his way to the top of the podium after four tough matches won by points. The talented black belt from Cicero Costha's camp first beat Magno Vieira and then outscored Rodnei Junior to reach the semifinals. Felippe Melo would be Hiago's third opponent of the day. One sweep was enough to secure Hiago's spot in the final. The gold medal match put George against the also talented José Lima. Hiago once again relied on his sweep game to go ahead 2-0 in the scoreboard and take the title home.
69kg – Isaque Paiva is a fierce veteran in the UAEJJF circuit. Always a guarantee of thrilling matches, the black belt fought four times to reach the title. In his first three matches, he beat Ricardo lima by points and then finished Carlos Silva. The semifinal was a tough one, against Victor Moraes. After a scoreless tie, Paiva was granted the spot in the final by referee decision. The final match put Isaque against Rafael Mansur. Once again, it was a close match and the referees unanimously decided Paiva was more active and aggressive and elected him the champion.
77kg – In five matches, champion Alexandre Cavaliere finished two opponents (Robson Borges and Luan Alves), won one match by WO and won two matches by points. The last opponent would be Gabriel Rollo, who had no easy path on the bracket since his first match against Celso Venicius (2-0 on advantages), all the way to the semifinal against Johnny Souza (4-2 on advantages). The final was a close match and Cavaliere ended up edging Rollo by the minimum lead of 1-0 on advantages.
85kg - When favorite Gabriel Arges was disqualified for, according to the referee, rolling with the opponent to the wrong side while attacking a foot lock, the division became wide open. Manuel Ribamar moved on to the final while his teammate Matheus Souza did the same on the other side of the bracket. In the gold medal match, Matheus worked fast to catch Ribamar in an armbar and take the title.
94kg – The most stacked division of all featured names such as Felipe Pena, Romulo Barral, Xande Ribeiro, among others. Pena was fighting to defend the title he won in Tokyo, less than a month ago, while Xande wanted to regain the crown he won at the first leg, in Los Angeles. Before the two met in the final, Xande finished Max Gimenis from the back, then caught Marcus Santos with a kimura from side control. The semifinal would be what we call a classic. Xande would have to climb a tall wall named Romulo Barral. A 3-1 lead on advantages after six thrilling minutes of Xande trying to pass and Rominho working his magic open guard was enough to decide who was going to be in the final against defending champion Felipe Pena. The young talent out of Belo Horizonte finished all his three first opponents with chokes from the back. Igor Marques, Gustavo Saraiva and Marcus Fernandes were the victims. The final match was similar, but not identical to the division final at the Tokyo leg. This time, Xande managed to stay on top most of the time and score three advantages for nearly passing Pena's guard. With a little more than a minute on the clock, Pena made his move and worked a sweep that started in the half guard to score two points and secure his second gold medal on the tour.
110kg – Andre Campos repeated his campaign from Tokyo and made to the division final, just like he had done three weeks ago, in Japan. This time, he did even better and made his way to the top of the podium. The heaviest weight class was also one of the toughest, with names like Igor Silva, Jose Junior, Ricardo Evangelista, among others. Campos fought four times and submitted two opponents (Rafael Ferreira and Alan Victor). Then, he beat Ricardo Evangelista in the semifinal by referee decision and made his way to the final against Igor Silva, who had stopped Jose Junior's run for back to back gold medals after winning in Tokyo. The title was decided by a small lead of 1-0 on advantages for Campos.
Female – Brown/Black Belt
55kg – Thamires Aquino met her GF Team teammate in the final and quickly found a toehold to secure the gold medal.
62kg – Bia Mesquita fought three times. First, she choked Mariana de Jesus from the back. The semifinal between Bia and Bianca Basilio was a true nail biter. Bia managed a sweep to go ahead 2-0 on the scoreboard and secure her spot in the final. Then, she swept Larissa Paes twice to build a 4-0 lead and win the gold medal.
70kg – Ana Carolina Vieira fought twice. First, she outscored Renata Moreira 12-4 in the semifinal. Then she met Talita Neves in the final and finished the match with a choke from side control.
90kg – Nathiely de Jesus remains unbeatable. In three matches, she finished all her opponents. First, she caught Luana Fiquene with a toehold, then she finished Iris Silva to make it to the final. The gold medal went her way with a triangle choke on Samela Shohany.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour has its second and final day this Sunday, November 13, also at the Olympic Arena, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Day 2 will be devoted to the no-gi divisions.