Black Belt Previews the ADCC World Championship
Men's 66 kg:
With no former champions present, the men's 66 kg class may be the tournament's most wide open field featuring a mix of experienced veterans and talented, young, up-and-comers. Names to keep an eye on are Kennedy Maciel and Diogo Reis. Maciel hasn't made a lot of noise lately but was the runner-up at ADCC 2019 in this division while Reis, though undersized, looked impressive in capturing one of the always tough South American qualifiers. Also, don't sleep on American Cole Abate. Though just a 17-year-old purple belt, he stormed through a tough North American qualifier last year. An intriguing dark horse is veteran Garry Tonon. After years of always impressing but coming up a little short at 77 kg, he's moving down in weight to try his luck at 66 kg.
Men's 77 kg:
One of the toughest divisions at this year's event with a line-up lead by two-time defending champion JT Torres. Though he just turned 33, Torres has been untouchable in no-gi grappling for several years and is still the odds on favorite to take the division. To win though, he'll have to beat out some streaking young prodigies, notably Kade Ruotolo and Mica Galvao. Ruotolo, 19, comes from the same Atos team that Torres does and could be the squad's next superstar while Galvao is just 18 and has looked unbeatable of late. For a dark horse look to Nicky Ryan. The 21-year-old younger brother of grappling star Gordon Ryan has been on the scene for several years now but hasn't yet broken through with a major championship.
Men's 88 kg:
Defending champion Matheus Diniz will be tough but his performances since taking the crown in 2019 have been spotty, perhaps opening things up for a deep field of contenders. North American Trials winners Giancarlo Bodoni and Jacob Rodriguez could both be trouble as could veteran Lucas Barbosa. Kade Ruotolo's equally talented brother Tye also graces the division. Mason Fowler, who won the 99 kg division at the North American East Coast Trials, is dropping down in weight to compete at 88 kg. And keep an eye on Britain's Eoghan O’Flanagan, who won all five of his European qualifying matches by submission.
Men's 99 kg:
Perhaps the heaviest favorite in the event is Kaynan Duarte. After winning the 99+ kg category at the last ADCC championships in 2019, Duarte drops down a weight class to seek a title at 99 kg. Looking to challenge him will be Yuri Simoes, who owns two ADCC titles but hasn't been active in 2022, and Kyle Boehm, who's also dropping down a weight class to compete at 99 kg after taking the North American West Coast Trials at 99+ kg. One other intriguing name is veteran Craig Jones who's moving up a weight class. Though he might be outsized, Jones is one of the best leg lock specialists in the world and if Duarte has any vulnerability in his game, it may be to heel hooks.
Men's 99+ kg:
Maybe the most fascinating division at this year's ADCC, made particularly so by the presence of Gordon Ryan. Ryan pulled double gold at the last ADCC winning the 99 kg category and the absolute division qualifying him for a shot this year at superfight champion Andre Galvao. But Ryan decided he wanted to compete in the 99+ division as well where he'll be a favorite but not a huge one as he'll have to contend with rival Felipe Pena as well as a host of other former ADCC winners including Roberto Abreu and Orlando Sanchez. But Ryan's most interesting match-up might come against 2019 division silver medalist, and former teammate, Nick Rodriguez.
Women's 60 kg:
Bianca Basilio is back to defend the title she won in 2019. She'll have some tough competition though as 2017 winner Beatriz Mesquita will also be present, as will be South American Trials winner Mayssa Bastos. While undersized, Bastos has been almost unbeatable for several years. And Canadian Brianna Ste-Marie won both the North American East Coast and West Coast Trials showing she'll be a force to contend with.
Women's 60+ kg:
2019 winner and four-time ADCC world champion Gabrielle Garcia is clearly the favorite here but there are a few other women in the field to keep an eye on. Qualifying winners Amy Campo, Kendall Reusing and Giovanna Jara are all talented. But Garcia's toughest competition might come from no-gi world champion Rafaela Guedes.
This year's superfight may be the most anticipated match-up in grappling history. Defending champion and jiu-jitsu legend Andre Galvao will take on 2019 ADCC Absolute champion Gordon Ryan in a battle both men have been chirping about for years. Since winning the ADCC Superfight crown, arguably denoting the best grappler in the world, in 2013, Galvao has defended the title an unprecedented three times. But at the age of 39, against a younger, larger, Ryan, Galvao may well be the underdog. Though a polarizing figure seen by many in the grappling world as abrasive, the 27-year-old Ryan has been building to this moment for years now. His choice to also compete in the 99+ division before the superfight could be a show of bravado that comes back to harm his chances in the superfight, however. Then again, after winning the 99 kg division at ADCC in 2019, he had no problem turning around and running through the Absolute division to qualify for his shot at Galvao this year.
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