Pessanha and Other New Faces Shine at IBJJF World Championships

Gabi Pessanha
This weekend's International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation's world championships in Anaheim, Calif., the first held since 2019 due to the pandemic, witnessed new faces dominate the event lead by women's double gold medalist Gabrieli Pessanha. Making her world championships debut as a black belt, Pessanha captured both the super heavyweight and the open weight divisions defeating her rival, Yara Soares, in the finals of both.

The event saw a host of elite grapplers, including several incumbent champions, decline to compete due in large part to ongoing pandemic concerns. Among the handful of titlists who did return to defend their crowns was American Mikey Musumeci, who earned his fourth straight black belt world championship capturing a second straight title in the 57 kg category. Defending 88 kg champion Felipe Pena moved up two divisions to 100 kg this year where he lost to eventual champion Erich Munis but then captured the open division in controversial fashion. His scheduled opponent in the finals, Nicholas Meregali, was disqualified from the event after giving the middle finger to an audience member during an earlier match.

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