Photos: John Cooper
There was a number of standouts at the 2010 Las Vegas International Open and the American National No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Black belt Rodrigo Teixeira from Carvalho – Teixeira fought in both the gi and no-gi categories. The middleweight fought two matches in his adult gi division, taking on Rafael Barbosa from Best Way/Soul Fighter in the final, which he won by points, earning him a gold medal.
In the no-gi middleweight division he won his first match against Joe Scarola of Gracie Barra Long Island, but lost his final by points. Although Teixeira took home a gold and a silver medal, he was somewhat disappointed in his performance. “I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be,” Teixeira said, “My Jiu-Jitsu was not technically 100%.” Teixeira, who competes regularly, says he’s been training in the gi with Kron Gracie for the last month.
Like most fighters concurred throughout the day, fighting in the desert left many feeling dehydrated. “Today was tough,” Teixeira says, “I feel really dry, but you have to strategize how to win a fight, even when you’re not in tip-top shape.”
In the adult heavyweight gi division Flavio Almeida of Gracie Barra San Clemente and Rafael Lovato of Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu ended up in the finals together and it was quite a match to watch. At one point, Lovato allowed Almeida to open his guard, but he didn’t have good grips, so Almeida jumped to side-control and ended up taking Lovato’s back, locking in a body triangle.
“I’ve been struggling with controlling the back,” Almeida said, “So my brother taught me the body triangle. I could relax my grips and get the choke in.” Which he did, tapping Lovato out to become the 2010 heavy weight gold medal winner.
When it was over, Almeida said he was surprised to have won by submission, “I came here to win, no question, but when you fight really tough guys – Lovato’s in the top 10 – you expect to win by an advantage or a point. He made a mistake and I was lucky enough to capitalize on it.”
The two met up again in the divisional heavyweight no-gi final. The match was a rough one, with each of them holding nothing back. Almeida emerged as the victor once again, taking home two gold medals for the day.
In the black belt masters/heavyweight division, Gustavo Pires, of Gracie Barra Mission Viejo, won both the gi and no gi categories. In the gi category, he had one match against Walter Vital of Cascao. Pires easily submitted him within the first minute of the match to take gold in his division.
In the masters gi absolute, Pires had two byes because a competitor didn’t show up, then one final match against Ranieri Paiva de Albuquerque from X3 Sports. Pires submitted Albuquerque by arm bar to take home gold in the gi open class.
Without the gi, Pires competed in the adult division in his heavyweight division. He took on Diego Herzog in his first match and beat him by points. “Diego is a very good fighter,” he says. At that point, Pires, who has a history of high blood pressure, discovered it was 160/90. He had to stop competing and stepped out to let Almeida and Lovato compete in the final, thus ending his day with a bronze medal in the no-gi adult/heavy division. Pires said it was a long day, but he was happy with his performance. “I’m glad I came,” he said.
In ultra-heavyweigth adult category, Stephen “Pesadelo” Hall from Alliance took gold in his division against Fabiano Lima Monteiro of Brazilian Top Team. At 39 years of age, he says he has to travel to find guys in his age group to fight, so he usually fights in the adult division. Hall, who is currently looking for a sponsor, says, “Next year I will be the oldest guy to medal at the Mundials in the adult division at 40!”
“I was disappointed in my showing at the Masters/Seniors in Rio this year,” Hall says, “I came in 3rd, but won it last year.” One good thing came out of it for him, “I’m happy to be the first black belt to medal in both the International Masters/Seniors and the Rio Open in the same year as a black belt.”
Luciano Cristovam, a medium heavyweight brown belt from Roger Gracie Academy in London, represented his school well. Cristovam, who is an instructor for Roger and Mauricio Gracie, arrived in New York in June to train at Renzo’s Academy and to compete at some of the tournaments around the country.
Cristovam won gold in the medium heavyweight gi division, winning both his matches by submission. He had one fight in the medium heavyweight no-gi division and won it by submission as well. In the no-gi absolute, he had two fights. “I won the first by points,” he says, “And the second with a katagatami – a head and arm choke.”
“My no-gi final in the open was really tough,” Cristovam says, “He was a super heavyweight and I knew if I made a mistake, he would smash me!” Cristovam hung on, took his back, and as he turned, he got mount, then the katagatami.
After clinching three gold medals for the day, Cristovam says he owes his wins to Rolles, Igor, and Gregor Gracie, who helped him a lot with his no-gi training. “Thanks to all the Renzo Gracie guys for helping me and Ricardo Almeida, too,” he says, “Roger and Mauricio taught me everything I know.”
In the women’s division, medium heavyweight blue belt Jessica Eve Richer from Gracie Barra Long Island stormed the scene competing every chance she got. She had six matches in one day, the most she says she’s ever fought.
In the medium heavyweight gi division, Richer had a default win because there were no competitors in her weight class. Richer says she doesn’t consider that a true “win” so she was excited to compete in the absolute.
In the gi absolute, Richer had three matches. She won the first by americana from mount, the second on points, and the final against Saera Kim of Alliance by collar choke. Richer said her matches were tough, “I lost 10 pounds yesterday and because I’m fighting gi and no-gi, I have to weigh in twice today.” But Richer was having a great time saying, “This is a great tournament. I love IBJJF events. You always get to fight the top competitors in the country.”
In the no-gi contest, Richer was a little nervous because she had to fight blue and purple belts, but she did well, winning her first match against Lenna Uhlinger of Yemaso BJJ and then losing the final by advantage points to Megan Nevill of X3 Sports. That earned her a silver in her no-gi division. “It was a close match. I played out of my comfort zone, trying new moves I was working on. I was really impressed with Nevill. She was very strong and tough.”
In the no gi absolute, Richer fought Margarita Chavez from GB New Mexico. It was her first match and didn’t go as planned. “I defended her trying to pull guard,” Richer says, “She climbed up my body and wrapped herself around my neck. I tried to slowly take it to the ground, but she came down faster than I intended and they called it a “slam” and disqualified me.” Richer says she fell forward a bit because Chavez was pulling on her neck. “I think she might have been going for an ezekiel choke.”
The match was ended after about 30 seconds, leaving Richer surprised by the outcome. “I guess they were calling things on the conservative side that day,” she says. Richer says she takes every loss as a working experience and wants to go back to the gym and fix her mistakes. “All the girls were very athletic and great competitors,” she says, “Overall, it was a great experience and worth the trip out from New York.”
Las Vegas Open (Gi):
1. Gracie Barra
2. Nova Uniao
3. Brazilian Top Team
1. Gracie Barra
2. Team Mica
3. Nova Uniao