ADCC 2011 – Preview

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Every two years, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club’s Submission Wrestling World Championships crowns the best grapplers in the world. Created by Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and originally hosted in United Arab Emirates, the ADCC was developed as a method of showcasing the best grappling on the planet regardless of the style practiced. The ruleset was supposed to adhere more closely to that of a true fight than the Jiu Jitsu rules at the time, with a greater emphasis on takedowns and the allowance of leg locks including heel hooks. With a few major exceptions, though, the tournament has been a showcase of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has to offer.

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Best of ADCC – Highlight 

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Best of ADCC 2009 – Highlight

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This year’s iteration of ADCC kicks off on September 24, 2011. From where I’m sitting that’s less than a week away. While the tournament has had several notable competitors drop out, there’s still a formidable list of grapplers who will be showing up in Nottingham, England to vie for the substantial prize money on the line. Let’s get familiar with the competitors:

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The <65 kg category was one of the most exciting during ADCC 2009. Effectively acting at the light-featherweight category, many of the featured competitors usually cut from over 70 kg, so the new weight cutting restrictions should be a factor in the strategies in this category. Rafael Mendes took the title in what was his first appearance in the tournament against fellow first-timer Cobrinha. While we’ve seen major improvements from the Americans Jeff Glover and Ryan Hall this year it probably won’t be enough to overcome Mendes, Cobrinha or 2007 champ Rani Yahya. Favorite to win: Rafael Mendes. 

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With the current <76 kg champion, Pablo Popovitch, moving up a weight class the field appears to be a one man show. Marcelo Garcia is a three-time title holder in this division and had submitted Popovitch in 2005 and 2007. He has also previously beaten Santana and Calasans with the gi and Kron at ADCC 2009. But appearances can be deceiving. Santana and Calasans both have strong n0-gi styles that will be a lot of trouble for Garcia should they meet in Nottingham. Tanquino, while one of the best featherweights in the world, is likely too small for this field. Davi Ramos, while not invited, would have to have been a serious consideration to podium (if not win outright). Enricco Coco is another strong contender and would do well against anyone in the division, but just doesn’t seem to be up to the caliber of Calasans or Garcia.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Calasans takes in this year, but I have to fall back on past results for my prediction. Favorite to win: Marcelo Garcia. 

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The <87.9 kg category is a scary place. Galvao, Lovato, Popovitch, Barral and Nelson all have the ability to take the field in one of the most stacked divisions at ADCC 2011. The current champion, Braulio Estima, is fighting Jacare Souza in a superfight due to his absolute win in 2009, leaving runner-up Galvao as the most likely to win at under 87.9 kg. However, Galvao’s Jiu Jitsu record has been spotty since devoting himself to MMA, and he’ll have a big test in Popovitch. Popovitch meanwhile will have to contend with competition who he won’t be able to bully around since he’s moved up from the 76 kg division. Lovato is fresh off a major win at the Abu Dhabi World Pro no-gi, beating the current world champ, Rodolfo Vieira. I’m going to have to go with a conservative prediction in this one with the caveat that this is one of the most wide-open fields in years. Favorite to win: Andre Galvao.

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The <99kg category has some serious up-and-coming talent that threatens to overcome the old guard. My top picks for the penultimate weight division have never competed at ADCC before. “Batista” Peinado, Joao Assis and Rodolfo Vieira should all be on the podium. You can never count out Xande Ribeiro, but the Humatia fighter hasn’t been as much of a  force in Jiu Jitsu since attempting to cross over to MMA. We lost the favorite for the division, Roger Gracie, to MMA since his loss by KO in Strikeforce, and Robert Drysdale is also out. It remains to be seen how Assis recovers from his loss to Davi Ramos at Grappler’s Quest. It looked like his knee took some serious damage - otherwise I’d pick him to win. The Alliance black belt Antonio “Batista” Peinado has the ability to beat anyone in the world, but does he have the experience to win the world’s best submission grappling tournament? Meanwhile, Rodolfo came in second at his weight and first in the absolute at the Adu Dhabi World Pro no-gi without really training without a kimono. With some serious no-gi training with GF Team the young champion could be a force to be reckoned with for a very long time at ADCC. Favorite to win: Rodolfo Vieira.

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The big boys are ready to go after the >99 kg category. Werdum, Vella, “Cyborg” Abreu, Magalhaes and “Lagarto” Rodrigues are all very strong competitors with a shot at the podium. Cyborg’s been fighting through a variety of major injuries this year and looked flat at the Mundials. Vella stands an outside chance if he comes in in shape. This leaves former over 99 kg champion Werdum and up-and-comer Vinny Maglhaes to battle it out for first. I think the more-experienced and larger Werdum will take a direct match up, but who knows how the brackets will pan out. Will we even see this match up? Favorite to win: Fabrcio Werdum. 

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The female competitors are only separated into two categories, which tends to put many great competitors at a major disadvantage. Still, it wasn’t until 2005 that women were even in the tournament at all, so hopefully the female side of the competition will continue to evolve to provide a fair playing field for all involved. I’m particularly excited to see Michele Nicolini, Kyra Gracie  and Luanaa Alzuguir in the <60 kg category and think they will medal in that order. There are some tough women in the >60 kg category, but I don’t think anyone can overcome the size of Gabby Garcia. Unfortunately it looks like standouts Weilbacher, Thomas and Staack will be fighting for second place. Favorites to win: Luanaa Alzuguir and Gabby Garcia.

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Who wins? The fans. But seriously, Sperry and Braulio should take this. Sperry is much bigger and I can see his style shutting down a very game Renzo Gracie. Estima, while phenomenal in 2009, has lost to Jacare four times. But Jacare hasn’t competed in Jiu Jitsu in five years and is coming off a five-round MMA loss in Strikeforce. However, this match should come down to wrestling and it remains to be seen how much Braulio has improved since 2009 working with Georges St. Pierre and Pablo Popovitch.

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Details you need to know: 

What: ADCC 2011 Submission Wrestling World Championship

Where: Nottingham, England

When: September 24, 25th – 12pm BST (4am on the West Coast of Canada and U.S.)

How to Watch: Live streaming at BudoVideos.

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5 Comments

Filed under Jiu Jitsu Stuff

5 responses to “ADCC 2011 – Preview

  1. Great article dave as usual! Anyone happen to know what that sub is at 1:49 in the second video? looks like a guillotine with a s-grip?

  2. Stoked that you like it Birinder! That’s Leo Vieira guillotining Ryan Hall in the under 65 kg category from 2009. I don’t think he used an S-grip but what’s become known as the Marcelo Guillotine – I covered the details of the choke here, and would be more than happy to show you some cool setups next time your at Dynamic!

  3. Update: Gabriel Vella is out (+99 kg)

    Glover Teixeira confirmed ADCC 2011 +99kg

    (Source: ADCC FaceBook page)

  4. awesome writeup. great look at the different fields. i forgot about rodolfo and lovato’s match at the world pro no gi. gonna to rewatch it now, thanks.

  5. More updates:
    Jeremy Umphries is out and his place will take Nicolas Renier at <66 kg.
    Paulo Filho is out due to injury at <87 kg.

    Edit: Antonio Braga Neto in -99kg!

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