Jiu Jitsu Laboratory Awards 2011
Competitor of the Year (gi): Rodolfo Vieira
2011 was unquestionably Rodolfo’s year. Rising to prominence in 2009, big things were expected of the young GF Team standout. This year Rodolfo lived up to all expectations taking the Pan-Ams, World-Pro and Worlds at both weight and absolute. Opponent’s like Bernardo Faria,Rafael Lovato Jr., Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida and Antonio Brago Neto just couldn’t keep up with Rodolfo’s guard passing and athleticism, making it clear that he will be a force in the gi for many years to come.
Runners-Up: Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, Rafael Mendes
Competitor of the Year (no-gi): André Galvão
André Galvão’s path to the very pinnacle of Jiu Jitsu was a roundabout one. Winning every tournament in existence on his way through the belt ranks André appeared unstoppable – until he ran into the immovable object that is Marcelo Garcia. Then, after a series of disappointments including a rough start to his MMA career and being on the receiving end of 2009′s submission of the year at the hands of Braulio Estima, Galvão came into 2011 re-energized and re-focused, winning the Pan ams and giving a near-flawless performance at ADCC 2011. His weight and absolute victories at ADCC over the likes of Pablo Popovitch, Gunnar Nelson and Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares make Galvão the standout without a gi in 2011.
Runners-Up: Rafael Mendes, Rafael Lovato Jr.
Female Competitor of the Year: Gabrielle Garcia
Leading up to these awards I asked the knowledgeable folks at one of the major grappling forums who they thought should win the major categories. I agreed with almost all of the feedback with one exception. It seems that almost no one wants to give Gabrielle Garcia her due. Many feel that due to her size and strength Gabi has an unfair advantage. But Gabby didn’t make the weight classes, and it’s impossible to argue with her results: ADCC champion, World champion, Pan Champion. 2011 was the year of Gabi in the female division.
Runners-Up: Luanna Alzuguir, Michelle Nicolini
Lifetime Achievement Award: Marcelo Garcia
What do you do when the best keeps getting better? Marcelo Garcia is still young (depressingly, he’s the same age as I am), but his career accomplishments seem to belong to a much older competitor. Garcia would have already been a Jiu Jitsu hall-of-fame member many times over even if he sat out the 2011 competition season. But thankfully for fans of Jiu Jitsu he did not. Taking the Worlds middleweight and ADCC lightweight divisions, Marcelo displayed a rare dominance over opponents such as Leo Vieira, Kron Gracie, Victor Estima and Lucas Leite. This performance makes Marcelinho the only four-time ADCC champion and a five-time World champion.
Rookie of the Year: Leandro Lo
Rookie of the Year is awarded to a recently-awarded black belt that shows potential to be one of the best in their divisions. One of the most exciting prospects at lightweight, Leandro Lo had some major victories in 2011 that put him on the short-list of potential future champions. Most recently Lo won the Copa Podio Lightweight Grand Prix in December 2011, with victories over Denilson Pimento, Ed Ramos, and Cláudio Caloquinha. Beating world champion Michael Langhi in April of 2011 put Lo on the map. His exciting style and frequent tournament victories are expected to keep him there.
Runners-Up: Davi Ramos, Zak Mawell
Additional awards include:
Competition of the Year: ADCC 2011; Runner-Up: Abu Dhabi Pro Jiu Jitsu Cup 2011
Academy of the Year: Atos Jiu Jitsu; Runner-Up: Alliance/Marcelo Garcia NYC
Instructor of the Year: Fabio Gurgel; Runner-Up: Lloyd Irvin
Guard of the Year: Rafael Mendes
Guard Passing of the Year: Rodolfo Vieira
Never in a Boring Match Award: Claudio Calasans
Adamantium Legs Award: Robson Moura
Maybe Next Year Award: Romulo Barral
Impossible to Dislike Award: Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu
Biggest Team Jump: Ryan Hall to Alliance; Runner-Up: Durinho Burns to Team Vitor Belfort
Invisible Man Award: Roger Gracie
Most Obnoxious Jiu Jitsu Trend: Pre-order gi’s; Runners-Up: Double guard pulls, leg-reap DQs
New Academy We’re Most Excited About: Xande Ribeiro LA
Team to Watch Out For: Cicero Costha
Comeback of the Year: Dean Lister; Runner-Up: Lucio “Lagarto” Rodriguez
Most Improved Player Award: Jeff Glover
Most Annoying Technique Name: Berimbolo; Runner-Up: “Kiss of the Dragon”
Biggest “Fuck-Yeah” Moment: Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes defeating the Atos team at Abu Dhabi Pro 2011
Match of the Year: Rodolfo vs. Calasans – Worlds 2011; Runner Up: Rafael vs. Guilherme Mendes Abu Dhabi Pro No-Gi 2011
Submission of the Year: Rafael Mendes – inverted omoplata to armbar to back, RNC on Justin Rader ADCC 2011
Submission-Escape of the Year: Vinny Mag escaping Werdum’s armbar ADCC 2011; Runner-Up: Marcelo Garcia escaping Kron’s guillotine ADCC 2011
Fightwear/Apparel of the Year: Scramble
Most Awesome Jiu Jitsu Fans Award: Tie: Readers of The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory, Fans at ADCC 2011, Nottingham
Note: As 2011 winds down I want to thank everyone who has read, shared and commented on The Jiu Jitsu Lab. You guys and gals are what makes this whole thing fun. On a personal note I would like to thank my coaches and teammates at Dynamic for another great year of training. – David