American Nationals Preview: 8 Things To Get Excited About

American Nationals Preview: 8 Things To Get Excited About

Rematches from the World Finals, stacked brackets, rubber matches, and more will be on the line at the 2023 American National IBJJF Championships

Jul 5, 2023 by Joe Gilpin
American Nationals Preview: 8 Things To Get Excited About

Every year in early July, Americans come together and celebrate the nation with fireworks. I am, of course, referring to IBJJF American Nationals and the dynamic grappling action it brings, as the tournament continues to gain momentum as one of the best mid-majors of the calendar.

All The Action From The 2023 American National IBJJF Championship Will Be Streamed Live On FloGrappling

With many competitors finally rested from the grind of Worlds and refocused on the next season, we start to see top level talent back on the mats. We also begin to see more athletes gearing up for the no-gi season with entries in both styles. Here are 8 things happening this weekend at American Nationals that grappling fans can get excited about:

1. A World Finals Rematch Less Than Two Months Later

No grappler stays busier on the IBJJF circuit than Fellipe Andrew, and that persistance paid off in 2023 with a heavyweight world championship. In the finals, he took on Atos's Pedro Machado and won 2-0 on the strength of a sweep. Now, the two will be in the bracket together this weekend and seem destined for a rematch. After a breakthrough run to the finals, will Machado be able to make the adjustments necessary to overcome Andrew? Will Fellipe be able to put more space between the two? There's no guarantee this will be the finals, with black belts Roberto Jimenez and Italo Lima also in the way.

2. No-Gi Men's Heavyweight Is Stacked

Of all the black belt brackets that will be contested this weekend, men's heavyweight no-gi may be the deepest with talented grapplers. Tune in this weekend and you'll see guys like Elder Cruz, Roberto Jimenez, David Garmo, and Sean Yadimarco facing off. Considering all four (and more in the bracket) bring an action style to the mats, heavyweight looks to be fun and competitive.

3. The Nagai Brothers In Action

The Nagai brothers (Samuel and Jackson) are two of the most dynamic exciting siblings in modern Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and they both showcased that style on the World stage in 2023. In the Pyramid, Sam won gold and Jackson won bronze and did it with upsets and submissions along the way. In the gi, Sam will have a match with Carlos Henrique looming and Jackson will most likely face Eduardo Avalar Carvalho. Jackson is the only of the two entered in no-gi and he may face off with Andy Varela in the semis.

4. No-Gi Lightweight Fireworks

Men's no-gi lightweight has a few fan-favorite grapplers and up-and-comers in the mix, making it a division worth watching. ADCC World Championships veteran Josh Cisneros is entered, and he is seeded to face DreamArt's Carlos Henrique - tho there are athletes like Max Hanson who may play spoiler. Cisneros has had a rough 2023 so far, but American Nationals is a great chance to turn the corner.

5. Liz Clay/Thamara Silva Rubber Match

Elisabeth Clay and Thamara Silva are two of the top female black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and they have developed a healthy rivalry in which they have split matches. Thamara took the first win, a surprising toe hold submission over leg-locker Clay in Fight2Win, and Clay won the rematch by judges decision at this year's Pan Ams. Who will take the edge on the series, now that they are tied 1-1?

6. A Talent Rich Gi Light-Featherweight Division

If you're a fan of dynamic, fast-paced, scramble-heavy Brazilian jiu-jitsu, then the men's gi light-feather division is worth keeping an eye on this weekend. The top four seeds are all capable of putting on a great match, and any combination could be very exciting. They are, in order, Carlos Alberto Oliveira da Silva, Roiter Lima, Zach Kaina, and Rene Lopes, all elite black belt competitors.

7. Roosterweight Rematch From Gi Pans

We will get another likely rematch from 2023 Pans, with Frank Cespedes and Rodnei Barbosa the top two seeds at roosterweight. At Pans, Cespedes pulled the upset to make the podium, beating former World finalist Rodnei by advantages. Now, Barbosa gets his chance at revenge in Las Vegas.

8. Talented Colored Belts Take The Mat

American Nationals can serve as a place for colored belts to debut at their new level or establish themselves as a favorite for the next season with a strong performance. Some of the names to watch at colored belt include Dory Aoun (Brown/Heavy), Mourece Ramirez (Brown/Feather), Francisco Papsidero (Brown/Super-Heavy), Yasmyn Castro (Brown/Light-Feather), Alex Osorio Mendes (Blue/Light-Feather), Felipe Goulart (Blue/Light), Caleb Nascimento (Blue/Ultra-Heavy), Michael Fonacier (Purple/Rooster), Thiago Peixoto (Purple/Light-Feather), and Eliza Nascimento (Purple/Light).