2023 The IBJJF Crown Presented by FloGrappling

Roosevelt Sousa betting on his leglocks and mind games to win at The Crown

Roosevelt Sousa betting on his leglocks and mind games to win at The Crown

The ultra heavyweight bracket promises high-octane action with Roosevelt, Erich Munis, João Gabriel and Victor Honorio

Nov 17, 2023 by Carlos Arthur Jr.
Roosevelt Sousa betting on his leglocks and mind games to win at The Crown

With five weight divisions and top-notch athletes to fill their ranks, IBJJF The Crown is set to be a well-rounded spectacle for fight fans, but the true clash of titans will come about in the heaviest category of the invitational tournament. 

Scheduled to take place on Nov. 19, in Long Beach, CA, the event will feature four athletes in each group, with Roosevelt Sousa joining the heavier division alongside the likes of Erich Munis, Victor Honório, and João Gabriel Rocha.

For Sousa, who will represent Fight Sports at the tournament, the invitation to take part in the GP marks his rise to stand among the best of his division. Ready to go toe-to-toe against the ultra heavy powerhouses, he looks back fondly at the roads he traveled to earn the IBJJF invitation. 

After making a name for himself as a brown belt, Sousa was unable to enter the USA for a few years due to an oversight by his lawyers in the immigration process. Now with everything worked out, the Brazilian currently lives in Miami and enters each of his fights determined to make up for the time he lost, leading him to rise as one of the best and most exciting athletes in his division. 

With The Crown drawing closer, Sousa talked about his expectations for the tournament, his thoughts on the opponents in the stacked GP, and how his dangerous game of foot attacks and his mental stability stand to propel him to victory in the Walter Pyramid. Check it out below!

FLOGRAPPLING: How did it feel to be selected an elite tournament like The Crown?

ROOSEVELT SOUSA: I was honored to be chosen by the IBJJF among the best of the very tough Ultra Heavyweight division. Everyone dreams of being one of the best and now it's my turn. 

Three opponents will be prepared to face you. What can you say about them and how do you plan to use your game to gain the upper hand in such a stacked category?

The ultra-heavyweight division is the most interesting in the event. Erich Munis is a great athlete who knows how to fight well within the rules, it's very difficult to see him make mistakes. Victor Honorio and João Gabriel have a very similar game, with variations in takedowns and very dangerous passes. I respect my opponents and I know their qualities, but besides my strong game, what sets me apart is the mental aspect. I'm sure that my resolve to win will help me set the flow of the fight until I emerge victorious.

You couldn't enter the US for a while. Do you think this hindered your exposure to the international Jiu-Jitsu scene? What have you been doing to make up for the lost time?

I kept training and fighting hard. I lived in Abu Dhabi for almost two years and had contact with my master Iuri Alves, who lives there. There are high-level competitions all over the world, but the USA is the great power in this matter and that's why I came back to live here. I have competed as much as I can to be among the best. Working effectively with social media is also a must to expose your image, as big events don't want just champions, but athletes who have interesting images and personalities.

A solid game of foot and leg attacks sets you apart from other fighters. Did you pursue this specialization?

I learned a straight footlock as a white belt and went to fight in the Brasileiro. I used this submission to take the gold medal and saw that I had a knack for it. I kept practicing and learning new details and adjustments with different people over the years until I managed to create my own style.

Now living in the USA, what do you think is the biggest difference between the Brazilian and the American game when it comes to leg attacks?

Here in the USA, No-gi is much bigger than Jiu-Jitsu in the gi, so the athletes are very good in the standing game using the  wrestling and in the guard using leg attacks. The main difference between Americans and us Brazilians is that they have a culture of studying Jiu-Jitsu a lot, buying online courses, and specializing. On the other hand, Brazilians have an easier time with the mechanics of the fight, so they use positions more instinctively. That way, while a good Brazilian athlete can work with five or six footlock variations, Americans can do around twenty.

IBJJF's The Crown: Presented by Flograppling
Walter Pyramid, Long Beach-CA
November 19th, 2023

Men's Featherweight (70kg/154.3lbs)

  • Fabricio Andrey, IBJJF World Champion
  • Isaac Doederlein, IBJJF World Champion
  • Samuel Nagai, IBJJF World Champion
  • Diego Pato Oliviera, IBJJF World Champion

Men's Middleweight (82.4kg/181.4lbs)

  • Andy Murasaki, 2-time IBJJF Worlds Finalist & Pans Finalist
  • Tainan Dalpra, 2-time IBJJF World Champion & 3-time Pans Champion
  • Pedro Maia, IBJJF Worlds & Pans Finalist
  • Mauricio Oliveira, IBJJF Brasileiro Champion

Men's Heavyweight (94.3kg/207.9lbs)

  • Fellipe Andrew, 2023 IBJJF World Champion, 4-time Pans Champion
  • Gustavo Batista, 3-Time IBJJF World Champion, 4-time Pan Champion
  • Francisco Lo, 2023 No-Gi Pan Champion
  • Uanderson Ferreira, 2023 IBJJF Sul Americano Champion

Men's Ultra-Heavyweight (Unlimited)

  • Erich Munis, 3-time World Champion, 2023 World Absolute Runner-Up
  • Joao Gabriel Rocha, 2-time Pan Champion, 3-time World Medalist
  • Roosevelt Sousa, 2023 Pans Medalist
  • Victor Honorio, European Champion, Brasileiro Champion

Women's Lightweight (64kg/141.1lbs)

  • Janaina Lebre, 2022 IBJJF Grand Prix champion & 2-time IBJJF World Finalist
  • Nathalie Ribeiro, 2-time IBJJF Worlds Medalist & 2-time IBJJF Pans Champion
  • Brianna Ste-Marie, IBJJF Worlds Medalist
  • Luiza Monteiro, 2-time IBJJF World Champion & 9-time Pans Champion

Women's Super-Heavyweight (Unlimited)

  • Gabi Pessanha, 6-time IBJJF World Champion
  • Amy Campo, IBJJF World Champion
  • Melissa Stricker, 2-time IBJJF World Champion
  • Tayane Porfirio, 2-time IBJJF World Champion