You Voted For The Winners Of The FloGrappling Awards, Here They Are...

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The votes are in and the winners have been decided in the FloGrappling 2016 end of year awards. 

People from around the world cast a total of over 34,000 votes across 13 categories, making this the first time jiu-jitsu fans have had a chance to honor the athletes in such a fashion. 

Scroll down to discover the winners of The FloGrappling 2016 Awards... 


Male Black Belt of the Year: Leandro Lo

2016 was an incredible year for Leandro Lo, the man you voted for as Male Black Belt of the Year. 

Let's just take a look at his achievements…  

• A three-time Copa Podio Grand Prix winner at three different weight classes (lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight). 
• IBJJF Pan champion 
• Abu Dhabi World Pro champion 
• IBJJF World champion 

It was a nearly flawless 12 months for Lo, who captured fans' hearts with his aggressive game and entertaining style. 

With good reason, Leandro Lo took almost a third of the entire votes, beating out the likes of Marcus Buchecha (2nd) and Garry Tonon (3rd) to be crowned the FloGrappling 2016 Male Black Belt of the Year. 

• Leandro Lo 
• Marcus Buchecha Almeida 
• Gabriel Arges 
• Garry Tonon 
• Rafael Mendes 
• Marcio Andre 


Female Black Belt of the Year: Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern already had the respect and the hearts of the jiu-jitsu world, so it's no surprise that she adds the title of Female Black Belt of the Year to her resume. 

IBJJF European, Pan and World champion, Dern also picked up a number of high profile superfight wins and went 2-0 in MMA. 

Always entertaining, endlessly positive, aggressive during matches and humble off the mat, Dern's rise to the top of the jiu-jitsu world is marked with her being named FloGrappling 2016 Female Black Belt of the Year. 

• Mackenzie Dern 
• Andresa Correa 
• Gezary Matuda 
• Dominyka Obelenyte
• Nathiely de Jesus 
• Beatriz Mesquita 


Gi Match of the Year: Leandro Lo vs Erberth Santos 

A thrilling encounter that was the final match of the Copa Podio MIddleweight Grand Prix, this battle was dramatic, fun, close-fought and exciting -- much as you would expect should Leandro and Erberth meet! The result was such that you decided it worthy of the title of the best Gi Match of the Year. 

• Leandro Lo vs Erberth Santos @ Copa Podio Middleweight Grand Prix 
• Nicholas Meregali vs Isaque Bahiense @ IBJJF World Championships 
• Felipe Pena vs Erberth Santos @ IBJJF European Championships 
• Dillon Danis vs Patrick Gaudio @ Copa Podio Lightweight Grand Prix 
• Marcio Andre vs Rubens Charles Maciel @ IBJJF World Championships 
• Romulo Barral vs Patrick Gaudio @ IBJJF World Championships


No-Gi Match of the Year: Garry Tonon vs Rousimar Palhares 

Though officially a draw, many fans believe Garry Tonon to be the spiritual winner in this incredible contest. Palhares tossed the much smaller Tonon around, but the American black belt would just bounce back up and immediately counterattack, making this a thrilling and captivating match and your choice for best No-Gi Match of the Year. 

• Garry Tonon vs Rousimar Palhares @ Polaris 3 
• Lucas Pinheiro vs Joao Pedro @ Fight to Win Pro 17 
• Garry Tonon vs Enrico Coco @ Grappling Pro Championships 
• Jeff Glover vs Justin Rader @ Fight to Win Pro 11 
• Murilo Santana vs Marcel Goncalves @ IBJJF No-Gi Worlds 
• Mahamed Aly vs Jared Dopp @ Grappling Pro Championships


Gi Submission of the Year: Mackenzie Dern choke vs Michelle Nicolini  

Dern's omoplata-choke submission finish of Michelle Nicolini was a true standout moment from the IBJJF 2016 World Championships, made all the more impressive when you consider Dern used it to submit the multiple-time world champion in the final of the featherweight division --  a suitable choice for Gi Submission of the Year. 

• Mackenzie Dern's omoplata/choke vs Michelle Nicolini @ IBJJF World Championships 
• Felipe Pena's choke vs Erberth Santos @ IBJJF European Championships 
• Gabriel Arges' kneebar vs Claudio Calasans @ IBJJF World Championships 
• Rafael Mendes's armbar vs Osvaldo Moizinho @ IBJJF World Championships 
• Marcus Almeida's armbar vs Joao Gabriel Rocha @ IBJJF World Championships
• Osvaldo Moizinho's loop choke vs Marcio Andre @ IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship


No Gi Submission of the Year: Felipe Pena rear naked choke vs Gordon Ryan 

The build-up and anticipation of this submission-only battle did not disappoint. It couldn't have ended in a more decisive fashion, with Pena taking the back and Ryan and submitting him via rear naked choke. The leglock defense, the lightning fast back take, the finishing submission hold... Add it up and it becomes your choice for No-Gi Submission of the Year. 

• Felipe Pena's Rear Naked Choke vs Gordon Ryan @ Studio 540 Super Fight Series 
• Jake Shields' Heelhook vs Lyoto Machida @ Fight to Win
• Garry Tonon's Heelhook vs Dustin Akbari @ Fight to Win Pro 8 
• Luiz Panza's Calf Crush vs Jared Dopp @ IBJJF No-Gi World Championships 
• Renato Canuto's Flying Armbar vs Bill Cooper @ Proving Grounds Invitational 
• Justin Rader's Decapi-Rader vs Scott Yockel @ ADCC North American Trails 


Best Comeback of the Year: Felipe Pena vs Erberth Santos 

Anybody who saw this match at the 2016 European Championships asked the same thing. How did Felipe Pena escape that armbar? Erberth Santos had the arm fully stretched but Pena rose to the occasion and gritted through it, later coming back to submit Santos with a choke from the back. His incredible performance in this match made it your choice for Comeback of the Year. 

• Felipe Pena vs. Erberth Santos @ IBJJF European Championships 
• Gabriel Arges vs. Manuel Ribamar @ IBJJF World Championships 
• Josh Hinger vs. John Combs @ IBJJF Chicago Open 
• Saulo Ribeiro vs. Christiano Lazzarini @ IBJJF Masters World Championships 
• Romulo Barral vs. Patrick Gaudio @ IBJJF World Championships 
• Dillon Danis vs. Josh Hinger @ IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships


Biggest Moment: Buchecha Wins Double Gold At Worlds 

Fortitude. Perseverance. Determination. Whatever it was that took Marcus 'Buchecha' Almeida from a career-threatening injury to a double gold comeback win at the IBJJF World Championships, it was one of those rare moments that jiu-jitsu fans can look back on as a true defining moment of the sport. 

A catastrophic knee injury at Worlds in 2015 saw Buchecha sidelined for a entire year. Coming back to action at the same tournament he was stretched out from 12 months earlier, the ultra heavyweight champion showed no signs of rust as he smashed and submitted his way to gold. 

An incredible story of bravery and overcoming adversity, Buchecha's iconic performance was voted for by you as the Biggest Moment of 2016. 

• Buchecha Wins Double Gold At Worlds 
• Leandro Lo Wins the Copa Podio Triple Crown 
• Saulo Ribeiro's Comeback At Masters Worlds 
• AJ Agazarm & Vagner Rocha's Rivalry Comes To Blows At F2WP10 
• Felipe Pena Dethrones Gordon Ryan At Studio 540 
• Gutemberg Pereira vs Roberto Jimenez @ Royal Invitational 


Upset of the Year: Gordon Ryan vs Keenan Cornelius

The no-time limit, submission-only match between Gordon Ryan and Keenan Cornelius turned into an epic 90-minute battle. 

Gordon Ryan’s fight-finishing heel hook was, along with his multiple EBI wins, one of the key factors in his rise to public prominence this year. 

You saw his victory as more than just a step up the ladder though – the win that put his name among the black belt elite was deemed significant enough to be called Upset of the Year. 


Most Promising Black Belt of the Year: Dillon Danis

Few black belt's stock has risen faster in 2016 than that of Dillon Danis. Trained by Marcelo Garcia (one of the GOAT jiu-jitsu competitors) and a training partner and friend of UFC superstar Conor McGregor, Danis is a badass black belt with legions of fans. 

He is a submission hunter with an all-out style of attack. Danis has solid wrestling, great passing and a dangerous guard. He dives on submissions from every angle. He talks the talk and walks the walk. 

At times enigmatic but always intriguing, Dillon Danis's social media is a look into a crazy life. When not riding with Conor he's hanging out with J-Lo, basketball player, celebrity chefs or rock stars. 

Fans believe there is more to Danis than just hype, which is why you chose him as the Most Promising Black Belt of 2016. 


• Dillon Danis 
• Edwin Najmi 
• Mikey Musumeci 
• Gabriel Arges 
• John Combs 
• Gordon Ryan 


Masters Black Belt of the Year: Rafael Lovato Jr

Few black belts can claim to have had a year as successful as Rafael Lovato Jr., one of the most successful American jiu-jitsu competitors of all time. 

Undefeated in 2016, Lovato Jr. competed in gi, no-gi and even MMA, securely marking himself out as the top black belt over 30 years of age in the world. 

With three superfight victories on Fight To Win, a gold medal at IBJJF Masters Worlds two MMA fights and more, Lovato Jr. was unanimously chosen by you as the FloGrappling 2016 Masters Black Belt of the Year. 

• Rafael Lovato Jr 
• Saulo Ribeiro 
• Wellington ' Megaton' Dias 
• Bruno Bastos 
• Flavio Almeida 
• Vitor 'Shaolin' Ribeiro 


Brown Belt of the Year: Nicholas Meregali 

We've been calling him 'king of the brown belts' all year, but it seems you shared our opinion of Alliance athlete Nicholas Meregali, who received his black belt on December 10. 

2016 was a huge year for Meregali, who took double gold at nearly every major gi competition (Euros, Pans, Worlds and World Pro) and became the #1 brown belt in the UAEJJF rankings. 

Meregali even stepped up to compete at the Copa Podio Middleweight Grand Prix, which gave us a taste what he's capable of against some of the best in the world. 

As Nicholas Meregali prepares for the new phase of his career as a black belt competitor, he does so having been named the FloGrappling 2016 Brown Belt of the Year. 

• Nicholas Meregali 
• Isaque Bahiense 
• Bianca Basilio 
• Renato Canuto 
• Horlando Monteiro 
• Gutemberg Perreira 


Prospect of the Year: Thalison Soares 

Blue belts need to be extra special to attract the attention of the international jiu-jitsu community, and Thalison Soares is very special indeed. 

Owner of a gnarly guard and a quiet work ethic that has carried him to the top of many podiums, Soares is a product of the PSLPB Cicero Costha, the same team that produced the hyper-famous Miyao brothers. 

Thalison Soares just completed his second year as a juvenile competitor and will now compete in the adult divisions, an opportunity for him to live up to the promise of being named FloGrappling 2016 Prospect of the Year. 

• Thalison Soares
• Kennedy Maciel 
• Nicky Ryan 
• Roberto Jimenez 
• Tainan Dalpra 
• Andy Murasaki 

Thank you to all the fans who voted! 

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