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It’s been a good year for Atos Jiu-Jitsu. Team champions at Pans and Worlds in 2017, they will return to No-Gi Worlds this weekend to claim a title they won in 2016.
Atos have 11 black belts competing in the adult male and female divisions at the tournament, which takes place in Anaheim, CA, on Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17.
Here's a look at the medal chances for Atos' black belts in each division.
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BLACK / Adult / Male / Rooster
The only Atos rep at rooster weight is Kristian Woodmansee. But in a division in which nine-time world no-gi champion Caio Terra rules supreme, the odds on Woodmansee pulling it off are incredibly slim.
BLACK / Adult / Male / Feather
Pablo Mantovani fought his way through a fourth-place finish at the 2017 ADCC World championships, so this featherweight scrapper has already proven he can hang with the big guns in elite no-gi tournaments.
Pablo Mantovani. All photos by Bane Visnjic — follow him on Instagram.
A solid wrestler, Mantovani is hard to score on. ADCC rules are vastly different to IBJJF though, and success in one does not equate to success in another. Some of the big names signed up in the division include IBJJF specialists Gianni Grippo and Osvaldo "Queixinho." A gold medal here would be a huge feat for Mantovani.
BLACK / Adult / Male / Middle
The middleweight division is one of the deepest and toughest categories in the tournament. Atos will field two competitors at middleweight, including last year’s medium-heavyweight champ Josh Hinger, who will drop to 175.5lb in an attempt to make it two in a row. Also in at middle is underrated technician Michael Liera Jr., and while he’s known more as a gi specialist he will be an equally dangerous addition to an already-stacked roster.
Michael Liera Jr.
Hinger has the better chance of the two in winning gold given that he won last year at a higher weight category. His confidence is sky high right now, as he stated that his intention was to seek out the deepest division rather than the easiest path to gold.
BLACK / Adult / Male / Medium-Heavy
There may only be 11 competitors in the medium-heavyweight division, but don’t be deceived — the talent level is off the charts. The entrants include Aussie hot shot Craig Jones, Alliance scrapper Isaque Bahiense, veteran grinder Murilo Santana, funny man Kit Dale, crusher Charles Negromonte, and the dark horse Diego Ramalho.
Atos will be entering one of their top stars in technical wizard Keenan Cornelius, who definitely counts among the favorites to win the division. Keep an eye on this category, as the brackets will dictate everything. But 2014 World No-Gi champ Cornelius is an almost certainty to be seen on the podium.
BLACK / Adult / Male / Heavy
Atos will send two of their heavyweight troops to No-Gi Worlds in the form of Michael Perez and Mike Carbullido. Perez is a brash, fearless grappler who is willing to take on any and all comers.
Carbullido is a fearsome kimura machine who was promoted to black belt only this week! Both are outsiders for gold but can be considered disruptive presences, and neither will make it easy for the bigger names.
BLACK / Adult / Male / Super-Heavy
Lucas "Hulk" Barbosa won gold at medium-heavyweight in 2015 and heavyweight in 2016, and he’s back for a shot at his third No-Gi Worlds title in a third weight division! With such a record Hulk is the clear favorite for gold in a division that only has nine entrants.
BLACK / Adult / Male / Ultra-Heavy
The ultra-heavyweight division is always a tough one to call. While there may be a few big names (Cyborg, Jared Dopp, Joao Gabriel Rocha) the nature of big boys going at it means calling a clear winner is never easy. Dany Gerard will be the Atos rep in this eight-man division, and while not an obvious choice as champion he could surprise some people.
BLACK / Adult / Female / Light
Champion as a brown belt in 2016, Heather Raftery will return to No-Gi Worlds as a black belt. Though the division only has four entrants, she competes alongside Michelle Nicolini, Jena Bishop, and Karen Antunes. Raftery is a no-gi specialist and would be only one win away from a silver medal at worst.