What You Need to Know About the STACKED 2018 World Pro Black Belt Divisions

By Michael Sears 

The 2017-18 UAEJJF season will come to a climax next week at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. 

More than $1 million in cash prizes and the prestige of being a World Pro champion has brought athletes from around the globe to compete in Abu Dhabi on April 24-28. 

Black belt World Pro champions will take home $15,000, with second and third place taking home $8,000 and $5,000, respectively. 

The black belt country qualifiers will take place on Thursday, April 26, with the main brackets on Friday, April 27 and the finals on Saturday, April 28. 

Watch the Abu Dhabi 2018 World Pro

When: April 24-28 | Start time: 1 AM CST daily

56kg looks like Lima’s to lose

Third-ranked overall black belt Jose Lima (Brazil/GFT) is 18-1 in this UAEJJF season, with his only loss coming three weight classes up at 77kg. Lima has won the Grand Slams in Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi, and London so far and should be a heavy favorite to win 56kg at the World Pro. Joao Kuraoka (Japan/Axis) won the Tokyo Grand Slam and is ranked No. 13 but has lost to Lima twice this season.

George looking strongest going into 62kg 

The 62kg Brazil qualifier will likely see a showdown between No. 11-ranked Joao Miyao (Brazil/Cicero Costha) and rookie black belt Pablo Mantovani (Brazil/Atos). The two recently fought in the finals of the 2018 Pans, with Miyao winning on points. Now the pair of Pans finalists will have to fight just to secure a spot in the main bracket at the World Pro. Miyao won the Grand Slams in Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi earlier this season. 

Hiago George (Brazil/Cicero Costha) is currently fourth in the rankings and 100 points behind Jose Lima for the third-place, $5,000 end-of-season prize. He will need gold here and a slip-up from Lima at 56kg to finish in the top three. George has won the London and Rio de Janeiro Grand Slams this season. Tokyo Grand Slam winner Wanki Chae (South Korea/John Frankl) recently took second to George in London, losing by a score of 3-0 in the final.

Grippo vs a dangerous “TBD” at 69kg 

The 69kg Brazil qualifier features eleven athletes and is arguably deeper in talent than the main bracket will be.  Expected to emerge from this qualifier is Paulo Miyao (Brazil/Cicero Costha), Miyao is 8-0 this season and has won the Grand Slams in London and Abu Dhabi. 

Attempting to beat out Paulo for the second Brazil spot will be 2017 world silver medalist and former World Pro champion Leonardo Saggioro (Brazil/BTT), 2017 brown belt world champ and 2018 Rio Grand Slam winner Joao Paulo Goncalves (Brazil/Alliance), Isaque Paiva (Brazil/Saikoo), and Victor Moraes (Brazil/Cicero Costha).

Whoever emerges from the Brazil qualifier will likely have to get past Gianni Grippo (USA/Alliance) to reach the top of the podium. The reigning World Pro champ Grippo is coming off a first-place finish at the 2018 Pans in March.

Stacked 77kg division offers explosive matches

The 77kg division will have the largest number of competitors, with 18 athletes in the main bracket. Brazil, Portugal, and the United States will all have qualifying brackets at the weight, with the Brazilian qualifier being the largest at 10 athletes and including Celso Vinicius (Brazil/X Coach), Servio Tulio (Brazil/Gracie Barra), and Gabriel Rollo (Brazil/Checkmat). Edwin Najmi (USA/Gracie Barra) vs. Thomas Keenan (USA/Soul Fighters) and Pedro Ramalho (Portugal/Focus) vs. Yan Cabral (Portugal/Aranha) will fight for their country’s second spot in the main bracket.

Jaime Canuto (Brazil/GFT) is the highest-ranked competitor in the bracket at eighth overall and recently won the London Grand Slam. Espen Mathiesen (Norway/Kimura), Jonathan Satava (USA/Alliance), Alex Cabanes (Spain/Calasans), Jacob Mackenzie (Canada/GFT), Francisco Iturralde (Ecuador/Del Mar), Lachlan Giles (Australia/Absolute MMA), and Max Lindblad (Sweden/Prana) will join the three qualifying bracket winners in a stacked main bracket.

85kg sees Brazilian qualifying “Group of Death” 

The Brazil country qualifier at 85kg will be a gauntlet, with four-time World Pro champion Claudio Calasans (Brazil/Atos) having to fight through the qualifier in order for a chance to defend his 2017 title in the main bracket. 

Joining Calasans in this country qualifier will be world champion Tarsis Humphreys (Brazil/Alliance), 2017 world silver medalist Patrick Gaudio (Brazil/GFT), and veteran Charles Negromonte (Brazil/Roger Gracie), as well as up-and-comers Gustavo Batista (Brazil/Atos) and Renato Canuto (Brazil/Zenith). The winner of this bracket will join No. 6-ranked Isaque Bahiense (Brazil/Alliance) in the main bracket as the two Brazilian representatives.

Waiting in the main bracket with Bahiense will be USA representatives Clark Gracie (USA/Clark Gracie) and five-time world champion Romulo Barral (USA/Gracie Barra), along with 2017 World Pro runner-up Faisal Al Ketbi (UAE/Team 777) among eight other competitors.

Big guns at 94kg promise fireworks 

The Brazil country qualifier at 94kg has eight athletes vying for the second spot in the main bracket, headlined by three-time World Pro champion Felipe Pena (Brazil/Gracie Barra) and London Grand Slam champion Jackson Sousa (Brazil/Checkmat).

Two of the top five ranked athletes in this UAEJJF season will be waiting in the main bracket with second-ranked Adam Wardzinski (Poland/Checkmat) and fifth-ranked Helton Jose Junior (Brazil/Cicero Costha). Also contending for the 94kg title in Abu Dhabi should be American representatives Tanner Rice (USA/Soul Fighters) and Matthew Leighton (USA/Bonsai).

Silva secure in ranking, but 110kg championship title is anybody’s game

The 110kg Brazil qualifier features 2017 world and 2016 World Pro champion Erberth Santos (Brazil/Guigo), 2016 World Pro champ Ricardo Evangelista (Brazil/Commando Group), and 2017 World bronze medalist Mahamed Aly (Brazil/Lloyd Irvin) fighting it out for the second Brazil spot. Santos is 3-0 in his career against Aly and 1-3 against Evangelista; however, Santos won their most recent meeting.

Igor Silva (Brazil/Commando Group) is running away with the end-of-season $25,000 prize and has amassed enough points this season that he will finish with the top ranking regardless of his performance at the World Pro. 2015 World Pro runner-up Alexander Trans (Denmark/GFT) and Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam winner Gerard Labinski (Poland/NS Brotherhood) should also contend for the title at 110kg.

JT Torres, Yoshida, & Woodmansee To Take The Stage At F2W 90

We've got excellent news: You get to watch JT Torres in action this weekend.  

Stats Prove Heel Hooks Dominate At ADCC Trials

We've crunched the numbers and the answer is clear: if you don't know heel hooks, you're going to lose at ADCC.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloGrappling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

The Weekend Recap: Paulo Miyao Returns To IBJJF Competition & More

The IBJJF’s schedule was stacked across the globe this past weekend and saw tournaments in the U.K., Brazil, and two more events the United States. 

Vagner Rocha Becomes Two-Division F2W Champion

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloGrappling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Fight 2 Win 89: Full Event Replay

Vagner Rocha has done it again.

Garry Tonon To Fight 10th Planet Rep In Next MMA Bout

Danaher Praises Garry Tonon's MMA Debut: 'He's Thinking Long Term'

Decorated jiu-jitsu black belt Garry Tonon, who is undefeated at 2-0 in MMA, now has his next challenge in the cage secure.

Breaking Down the Dillon Danis vs Khabib Incident | A Fistful of Collars

Breaking Down the Dillon Danis vs Khabib Incident | A Fistful Of Collars S2 E11

On this week's show we recap...

Korean Pro Event Spyder is Back with Hulk vs Werdum!

2018 Spyder Invitational BJJ Championship Finals

South Korean professional event Spyder Invitational BJJ Championship is back on November 3, 2018, and they've assembled a cast of World champions, big name black belts and even a former UFC heavyweight champion! 

Rare Footage: Lightweight Brown Belt Gordon Ryan Wins 2015 No-Gi Worlds

We went DEEP into the vault to dig out some super-rare footage of one of the top pound-for-pound grapplers in the world when he was still a brown belt lightweight!

F2W Bringing the Heat To Miami With Vagner Rocha, Tanquinho, & More!

Fight 2 Win is heading to the East Coast jiu-jitsu hotbed of Miami! We'll see representatives from Fightsports, Alliance, and more, including a title bout between Vagner Rocha and August "Tanquinho" Mendes. Make the jump to see the three matches we're most excited for. 

Dante Leon vs. Matheus Lutes Confirmed for KASAI Pro 4

KASAI Elite Grappling Championships today confirms that Matheus Lutes and Dante Leon will meet in a superfight at KASAI Pro 4 on Saturday, November 10 at Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom.