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First round matches can be some of the most exciting and dramatic of an entire event. Here are four from IBJJF Euros that left us in shock.
4. Pedro Ramalho vs. Yan “Pica Pau” Paiva
WATCH VIDEO (match starts at approx. 13:00)
One of the best competitive black belts from Portugal, lightweight Pedro Ramalho scored one of the biggest wins of his career by submitting 2018 Brazilian national champ Yan Paiva (aka “Pica Pau”) with a triangle in the opening round.
Pica Pau is as tough as they come –- he survived Edwin Najmi’s triangle, and not many people can say that. But Ramalho proved himself one of the top European lightweights with this notable victory.
3. Amal Amjahid vs. Larissa Campos
Belgian grappler Amal Amjahid is a star grappler around these parts. The diminutive black belt packs a punch with her dynamic passing game and huge overhead sweeps. She had an outstanding brown belt career and is a two-time European weight and absolute champion (2017 and 2018).
No one –- and I mean no one -– would have predicted that she would get DQ’d in the opening match of the light-featherweight division against Larissa Campos. The opening minutes of the match saw them both rack up penalties for double guard-pulls. When the action started flowing toward the end of the match, Amjahid hit a reversal from bottom that put Campos on her knees. She looked up to the referee and signaled with her hand, asking for her points. While not technically speaking to the referee, a competitor is not supposed to communicate to the officials and she was awarded a fourth match-ending penalty that gave Campos the win.
Amjahid was defiant and her attitude left no doubt as to who she thought the winner was. Luckily the bracket of three allowed her to come back and face Campos in the final. Amjahid did not make the same mistake and went home with her first European black belt gold medal.
2. Gabriel Almeida vs. Lucas Barbosa
Checkmat’s Gabriel Almeida was a brown belt the last time he competed at the IBJJF European Championships, taking silver in the medium-heavyweight division in 2018. The same day, Lucas Barbosa was closing out the black belt absolute division with teammate Keenan Cornelius.
Fast forward to 2019 and Almeida would face “Hulk” in the opening round. It was a spirited clash between the medium-heavyweights, and when the referees were asked to render their decision two of the three officials gave it to Almeida. It was a solid run for Almeida, who can begin his 2019 season knowing that he can hang with the best in the world.
1. Kennedy Maciel vs. Cleber Sousa
WATCH VIDEO (match starts at approx. 4:50)
It must be tough to be Kennedy Maciel. It’s not like everybody expects him to simply step into his father Cobrinha’s shoes, but people see how much talent and potential he has, not to mention how hard he works. So, expectations of him are high. Even though he only got his black belt midway through 2018, he proved he’s right up there by winning No-Gi Worlds in December.
Few would have predicated that he would fall in his opening round match at the IBJJF Europeans –- and by submission, no less. Kennedy dropped a weight class for Euros, and Cleber Sousa of Almeida JJ gave him a tough welcome to the light-featherweight division. The match ended with an unusual choke that needs to be seen to be understood.