FloGrappling Official No-Gi Worlds Brown Belt Preview

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On December 12th through 15th the IBJJF will be hosting their 12th edition of the World Jiu-Jitsu Nogi Championship at the Anaheim Convention Center. The brown belt divisions are filled with talent, some of the sports best prospects have registered and it should be an exciting weekend in Anaheim.

There are 208 male brown belts registered for this year's No-Gi Worlds. The largest division is featherweight with 39 athletes, followed by middleweight with 34 and lightweight with 33. Five of last year's 2018 purple belt No-Gi Worlds champs are registered, including open class champion Taylor Kettler. All of the brown belt champions from a year ago have either graduated to black belt or not registered this year.

There are also 48 female brown belts registered this year, with medium-heavyweight the largest at 10 athletes.

The black belt male and female divisions have already been analyzed here.

Here is a look at the big names in the brown belt divisions, brackets will be released on Wednesday, December 11.

Rooster

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Mauricio Mormille (Qatar BJJ) 

Tadiyah Danforth (Alliance) second 2019 No-Gi Pans

Christopher Tran (Lloyd Irvin) third 2019 No-Gi Pans

Denis Beenen (Open Mat) first 2019 No-Gi Euros

Johnif Rocha (Cicero Costha) first 2019 No-Gi Brasileiro

Only nine athletes registered at roosterweight, but two-thirds of them have made the podium at major no-gi events over the past couple of years.

Mauricio Mormille is trying to win a second straight No-Gi Worlds title, he finished third at No-Gi Brasileiro up at light-feather. 

Johnif Rocha was a No-Gi World champ at purple two years ago and also recently won No-Gi Brasileiro at brown belt. 

No-Gi European champ Denis Beenen finished third in that 2017 No-Gi Worlds bracket won by Rocha. The other bronze medalist from that Worlds bracket, Pierre Pires (Brazil 021) is also registered.

Half of the No-Gi Pans podium from this year is also registered in Tadiyah Danforth and Christopher Tran.


Light-Feather

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: Second Elijah Tagalog (Gracie Barra)

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: None

Rodrigo Goncales (Open Mat) Second 2019 No-Gi Pans

Gabriel Souza (Barbosa) Second 2019 No-Gi Brasileiro

Twenty-three athletes at light-featherweight this year. None of last year's purple medalists are back at this weight (two of them bumped up to feather), but the 2018 silver medalist is back in Elijah Tagalog.

A couple runner-ups from No-Gi majors are registered in Pans runner-up Rodrigo Goncales and Brasileiro silver medalist Gabriel Souza.

There are a number of elite brown belts in this bracket that should contend for the title in Anaheim. Pedro Serrano (Gracie Barra), Vagner Reis (Alliance), Vinicius Pereira (Brazil 021), Ariel Magalhaes (Checkmat), Gabriel Gaudio (GF Team), and Christian Fisher (Soul Fighters) are some names to look out for.


Feather

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Light-Feather Jordan Vaisman (Gracie Barra), Second Joshua Cisneros (Cleber), Second Light-Feather Jarrod Trotter (Soul Fighters), Third Yaroslav Blazhko (ZR Team)

Daniel Maira (Alliance) First Lightweight 2019 No-Gi Pans

Damion Oranday (Alliance) Second 2019 No-Gi Pans

Keith Krikorian (10th Planet) Third 2019 Lightweight No-Gi Pans

Abdimalik Buul (Atos) Third 2019 No-Gi Pans

Matheus Onda (Barbosa) Third 2019 No-Gi Brasileiro

Thirty-nine athletes in a stacked featherweight division, including four purple belt medalists from a year ago.

Jordan Vaisman won No-Gi Worlds last year down at light-feather, defeating Jarrod Trotter in the final there. Both of them are in this featherweight bracket.

Another purple belt finalist from a year ago was Joshua Cisneros at featherweight.

Daniel Maira won No-Gi Pans this year up at lightweight, defeating ADCC vet Keith Krikorian in the semifinals.


Light

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: Third Ellis Younger (ECJJA)

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Andy Murasaki (Atos)

Max Ruderman (Unity) Second 2019 No-Gi Pans

Joao Matos (Gracie Humaita) Third 2019 No-Gi Pans

One returning medalist at brown belt in this 33-athlete division, returning bronze medalist Ellis Younger.

Andy Murasaki won No-Gi Worlds at purple in this weight a year ago. Murasaki is one of the best brown belts in the game right now and is a solid choice to take this division.

A couple other athletes are registered who have made the podium at majors this year, but look out for Jeremy Skinner (Absolute MMA) and Jay Jay Wilson (Alliance). They might not be as active in the IBJJF scene as others in this division but have great no-gi games and should challenge for the world title in Anaheim.

Watch: Murasaki Wins 2019 No-Gi Worlds


Middle

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Thiago Graca (Gracie Barra), First Medium-Heavy Alessandro Borgonovo (Atos), Third Sebastian Rodriguez (Unity)

Sergio Filho (Double Five) Second No-Gi Brasileiro

Mohamed Omar (Fight Sports) Third No-Gi Euros

Two returning purple belt world champs from a year ago in this division, middleweight champ Thiago Graca and medium-heavyweight champ Alessandro Borgonovo

Sebastian Rodriguez finished third at purple a year ago and previously won the open class at purple belt No-Gi Pans.

Taylor Pearman (ZR Team) won purple middle at No-Gi Worlds two years ago, defeating Kody Steele (Checkmat) in that final. Kody has had a great year in no-gi, defeating names like DJ Jackson and Jonnatas Gracie, and should be considered one of the favorites here.

Two-time ADCC veteran Oliver Taza (Renzo Gracie) has to be considered one of the favorites here as well.


Medium-Heavy

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: Third middle Andre Gois (Alliance)

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: None

Andre Gois (Alliance) First No-Gi Pans

Andrew Wiltse (Pedigo) First Middle No-Gi Pans

Avery Brooks (BTT) Third No-Gi Pans

Matthaues Santos (NS Brotherhood) Third No-Gi Pans

Rafael Dos Anjos (Alliance) Third Middle No-Gi Brasileiro

Shane Fishman (ECJJA) First No-Gi Euros

A ton of talent at medium-heavyweight, led by returning bronze medalist at brown belt Andre Gois. Gois also won No-Gi Pans this year.

Andrew Wiltse was a 2017 No-Gi World champ at purple and won No-Gi Pans at middleweight earlier this year.

Conner Deangelis is another 2017 No-Gi Worlds champ; he also finished second in the open class that year.

Rafael Dos Anjos, Ciro Knabben (Alliance), Avery Brooks (BTT), Shane Fishman (ECJJA), Kristof Szucs (Gracie Barra), Jonathan Bechtloff (Soul Fighters), and Miha Perhavec (Legion) are some more athletes to keep an eye on next weekend at medium-heavyweight.


Heavy

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Pedro Marinho (Gracie Barra), Second Thomas Bracher (Gracie Barra), Third Adam Bradley (Atos)

Roberto Jimenez (Alliance) First No-Gi Pans, Third Open Class

Pedro Marinho (Gracie Barra) Second No-Gi Pans, First Open Class

Ryan Aitken (Alliance) Third No-Gi Pans

Thomas Bracher (Gracie Barra) Second No-Gi Euros

Some big names in the 17-athlete heavyweight division, most notably No-Gi Pan champion Roberto Jimenez

Returning purple belt world champ and ADCC vet Pedro Marinho lost to Roberto in that No-Gi Pans final, but went on to win the open class. Marinho has a great guillotine and has split two matches with Roberto so far.

Adam Bradley has made the podium at No-Gi Worlds two years in a row, finishing second in 2017 and third in 2018, both years at purple belt.

Another athlete that should contend here is Thomas Bracher, who finished second at No-Gi Worlds to Marinho a year ago and also finished as the runner-up at No-Gi Euros this year.

Watch: 2019 No-Gi Pans Jimenez Vs Marinho


Super-Heavy

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: None

Andre Porfirio (Fight Sports) First No-Gi Pans, Second Open Class

Christopher Passerello (Tony Passos) Third No-Gi Pans

Vitor Mello (Gracie Barra) First No-Gi Euros

No podium finishers returning from purple or brown belt a year ago here, but this 18-athlete super-heavyweight category definitely has some heavy hitters.

Andre Porfirio won his weight at No-Gi Pans and finished second in the open, submitting Roberto Jimenez by armlock in the open class semifinal.

Giancarlo Bodoni (Alliance) is one of the best brown belt medium-heavyweights in the world, he’s signed up here a couple weight classes up from the usual.

Levi Guimaraes (BTT), Gabriel Machado (Gracie Barra) and Vitor Mello (Gracie Barra) should all contend in this division at No-Gi Worlds.

Watch: Porfirio Submits Roberto At No-Gi Pans


Ultra-Heavy

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: Second Wladmir Cunha (Ralph Gracie), Third Super-Heavy Brian Giorgio (Alliance)

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: Second Taylor Kettler (Brasa CTA) First Open Class
Roosevelt Souza (Fight Sports) First No-Gi Pans

Nine athletes registered in a crazy ultra-heavyweight division. The last two purple open class champs at No-Gi Worlds, two returning brown belt medalists and the reigning No-Gi Pans champ are all registered.

Mason Fowler (Brasa CTA) won ultra-heavy and the open class in 2017 at No-Gi Worlds, defeating Conner Deangelis in the open final. His teammate Taylor Kettler finished second at ultra-heavy and won the purple open class a year ago.

The massive Roosevelt Souza has to be considered one of the favorites here. Now training full-time out of Fight Sports in Miami, Roosevelt is a behemoth of a man and won No-Gi Pans earlier this year. 

Returning brown belt medalists include runner-up at this weight Wladmir Cunha and super-heavy bronze medalist Brian Giorgio.

Female Divisions- 

Light-Feather

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: Third Tabatha Ricci (Paragon)

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Crystal Gaxiola (Atos), Second Andreza Sousa (Ares)

Brittany Way (Darkwolf MMA) Second 2019 No-Gi Euros

Andreza Sousa (Ares) First 2019 Pans No-Gi Feather

No roosterweight division at female brown belt this year so light-feather is up first. Tabatha Ricci is the only returning brown belt medalist at this weight. Ricci was also a No-Gi Worlds champ at purple in 2017.

Both of last year's finalists at purple are at brown now in Crystal Gaxiola and Andreza Sousa. Sousa won No-Gi Pans at brown belt in September as well.

Brittany Way also won No-Gi Worlds at purple two years ago and finished second at this year's No-Gi Euros. Dorothy Dao (Ralph Gracie) finished third in that 2017 No-Gi Worlds light-featherweight bracket at purple.


Feather

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: Third Breanna Stikkelman (Street Sports)

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First My Bao Nguyen (High Noon)

One returning medalist at this weight, bronze medalist Breanna Stikkelman

My Bao Nguyen is another incoming purple belt No-Gi World champ.

Crystal Demopoulos (GF Team) and Heather Morgan (Atos) should definitely contend for the title in this division as well.


Light

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: None

Denise Huber (Ferrer) Third 2019 No-Gi Euros

Nobody returning from last year's podium, but Alexa Yanes (Rodrigo Pinheiro) was a 2017 No-Gi World champ at purple.

Kira Sung (Jiu-Jitsu Lab) is another name to look out for, and one of the favorites to finish with gold at lightweight.


Middle

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: Third lightweight Jessica Buchman (Brasa CTA)

Vannessa Griffin (Team Lloyd Irvin) Third No-Gi Pans Medium-Heavy

A really tough weight here. Vanessa Griffin, Jessica Buchman, and Martina Linnea (Checkmat) are three of the best female brown belts in the world and it should be a tough battle to make the top of the podium at middle.


Medium-Heavy

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Elizabeth Clay (Ares), Second Gabriela Stan (Jiu-Jitsu For Life), Second Heavy Chloe Mcnally (Unity

Chloe Mcnally (Unity) First 2019 No-Gi Euros

Madelynn Del Rio-Fernandez (LEAD BJJ) third 2019 No-Gi Pans

Elizabeth Clay won double gold at No-Gi Worlds a year ago, defeating Chloe Mcnally in her weight class final. Mcnally has gone on to win No-Gi Euros this year.

Gabriela Stan, Madelynn Del Rio-Fernandez, Rafaela Guedes (Atos) and Alessandra Moss (Gracie Allegiance) should all contend in a deep medium-heavyweight division.


Heavy

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Maggie Grindatti (Fight Sports)

Maggie Grindatti (Fight Sports) First Medium-Heavy No-Gi Pans

Maggie Grindatti should a heavy favorite to win this division, after winning No-Gi Worlds a year ago at purple and then double gold as a brown belt at No-Gi Pans.


Super-Heavy

Returning 2018 Brown Belt Medalists: None

Incoming 2018 Purple Belt Medalists: First Joy Pendell (Cassio Werneck)

A purple belt No-Gi World Champ a year ago, Joy Pendell is the only athlete from super-heavy a year ago returning that made the podium.


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