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The 2020 gi season is just around the corner, with the Euros kicking off on January 21. There’s an immense amount of topics to cover heading into next year, and I’m going to get out ahead of it with some early division previews.
The light-featherweight division was one of the least exciting in 2019. Frequent closeouts robbed us of the opportunity to get finals or even semifinals in this division. This situation has been compounded by even more Cicero Costha athletes at light-feather graduating to black belt, with six athletes from the team currently ranked in the top 10.
There are a number of young athletes who could throw a kink in the plans of the Cicero/Unity squad and disrupt those closeouts. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a three-time world champ who won this division in both 2017 and 2018 looking to retake the crown at light-feather.
We already laid out the season schedule here, and also previewed the roosterweight divsion. Here’s the current top 25 ranked black belt male light-featherweights in the world:
|1||Joao Miyao||Cicero Costha||BRA|
|2||Paulo Miyao||Cicero Costha||BRA|
|3||Diego Oliveira||Cicero Costha||BRA|
|4||Tiago Barros||Cicero Costha||BRA|
|5||Alex Sodre||Nova Uniao||BRA|
|6||Hiago George||Cicero Costha||BRA|
|7||Gabriel Sousa||ZR Team||BRA|
|8||Jonas Andrade||Cicero Costha||BRA|
|10||Pedro Dias||Carlson Gracie||BRA|
|16||Fernando Soares||GF Team||BRA|
|17||Malachi Edmonds||Team Lloyd Irvin||USA|
|19||Rene Lopez||Caio Terra||USA|
|20||Suraj Budhram||Renato Tavares||USA|
|22||Joao Figueredo||Gracie Barra||BRA|
|24||Judinei Silva||GF Team||BRA|
|25||Eric Phan||Jiu-Jitsu For Life||CAN|
These were the athletes who made the podium at this weights majors in 2019:
|1 - João Ricardo Bordignon Miyao - Cicero Costha Internacional|
|2 - Paulo H. Bordignon Miyao - Cicero Costha Internacional|
|3 - Hiago George Santos Silva - PSLPB Cicero Costha|
|3 - José Tiago da Silva Barros - PSLPB Cicero Costha|
|1 - Hiago George Santos Silva - PSLPB Cicero Costha|
|2 - João Ricardo Bordignon Miyao - Cicero Costha Internacional|
|3 - Alexssandro Pinto Sodré - Nova União|
|3 - Paulo H. Bordignon Miyao - Cicero Costha Internacional|
|1 - Hiago George Santos Silva - Cicero Costha Internacional|
|2 - Alexssandro Pinto Sodré - Nova União|
|3 - João Ricardo Bordignon Miyao - Cicero Costha Internacional|
|3 - Lucas Ramos Gonçalves - Cassão Team|
1 - João Ricardo Bordignon Miyao - Cicero Costha Internacional
2 - Hiago George Santos Silva - Cicero Costha Internacional
3 - Cleber de Sousa Fernandes - Atos Jiu-Jitsu
3 - Pedro Paulo Dias Clementino - Cantagalo Team
Let’s dive right into it, here’s your Official FloGrappling 2020 Gi Season Preview for the male light-featherweight division:
The Cicero Costha Conundrum
As you can see above, there were a lot of closeouts from the Cicero Costha team at this weight in 2019. The Worlds was the peak of this closeout frenzy, with no semis or final at this weight as they took all four medals. Hiago George won the Brasileiro and Euros, Joao Miyao took the gold at Pans and Worlds.
Enter Jonas Andrade and Diego “Pato” Oliveira. Both athletes were world champs at the colored belts, with Pato even completing the grand slam at brown belt. They’ve both been successful at black belt and Cicero Costha currently has six of the top eight light-feathers with them in the fold.
Pato has already won the Moscow, Los Angeles, and Rio Grand Slams in the AJP and is a clear contender here. I think Jonas will drop back down to roosterweight for Worlds, but that would still leave the team with five representatives.
Maybe somebody goes up. Paulo Miyao has done a lot of competing up at featherweight and been successful there. Tiago Barros won Master Worlds at feather and is registered there for Euros. You would think they will have to spread it out so they don’t have more than four elite athletes in this division. However it gets worked out, though, someone is most likely going to have to beat back to back Cicero Costha athletes to win worlds at this weight.
Return Of The King
Mikey Musumeci (Brasa CTA) ruled this division in 2017 and 2018, going 16-1 and winning back-to-back world titles. He’s 4-0 against reigning champ Joao Miyao in his career; he also has a 1-0 record against both Hiago George and Thiago Barros. If there’s anybody you can bet on breaking up the stalemate at light-feather, it’s Mikey should he choose to go back up.
I don’t think Mikey goes back to roosterweight. He pulled out of pans with weight cut issues, then barely made the weight at worlds, even having to cut his hair to make it. Should Mikey return to light-feather, he’s an instant favorite. Mikey currently has the longest win streak in the gi, going 21 matches without losing. The majority of those were at light-featherweight.
Young Guns In The Mix
Alex Sodre (Nova Uniao) is entering 2020 on a 15-match win streak. He had an up-and-down 2019, finishing third at Euros and second at Brasileiro before losing to Tiago Barros in the quarters at Worlds. At Euros Sodre went down to Joao Miyao in a close semifinal, he avenged that loss 10-4 at Brasileiro after passing Joao’s guard twice. Then he went on to lose to Hiago George in that Brasileiro final. Sodre seems to be turning a corner in his career and should contend for a world title in 2020.
Gabriel Sousa (ZR Team) is another up-and-comer to keep an eye on in 2020. He has wins over both Miyao’s (Paulo in No-Gi) as well as Hiago George and Tiago Barros in his career. Gabriel has won several AJP Grand Slams and defeated Joao in the Abu Dhabi World Pro final. He also took a bad loss to Tiago Barros at Worlds, and lost his most recent to Hiago and Pato, but is right there with the best and could come out on top at Worlds.
Other Names To Look Out For
Atos has a couple of studs at this weight in Pablo Mantovani and Lucas Pinheiro. Malachi Edmond (Team Lloyd Irvin) is another new black belt who has won some big stuff at the colored belts. Pedro Dias (Carlson Gracie Team), Lucas Goncalves (Cassao), Yuta Shimada (Nexusense) and Willian Oliveira (Alliance) should all be contenders. Vets Gabriel Moraes (Alliance) and Samir Chantre (Ares) could always show up and do some damage.
My Take On The Situation
I'm thinking Mikey competes here at light-feather and Paulo moves up to feather, opening the way for Diego Pato. Mikey has an undefeated record against Joao, but those matches have been close, with Mikey narrowly winning a couple times. Pato can't be underestimated, he could win it all his rookie year. Anybody who does the Grand Slam at brown belt is an instant threat at black belt. Mikey will be the favorite, but Joao or Pato could take the title in 2020.