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BJJ Stars is set to be Brazil's biggest grappling event of 2020, and FloGrappling members in the USA, Canada, and Mexico can watch it live on July 25 (or on-demand after the event).
Kaynan Duarte was originally set to face off with Felipe Pena in the main event. A foot injury took Pena out of the match, and BJJ Stars quickly arranged for Joao Gabriel Rocha to replace him.
An ultra-heavyweight competitor, many consider Rocha second only to Buchecha in the ultra-heavyweight division. He's a World Pro champion, King of Mats champion, and a silver medalist at both ADCC and the IBJJF Worlds.
This won't be the first time Rocha and Duarte have faced off.
Joao Gabriel Rocha vs Kaynan Duarte – A History
Duarte and Rocha actually grappled twice on the same day in June 2019 at the Abu Dhabi King of Mats Moscow. They went 1-1, with Duarte winning the opening round match via guillotine and Rocha taking the second match, which was the final, on points.
Rocha was crowned the Heavyweight "King of Mats" that day, although Kaynan maybe stole the show thanks to his stunning submission but also due to the amazing story of what happened to him on the day of the event.
It was just two weeks after he had beaten Leandro Lo in the final of the World Championships, and Duarte had flown to Moscow following the invitation to compete in the prestigious tournament. Duarte had trouble navigating the Russian capital, with drivers dropping him off at the incorrect venue not once, but twice!
He arrived late and missed his first match of the event, arriving at the arena with just enough time to change into his gi before he had to compete against Joao Gabriel Rocha. With no warm-up, he took Rocha out with a match-ending guillotine choke and fought his way into the elimination rounds where he again faced off with Rocha in the final. There, Rocha was able to claw back victory via a single penalty point.
What to expect from BJJ Stars
BJJ Stars matches are in the gi and held under IBJJF rules, so we can expect to see A-games from both of these competitors.
The question is where this match goes – Kaynan appears more flexible in his approach. Look for Kaynan’s impressive single-leg X guard and come-up sweeps, and his torreando passing from top.
Aside from his size advantage, Rocha's best weapons are his takedowns (especially his drop shoulder throw). If he has a preference for a submission, it would be chokes from the back, which account for 27% of his submission wins.
Rocha's overall submission rate is slightly higher, at 42% of his total wins compared to Duarte's 32%.
One very notable fact is that Duarte is by far the more active competitor; even though Rocha has been a black belt since 2013, he has 124 career matches (89 wins, 35 losses). Duarte gained his black belt in June of 2018; in that time, he's had 99 grappling matches, losing only 12.
One notable common opponent they share is that of Leandro Lo. Rocha has faced Lo three times and has never managed to win. Duarte, on the other hand, was victorious against him twice, although the 2019 World Championship final result was overturned following Duarte's USADA suspension and subsequent loss of results.
The last time we saw Joao Gabriel Rocha at BJJ Stars was in early 2019 when he scored a points win over Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida. Since then, Rocha has had a mixed bag of results – he won the UAEJJF World Pro and Abu Dhabi King of Mats, but missed both IBJJF Worlds and ADCC due to illness and injury.
Joao Gabriel Rocha vs Kaynan Duarte is the main event of BJJ Stars. Watch it on July 25 on FloGrappling. See more matches here.
Note: BJJ Stars on FloGrappling will be available to watch in USA, Canada, and Mexico only.