2021 World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship

Pay Attention To These Brown Belts At No-Gi Worlds

Pay Attention To These Brown Belts At No-Gi Worlds

The brown belts take the mats at the IBJJF No-Gi World Championships on Friday, October 9. These are the athletes we’re watching closely.

Oct 5, 2021 by Corey Stockton
Pay Attention To These Brown Belts At No-Gi Worlds

Before the black belts take the mats at the IBJJF No-Gi World Championship on Saturday, October 9 and Sunday October 10, the brown belts will warm the mats up on Friday, October 8. 

Historically, the brown belt divisions at No-Gi Worlds have included several future black belt world champions, and about 20 athletes in these divisions will fulfill their dream of becoming brown belt world champs later this week. 

These are the brown belts we’re watching closely. 


The brown belt middleweight division runs deep with talent, but a few leg lockers stand out as favorites to win. Canada’s Pierre-Olivier Leclerc demonstrated that he can hang with the best in his recent performance at the BJJ Fanatics Grand Prix. He’s particularly fluent in leg attacks, and — if he balances that with the strategy of IBJJF competition — that could take him far in this backet. 

Leclerc may run into the Israeli, Omer Emanoley in the quarterfinals. Emanoley is a proficient leg locker in his own right; he won American Nationals earlier this year, winning all four of his matches via heel hook in less than one minute each.

Emanoley hits a quick sub

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Izaak Michell of the B-Team will be making his brown belt debut at No-Gi Worlds. Consider the Australian a wild card in this division, as he’s been absent from IBJJF majors for several years. 

In the heavyweight division, Checkmat’s Elder Cruz appears poised to collect another major title this weekend in his 16-man division. El Monstro has a tough first round draw in Art Of Jiu-Jitsu’s Mateus Rodrigues. But Cruz seems to have turned a corner this year, taking gold in his brown belt debut at American Nationals and following it up with gold in the gi at Pans. He’s got momentum behind him, and could carry that into another standout performance at No-Gi Worlds.

Elder Cruz turns up the gas

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Speaking of momentum, Jacob Couch will enter No-Gi Worlds in the super heavyweight division. Now with a submission victory over a highly-ranked Roberto Jimenez in his rear view mirror, Couch should feel like a veteran entering this division. Now with his best weapon, the heel hook, at his disposal, Couch could have his best opportunity to collect a world championship this weekend. But don’t look past Six Blades’ Felipe Costa or Legion AJJ’s Breylor Grout, each of whom pose significant challenges to Couch.

The featherweight division is studded with finishers as well, and three of the division’s frontrunners were involved in a tightly contested final four at American Nationals earlier this year. Any one of the three — Ismael Santos, Juno Lucero or Vinicius Pereira — find themselves atop the podium. It’s nearly impossible to predict which of the three will be in top form on Friday, but all three of these men are bound to unleash every attack in their arsenals in each of their potentially five matches.

Many of the names in the female brown belt divisions deserve attention, and all of them share a hunger for submission victory. Some of the most prolific finishers across the women’s divisions include Jessie Crane, Jasmine Rocha, Brianna Ste-Marie, Amy Campo and Maria Ruffato.