2022 BJJ Stars 8

Grappling Bulletin: Mica Galvao Subs Hulk & Beats Leandro, Wins BJJ Stars

Grappling Bulletin: Mica Galvao Subs Hulk & Beats Leandro, Wins BJJ Stars

The hype is real and the results don't lie. Following a stunning win at BJJ Stars, there is zero doubt left that Mica Galvao is THAT good.

May 2, 2022 by Hywel Teague
Grappling Bulletin: Mica Galvao Subs Hulk & Beats Leandro, Wins BJJ Stars

At only 18 years of age Mica Galvao is already one of the most-talked about athletes in jiu-jitsu. If you thought the attention he has received in any way unwarranted, last weekend's events would have put those doubts to bed. 

Galvao emerged the winner of the hyper-competitive BJJ Stars 8-man GP, beating two world champions in the process. Read on for a breakdown of Galvao's performance, and an assessment of what's next for the young star. 

Don't forget to watch the Grappling Bulletin podcast, every Monday at 4pm ET. Watch it on FloGrappling.com or the app, or catch it LIVE on YouTube or Facebook.

Watch upcoming live events on FloGrappling:

Mica Galvao Wins BJJ Stars, Worlds & ADCC Next? 

The final between Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa and Mica Galvao looked like it was going to play out to a decision. The clock was running down, it was tied on the scoreboard and it was hard to pick a winner. Nothing much happened until the very last minute of the match, when Galvao countered one of Hulk’s takedowns attempts, attached himself to his back and strangled him with a bow and arrow choke. It was a stunning submission, an early contender for submission of the year, and the perfect end to the biggest win of Galvao’s career. 

Mica Galvao was the second favorite to win BJJ Stars after Hulk, and they fortuitously landed on opposite sides of the bracket. The random draw put Mica against Leandro Lo in the opening round, and while Lo isn’t quite at the top of his game as he was, he’s still more than capable of slapping youngsters back down and showing why he’s one of the most successful competitors of the last decade. 

Galvao wisely tied up Lo and had him defending closed guard attacks, winning a convincing decision. His second round match was against Mauricio Oliveira, who some may remember as being the man who knocked Mica out of the BJJ Bet no-gi Grand Prix in 2021. An unfortunate knee injury stopped the match short and Mica advanced into the final with Hulk, who had beaten Roberto Jimenez (by points) and Leo Lara (armlock) to conquer that side of the bracket. 

It’s rare to see the entire jiu-jitsu community react so positively to a result. There has been near-universal praise for Mica’s performance, and there are few people in the jiu-jitsu world who don’t know his name. From wining ADCC Trials in Brazil to BJJ Stars, Mica Galvao is one of the new faces of modern jiu-jitsu: he’s humble, hard-working, incredibly skillful, disciplined, professional, and successful. 

It’s hard to compare Mica Galvao’s conquest because few people have done what he’s done. To go from a juvenile competitor to world class black belt in the space of a couple of years is not unheard of, but it is rare. With this performance, Galvao has gone beyond that and announced himself as one of the best black belts in the world. The question is where does he go from here? The calendar is full and there are many events on the horizon. Let’s take a look at what’s next. 

We didn’t get to see him at Pans, but he is signed up for the IBJJF Brazilian Nationals next week. It's a tight turnaround from last weekend's event, but he may need to go. Right now he has 27 points and he requires 36 to sign up for Worlds, which takes place in early June. 

Galvao has yet to compete at Brazilian Nationals as a black belt and while the tournament isn't as competitive as it once was, it is still a valuable title for any black belt's resume. More importantly, a medal at Brasileiros will unlock the ability to compete at Worlds and that's the real goal here. 

Let's not lose sight of the fact Mica Galvao just beat two world champions in one night. If he can do that, winning Worlds is within the realm of possibility. And then all focus will turn to ADCC in September, where he is already qualified. If he were to win that too while still 18 years old he will have achieved something truly unique. That's why watching Mica Galvao in 2022 is non-negotiable. 


Grappling News Round-Up

Read on for a breakdown of the major news stories from around the world of jiu-jitsu and grappling. 

Gutemberg, Bia Mesquita Shine With No-Gi Subs at BJJ Stars 

  • ADCC South American Trials winner Gutemberg Pereira showed off his no-gi skills by blowing Fellipe Andrew out of the water, submitting him in only 25 seconds with a guillotine choke.
  • 2017 ADCC champ Beatriz Mesquita looked solid in her return to no-gi with a submission win against Julie Boscher. Mesquita used an armbar from top position to finish the match. 
  • Felipe Pena struggled against South American Trials winner Henrique Ceconi, unable to get any offense going against his elusive opponent and winning by two penalty points. 
  • Fabrício Andrey won a 0-0 match against the cagey Alex Sodre but came close to ending it via a spectacular jumping armbar. 

The introduction of ADCC-rules matches to BJJ Stars was the perfect way of taking the recent South American Trials winners and getting them further experience under the ruleset against tough opponents. Pereira and Andrey passed with flying colors, and while Ceconi lost to Pena he made the former ADCC champ look very pedestrian. If Felipe Pena hopes to perform in the +99kg division in September he's going to have to step up his game. 

Watch all of the BJJ Stars matches here 

Demian Maia Returns to Grappling After 15 Years 

  • Former UFC title challenger Demian Maia won by submission at BJJ Stars, finishing Alex Cowboy Oliveira with a triangle choke. 
  • It was Maia's first grappling match since he won gold at ADCC in 2007, 15 years ago. 
  • The black belt used a leg lock attack to sweep and mount Oliveira midway through the match but the triangle came from the guard a little over three minutes into the match.

Now 44 years old, Maia's grappling skills looked as sharp as ever in tapping out Oliveira, 10 year his junior. Maia was always one of the best representatives of jiu-jitsu in MMA, compiling a 28-11 record with 14 submission wins. 

Watch Demian Maia vs Cowboy here 

Jansen Gomes Beats Erberth Santos in Pro Tournament 

  • Competing in the Warrior Jiu-Jitsu Championship invitational 16-man open weight division, Jansen Gomes of Checkmat had to beat a series of tough heavyweights to win the $3,000 cash prize. 
  • The biggest name the rookie faced was that of the fearsome 2017 IBJJF World Champion Erberth Santos. Gomes won that quarterfinal match via takedown in OT.  
  • Other opponents including ultra heavyweight Austin Baker in the final, and heavyweight UFC fighter Jared Vanderaa in the opening round. 

Promoted to black belt just last December Jansen Gomes has been on our list of rookies to watch in 2022. The brown belt world champ is one of the next gen athletes out of Checkmat and this performance shows that he's poised for greater challenges. He lost to Leandro at Pans but let's see what this win does for his confidence heading into Worlds next month. 

Gordon Ryan Health Update 

  • The numbers are looking good for Gordon Ryan, who shared the latest test results for his ongoing health issues. 
  • Undergoing extensive treatment for issues relating to his gastrointestinal tract, Ryan says his latest follow up with his doctor was "honestly one of the happiest days I've had in my whole life". 
  • After four years of significant health issues that have impacted his performance, Ryan says he is "half better" and between 6-12 months away from a full recovery. 

Much has said about Gordon's ongoing health problems, but few people understand the complexity of his issues– multiple doctors included. He's finally found a specialist who has his health moving in the right direction and his recent demeanor and performances in both competition and the training room point to a new and improved version of Gordon Ryan. While his body has held him back, he's made strides in his technique over the last couple of years and should the physical component remain solid we could see a truly terrifying athlete at ADCC in September. 

The Countdown to IBJJF Worlds

We started our annual Road to Worlds series with a quick visit to New Wave jiu-jitsu where Nicholas Meregali is training in the gi with 3x ADCC gold medalist Gordon Ryan. Meregali was taking it easy but if you've ever wanted to see Gordon throw down in the gi, now's your chance. 

L-R: Johnatha Alves, Gui Mendes, Tainan Dalpra and Thalison

Thalison Soares has arrived in California and will train for Worlds at the Mendes brothers' Art of Jiu-Jitsu. The black belt roosterweight has decamped from his home in Australia for a training camp under the supervision of Gui Mendes and has this to say about the unexpected move: "

"Gui always been a mentor for me, I've known him since I was 15 years old. Him and his brother are an inspiration. My school is inspired by them, they are doing great work with with Tainan, John. To be able to train with them is super good, because we are the same age and we had a similar run as colored belts. I’ve been looking for the best for me and my future, so there's no one better than someone who did it, who is doing it now and are doing it for the future, too."

In Case You Missed It

We went deep into the databanks for a study on closeouts in jiu-jitsu, you can find the full article here and it makes for interesting reading. Over 13% of IBJJF major finals in the last 12 years were closed out, but that's not all– find out which athletes, teams and even divisions led the way with the most closeouts. Plus, who didn't close out. 

Gavin Corbe beat Estevan Martinez in a tough 2-0 win at Toro Cup 20. It was a typical Giant Slayer performance, where he threw himself badly at his opponent but Corbe showed good control in dealing with his wily opponent.  The event chooses a different charity to donate to with each show, and their latest event benefitted The Autism Society of North Carolina. Watch the match here