2022 Pan IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship

The Top-Tier Brown & Black Belt Women Coming To No-Gi Pans This Weekend

The Top-Tier Brown & Black Belt Women Coming To No-Gi Pans This Weekend

37 black belts and 44 brown belts are registered for the female divisions at No-Gi Pans this weekend. Here are the the top two dozen we're watching closely.

Oct 10, 2022 by Beatrice Jin
The Top-Tier Brown & Black Belt Women Coming To No-Gi Pans This Weekend

Many familiar and unfamiliar names will enter their bid for the IBJJF No-Gi Pans Championships this weekend. While athletes may still move between divisions, whatever way the women’s divisions shape up is sure to deliver exciting matches in both brown and black belt divisions. 

Brown belts

Sophia Cassella rips a heel hook to finish Jessie Crane on Tezos WNO

Among featherweights, Vitória Assis is the most recent purple belt IBJJF world champion in gi and no-gi. She’ll be making her brown belt majors debut after a double gold performance at American Nationals. So far at brown belt, Assis has shown dynamic passing mixed with strong leg attacks from top position.

Sophia Cassella is the only brown belt among nine black belts in Flograppling’s 115lb rankings. This spring she heel-hooked Jessie Crane in the fastest women’s WNO submission ever.

Morgan Black recently won the ADCC Open pro women’s open weight division with five submissions and seven wins that weekend. She displayed strong wrestling, passing, and backtakes. She’ll take on the lightweight division at No-Gi Pans this weekend.

Other contenders who have had a high degree of success in the sub-only scene are Peyton Letcher and Nicole Mathew. Both are proficient leg lockers, dominant from the feet, and comfortable anywhere on the ground.

Emily Pakulski is last year’s purple belt lightweight no-gi world champion, and she’ll have plenty of new challenges to overcome this week. Pakulski won many of her previous matches using her quick and intelligent berimbolo and back take game.

Among middleweight competitors, Rosa Walsh stands out as a rising star, most recently submitting Nathalie Ribeiro at the ADCC Open in less than one minute. Walsh has extremely fast takedowns and transitions to the armbar, tools she’s used often to find success in her budding pro career.

Rosa Walsh tore through her division at the ADCC Open last month.

Deise Leonanjo has been submitting opponents left and right since her colored belt career began. This week she’ll be looking for similar success in the medium-heavy bracket. Leonanjo plays a dangerous closed guard, where she sometimes finishes matches within seconds.

Dream Art’s Giovanna Jara has to be a favorite in the heavyweight bracket. She is the most recent purple belt double World champion in the gi, an ADCC Brazilian Trials winner. She recently made her ADCC debut, where she had a back and forth match against black belt world champ Kendall Reusing. In her previous matches, Jara has shown precise takedowns and dominant back takes.

Maria Ruffato may get a chance to face the young champion from Dream Art. Ruffato went 6-2 at the ADCC Open last month and has come just shy of first place in several previous IBJJF tournaments in her weight class and the open class.

Black belts

Mayssa Bastos is nearly perfect in her no-gi career as a black belt.

The black belt light feather bracket has potential for several interesting rematches. Alex Nguyen, who has been dominant on the sub-only scene, may get her second shot at the no.1 one 115 lb and no.3 pound-for-pound in the world, Mayssa Bastos. Nguyen has shown sharp passing and finishing power lately. Bastos is of course known for her impassable guard and her backtake ability, but may also be one of the best pressure passers among lightweights.

Featherweight rookie black belt Alex Enriquez won the ADCC Open’s pro 60kg bracket and has several high level wins in the sub only scene. Enriquez has found strong openings via wrestling and front headlocks. She’ll be challenged by decorated veterans such as Patricia Machado and Sheliah Lindsey.

In the lightweight division, Jasmine Rocha and Emily Fernandez have both had successful colored belt careers and will get a chance to make their statement at black belt in the lightweight division. Anna Rodrigues, former black belt World and Pan champion, will make a rare appearance in no-gi competition several weight classes higher than her usual light featherweight.

Elisabeth Clay is probably the most well known name in the middleweight division, having several tough matches against veteran black belts like Bia Mesquita on Tezos WNO. She’ll be challenged by rising stars like Betina Pereira of GF Team and Jessica Buchman of TAC Team, both successful competitors at the colored belts. Vannessa Griffin is the returning two time black belt Pan No-Gi champion, and will be looking for a repeat performance.

Elisabeth Clay's leg lock power carried her to No-Gi Pans double golds in 2021.

The medium-heavy bracket will feature several active and decorated black belts. Vedha Toscano is the 2019 black belt No-Gi World Champion. Bridget McEliece is a former black belt No-Gi Worlds silver medalist and ADCC Open champion. Thalyta Silva and Chloe McNally are both extremely accomplished in the gi. This week they’ll look to add No-Gi Pans champion to their accolades.

Nathiely De Jesus, an extremely decorated black belt athlete, will compete in her first major tournament in the super heavyweight division since giving birth to her daughter. Her opponent in the two-woman division, Mayara Custódio, won the adult IBJJF Nogi Worlds title in 2021.

Rafaela Guedes will win default gold in the heavyweight division, as she’s the only athlete registered there. But she’s likely to enter the absolute, where she could meet Clay, de Jesus, Custodio, and many more of these top-tier competitors.