Last night (Oct, 18, 2013), the opening rounds of the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) began at Ditan Gymnasium in Beijing, China. The tournament was filled with some of the best grapplers on Earth, who looked to deliver exciting matches, finishes, and record their names in grappling history.
In the 66 kg division, the favorites ran through the division. Rafael Mendes easily won both of his matches, finishing one via reverse triangle. Joao Miyao, one of the Miyao brothers, used his infamously tough feet to secure a footlocks of his own.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles advanced through the first two rounds, using his excellent back control to score points and threaten with submissions. The sole American to make it to the final four, Justin Rader, upset Agusto "Tanquinho" Mendes with a close points victory and followed it up by beating Nicolas Renier, also on points.
Once again, there's a chance this final comes down to Mendes vs "Cobrinha," bitter rivals who have met each other in the finals many times, with Mendes recently getting the better of "Cobrinha."
Moving onto the 77 kg division, Kron Gracie aggressive grappling continued to be successful at the highest level, finishing both Andy Wang and Gary Tonon with chokes. Lucas Lepri won his first match by points, before being upset by JT Torres in a close match where a late takedown won it for Torres.
Leo Vieira, who took second in 2011, won both of his matches via points, with the win over Agazarm coming in overtime. Otavio Souza finished both of his matches to advance, including an armlock of Ben Henderson, who won an incredible match with Leonardo Nogueira in the opening round.
While Torres is always game, expect to see Gracie in the finals. On the other hand, Otavio Souza vs Leo Viera is much more difficult to predict and should be an exciting match.
In the 88 kg division, Pablo Popovitch continued to have success in ADCC, winning his first match from advantages. In his second match, he armbarred David Avellan, who nearly lost a leg to Palhares in 2011. No. 4 seed and arguably the best American competitor ever, Rafeal Lovato Jr., also advanced to the semifinals, submitting both of his opponents.
In one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, Claudio Calasans, the No. 2 seed, lost to Oscar Piechota. Unfortunately for the Polish grappler, his success didn't last long, as he was choked out by rising Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenom Keenan Cornelius, who will meet Romolo Barral in the semifinals. Barral defeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Dong Hyun Kim with a footlock and then defeated Lucas Leite on points.
This is the only semifinals where the Americans out number the Brazilians. Lovato Jr. vs. Popovitch is sure to be an explosive match up that could go either way, while Cornelius vs. Barral will likely be an ultra technical battle for position. My final prediction would be Cornelius vs. Lovato Jr in the finals.
The 99 kg division went exactly as it was seeded. Dean Lister's footlock game was too much for his competitors to handle, heel-hookinh both to get to the final four. Brazil's Cristiano Lazzarini also advanced to the final four, defeating both Henry Ottaviano and Kamil Uminski.
Joao Assis, who took second to Lister in 2011, finished both of his opponents, one with a rear-naked choke and the other with a footlock. No. 3-ranked Leonardo Nogueira, who is NOT the Leo Nogueira who wrestled Ben Henderson, took his first and second match via points.
I expect this year's 99 kg final to be the same as two years ago with Dean Lister taking on Joao Assis once again. History will repeat itself, and Lister will walk away with another gold medal.
In the over 99 kg division, which is the heaviest in ADCC, No. 1 seed Vinny Magalhaes was shockingly upset in the second round by Jared Dopp, who defeated "Pezao" by points. Gabriel de Oliveira did as many expected he would, finishing both Michael Wilson and Janne Pietilainen by rear-naked choke.
On the other side of the bracket, "Buchecha" -- who was my personal pick to win this division -- hit a toe hold in his first match and americana'd Hedeki Sekine in his second match. The young Brazilian once again showed off his athleticism and technique. Recent Metamoris 2 competitor Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu decisioned Mike Martelle and Sanchez in close matches.
The final match up for this bracket will likely be "Buchecha" vs. Oliveira. "Buchecha" has already defeated "Cyborg" more than once, and Oliveira's talent is well-known, making it likely that they meet up in the finals. However, Dopp could play spoiler once again.
In the 66 kg women's division, the favorites all cleared the first round. Michelle Nicolini, who MMAmania readers may remember from Metamoris 2, won her match via triangle. Japan's Seiko Yamamoto defeated Kristina Barlaan by points and will face Nicolini in the semi-finals.
Ana Michele Tavares finished Nyjah Easton in the opening round and will face Luanna Alzugulr in the semifinals. I expect Tavares to face Nicolini in the finals, where Nicolini will at least win, if not finish.
The final division is the women's over 66 kg division. Gabi Garcia is a huge favorite to win the division and looked the part last night, defeating Yurika Nakakura. The No. 4 seed Tammy Griego had an exciting match with Ida Hansson, who she defeated by points.
Poland's Maria Malyjasiak upset South Africa's Penny Thomas and will take on Fernanda Mazelli. Gabi Garcia is a beast and will likely run through whoever she ends up against in the finals.
In last night's sole super fight, Braulio Estima took on Andre Galvao. Both Brazilians are highly decorated competitors and widely regarded as some of the best grapplers in the world. For most of the match, Braulio worked his half and inverted guard, while Galvao tried to find ways to explode around it.
The two grapplers fought a highly technical battle, each man stuffing the other's attempts to progress toward a sweep or dominant position. Then, Galvao managed to turn a failed guard pass attempt into a back take and locked in a rear-naked choke.
Tonight, the semi-finals and finals of each division will be taking place, as well as the remaining super fight. MMAmania will be bringing you LIVE coverage of ADCC's Day 2, so be sure to stop by and witness some incredible submission wrestling RIGHT HERE.