The IBJJF European Championship is the first major event of the year and the official start of the gi season. Not only is “Euros,” as it’s called, one of the biggest tournaments in the world, it’s most certainly also one of the toughest.
Typically, the European Championship sets the pace for the first half of the year right up until the final event of the gi season, the World Championship. Who ever takes the gold in Lisbon can usually be considered a main contender for gold at Worlds a few months later.
That’s why we are super excited to have many Hyperfly athletes registered for this year’s European Championship, including a few likely favorites who, with a solid finish, could set themselves up nicely for a successful 2020.
Let’s take a look at who is registered and some of the challenges they’ll face on the road to gold.
The lapel master and Legion Jiu-Jitsu founder has been extremely busy the last few months, and the European Championship will be the first real test since his showing at last year’s World Championship.
Keenan faced his series of challenges in 2019, and with a new gym, team, and year underway we are excited to see him take to the competition mats once again. This year he is registered in the heavyweight division, which may be one of the most exciting and talent-rich groups in the entire event.
Veterans like Jackson Sousa, Adam Wardzinski, and Dimitrius Souza always pose a serious threat, however, the biggest question mark in the division comes from the newcomers. Rookie black belt Fabio Alano was a standout at the colored belts and has a very technical and tenacious game that will certainly makes waves in his new rank. Newer black belts Dom Bell and Pedro Elias will also be a challenge as Bell is a former teammate with excellent knowledge of Keenan’s lapel game and Elias trains with Gerard Labinski, one of the best lapel players on Earth down at the NS Brotherhood in Brazil.
Ultimately, we have confidence Keenan will perform well in his return to competition, and with a European gold medal in 2018 to his name, he’ll have experience on his side.
The juggernaut Mahamed Aly also makes his return to the gi in the 2020 European Championship. The last time we saw the Lloyd Irvin standout was at the ADCC Championship where he put on some of the most exciting matches of the event.
Aly steps up to the ultra heavyweight division this year, moving up from his normal super heavy weight class where he’ll face some of the biggest, strongest, and most technical grapplers on the planet.
Tanner Rice is no stranger to the ultra heavy division and with the game of a much smaller competitor always gives the big guys a technical challenge. He’s taken home a few medals in big competitions over recent years and a matchup between him and Aly would be one for the books.
Seif-Eddine Houmine is certainly one of the biggest competitors in jiu-jitsu and must weigh in at over 300 pounds. The GF Team powerhouse gave the fans one of the best shows of the tournament last year in Lisbon in an absolute match with Lucas Lepri. Aly will have his hands full if he runs into the big guy in 2020.
Igor Schneider, however, may pose the most serious threat to Aly, as he is one of Leandro Lo’s main training partners and a technical ultra-heavy who always brings the fight.
Whoever Aly faces this year in Lisbon, we know the world champion has exactly what it takes to bring home the gold in 2020.
Jackson is a tenacious competitor due for a breakout and with training partners like Caio Terra, Mikey Musumeci, Yuri Simoes, and Rudson Mateus we know he has what it takes to compete with the best names in the sport.
Registered at lightweight this year, Jackson is slated to face some of the most exciting and competitive names in the sport. Newcomers like Jonnatas Gracie, Guthierry Barbosa, and Italo Moura will be an exciting challenge for Jackson, but with his skill and athleticism he can definitely upset some of these young black belts who are expected to have promising performances.
Veterans like Luan de Carvalho and Vitor Oliveira are always dangerous, but the mix of talent, youth, and experience in this division is what makes it so exciting.
Make us proud Jeremey.
Nate Mendelson is currently registered in the medium-heavy divison, one of the most competitive of the event. Nate is a strong competitor with a well-rounded game, and he'll have to be ready for anything this weekend in Lisbon.
The medium-heavy division includes some of the top names in the sport, including returning champion Rudson Matheus, the always game Manuel Ribamar, the Viking warrior Espen Mathiesen, and newer black belts Rafael Paganini and Gabriel Almeida.
We expect hard-faught rolls and technical matches from Mendelsohn and this division. If anyone deserves to be on the podium this weekend, it's Nate.
Ana Rodrigues is a brand new black belt and already has the skills to put on a gold medal performance this week at Europeans. Now part of the Dream Art Project, Ana has already beaten some of the top names at her new rank.
The European Championship, however, will be the first real test of her young black belt career. Currently registered in the Light-Featherweight division, the Alliance standout will face a small group of only 4 other competitors. She will likely meet up with Talita Alencar on her way to gold, which will probably be her toughest opponent of the tournament.
With the Dream Art flag behind her and nothing but potential ahead of her we believe Ana will do very will this weekend and this year at the black belt rank.
One of the most promising female competitors of her generation, Margot has been nearly unstoppable at the colored belts. Already in her first 6 months at brown belt she has a gold medal at the recent No-Gi World Championship and is slated for big things in 2020.
A natural guard player and Berimbolo back take expert, Margot seems to cut through competition like a buzzsaw. There are nine women registered in her division of lightweights and we believe she will run through the division much like she did at purple belt a year earlier.
The Atos standout who took home the gold medal at purple belt last year at worlds is set to make his brown belt gi debut this week in Europe. Highly favored at medium-heavy, Connor will have a fierce division to get through for a gold medal this week. With the likes of Alliance rising star Lucas Gualberto and R1NG JJ stud Pedro Machado registered, DeAngelis will have his hands full.
Just 6 months ago however, Conner was able to thwart the attacks of Machado in the purple belt world final. Gualberto is a question mark however, as he typically competes at middleweight. There is no doubt the growing 20 year old is prepared for the heavier division as he trains with black belt super star Nicholas Meregali down in Porto Alegre.
Whoever Connor faces however, will have an extremely tough fight ahead of them. Under the tutelage of Andre Galvao and with training partners like Lucas Barbosa, Dom Bell, Kaynan Duarte, and others, Conner will be prepared for anything at his new rank.
Dream Art Athletes
Japanese Rising Stars
Best of luck to all of the athletes representing Hyperfly this week in Lisbon!