The first major gi championship of 2022 takes place in Rome, Italy this weekend with the IBJJF hosting the European Championships. The event was last held in Lisbon, Portugal in January 2020, just before the pandemic. While the IBJJF Worlds and Pans are often seen as the most prestigious events, the Europeans offer the same caliber of competition, as many foreign grapplers are able to make the trip more easily than coming to the U.S.
This year, we’re seeing an even larger percentage of the field representing European countries, including many athletes competing at the event for the first time as black belts. Below are some of the top five grapplers to watch at the event this Saturday, February 19th and Sunday, February 20th.
In the lightweight division, the #1 seed is three-time black belt European champion Marcio Andre. Having won the tournament as both a featherweight and a lightweight, some of Marcio’s most memorable moments in competition have come at this event. Opponents Marcio has beaten at the Europeans include Gianni Grippo, Isaac Doederlein, Paulo Miyao, and Andris Brunovskis. For Marcio to win gold this year, he’ll likely have to go through 2018 Abu Dhabi World Pro champion Espen Mathiesen and Cicero Costha black belt Natan Chueng. Look for Marcio to put his aggressive guard and pressure passing skills to the test against some of the best in the division.
At the 2020 IBJJF Europeans, the most recent edition of the event, Ffion Davies won both the lightweight and absolute divisions, outscoring her opponents 71-2 in her matches and defeating the former ADCC silver medalist Jessica Flowers in the absolute final. Ffion has mainly favored the top position in her competitive career, building off her judo background and adding highly technical guard passing. Her most accomplished opponents in her division are Nathalie Ribeiro and Margot Ciccarelli. In 2021, Nathalie won the IBJJF Pan Ams and The Abu Dhabi Queen of Mats events, while Margot had a third place finish at Worlds and a second place finish at Pans.
Another returning European champion is Norway’s Tommy Langaker. Tommy’s run at the 2020 Europeans was his best performance to date. He scored submission wins over Ronaldo Junior and Pedro Ramalho on his way to gold. In previous European Championships he’s also submitted Erberth Santos, Renato Canuto, Leonardo Lara, and Michael Liera Jr. Tommy’s jiu-jitsu is a mix of aggression and tenacity, as he uses every opportunity he can to attack a submission. Tommy placed third at the 2021 IBJJF Worlds in December, losing a back-and-forth match to the eventual champion Tainan Dalpra. He’ll look to defend his 2020 title and will likely have a rematch with Tainan in the process.
Art of Jiu-Jitsu’s Tainan Dalpra had one of the best black belt rookie seasons of any jiu-jitsu competitor in recent memory, putting together a 36-1 record that culminated in an IBJJF black belt world title in December. The last time Tainan competed at the Europeans he was a brown belt, where he won gold in the middleweight division. Although he hasn’t been a black belt for long, Tainan has already faced many of the best middleweights in the division. There’s a high probability that he’ll meet Norway’s Tommy Langaker in the final, in a rematch of the 2021 Worlds semi-final. Were Tainan to take gold, he would collect his third major tournament title in just over a year at black belt.
Coming off an ADCC South American Trials gold medal, Mayssa will again bump up a weight class from her normal spot at rooster weight up to light featherweight. Mayssa is widely considered one the best pound for pound female athletes in the sport. Her 2021 resume includes gold medals at the Worlds, Pan Ams, ADCC South American Trials, and No-Gi Worlds, among others. Mayssa will have to win two fights to win gold at Europeans in what would be her third time winning the event.
All matches and replays can be watched on FloGrappling.
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