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ADCC Barcelona 2009 Recap & Results

ADCC 2009: The Best and the Brightest in Barcelona


With plenty of Cinderella stories and incredible shockers, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club event in Barcelona was an incredible spectacle for the grappling fans in attendance. The small brackets were packed with big names in grappling, but with almost all of the favorites failing to conquer their brackets, there’s a lot to talk about from the year.


Fabricio Werdum took home the superheavyweight gold medal, beating out Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Saulo Ribeiro in the semi-finals. Werdum was one of two returning winners on the men’s side to take home a gold medal. Werdum met surprising warrior Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu in the finals after Abreu upset 2005 winner Jeff Monson in the semi-finals.

Both semi-final matches for the big men were decided by referee’s decision after two overtime periods, as was the third place match between Monson and Ribeiro, which gave Monson the bronze. The final matchup between Abreu and Werdum, though, was far from controversial, with Werdum winning 9-0, shutting out Abreu and passing his guard three times.

The Making of a Legend

The biggest story for Abu Dhabi, though, was one of the most incredible performances in the history of the competition.

Braulio Estima, a two time CBJJ world champion, dropped down to the -87.9kg weight class for the 2009 tournament after taking home silver in the -99kg class back in 2007, when he lost to Xande Ribeiro (Ribeiro won the -99kg weight class again this year). In debuting at 87.9kg, there was some pressure on Estima, and he was not going to have an easy time with a weight class that included world champions in Andre Galvao and Rafael Lovato Jr.

On the second day of the tournament, headed into a semi-final matchup with Lovato, Estima put on a show, not only beating Lovato, but submitting him with a foot lock. Estima then went into the finals, facing Galvao, who was a favorite in many minds heading into the second day. Again, Estima finished with a submission, forcing Galvao to tap with an inverted triangle choke.

But the day wasn’t over yet, and Estima looked to compete in the Absolute tournament that follows on the second day. Filled with superheavyweights and lighter opponents, this was going to make for a tough division for Estima, but he continued to stomp the competition, working his way through the competition and submitting tournament staple and jiu-jitsu dynamo Marcelo Garcia. Estima worked his way to the finals against Xande, but Estima submitted his fourth world champion of the day to take home his second gold medal.

As the winner of the Absolute tournament, Estima will take on Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who beat Robert Drysdale in the Superfight on the first day by a score of 2-0, in the Superfight at the 2011 ADCC tournament.


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Third Time’s the Charm

Marcelinho, who had made a routine of taking home the -77kg gold medal since he debut in Abu Dhabi in 2003, received his first loss in the weight class in four tournament appearances, and against a rival he knows pretty well.

Pablo Popovitch, who had taken home two silver medals in ’05 and ’07, finally got the better of Garcia, catching a guard pass to win their match in the finals 3-2. Both Popovitch and Garcia had dominated the weight class up to that point. Marcelo, as expected, submitted his three opponents en route to the finals, and Popovitch soundly beat Don Ortega and NCAA champion Ben Askren on the first day, though only beat Gregor Gracie 3-0 to make the finals.

Marcelo, though, was unable to perform as he typically does at Abu Dhabi and, after the loss to Popovitch, failed to make the podium in the absolute division for the first time in six years (Marcelo didn’t medal in ’03, but took home the bronze in ’05 and silver in ’07).



A Strong Debut

There’s no question that, if he wants to, Vinicius Magalhaes will be able to go back to Abu Dhabi in 2011. After being cut by the UFC following two losses, the world champion grappler put on a strong showing at Abu Dhabi. Though he didn’t take home the gold in the -99kg weight class he competed in, no one can fault him the performance.

His semi-final loss to the seven-time CBJJ world champion and returning division winner Xande Ribeiro was not expected, but no one foresaw Vinny’s incredible, flying armbar submission win over former ADCC winner Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz. Magalhaes, in that -99kg weight class, posted submission victories in every match except his 4-0 loss to Xande and, with a slightly different bracket, Magalhaes may very well have taken home a silver medal instead of a bronze.

Vinny also placed in the Absolute division, losing 7-0 to a seemingly unstoppable Braulio Estima. Vinny took home the bronze by defeating Gunnar Nelson. It’s worth noting that though 7-0 is a pretty sizable margin, given that Estima finished four world champions on the road to winning his two medals, Magalhaes loss is definitely not without an impressive quality.



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Mendes Comes into His Own

Rafael Mendes was definitely an underdog as he stepped on the mat in one of the toughest divisions in the tournament. The semi-final round saw all four favorites, including returning winner Rani Yahya, four time world champion Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles and 2005 winner and ’07 runner up Leo Vieira. Mendes, in the lower half of the bracket, ended up staring down the #2 seed Leozinho.

Mendes put Leo out with a rear naked choke and ended up facing Cobrinha in the semi-finals, after Cobrinha beat Yahya, who was the top seed. Mendes took home a 7-4 victory over Cobrinha in one of the most exciting matches of the tournament.



Alzuguir and Staack Take Home Gold

The two women’s divisions were not exempt from huge upsets of solid favorites. The -60kg division was a great example, with #1 seed Megumi Fujii getting knocked off in her first match, when Hillary Williams finished her with a rear naked choke. In the bottom half of the bracket, Luanna Alzuguir beat out Laurence Cousin in the semis, and then Sayaka Shioda to take home the gold medal. Williams, who lost to Shioda in the semis, took home bronze.

Returning winner Hannette Staack brought her A-game, making her way to the finals, but #2 seed Lana Stefanac got knocked off in the first round when she got beaten by Rosangela Conceicao. Cris “Cyborg” Santos ended up taking home bronze after losing in the semis to Penny Thomas, but Santos’ finish was still pretty impressive, especially with her image as a pure, powerful striker. Her great grappling skills are definitely something for those who fear her muay thai game to keep in mind.



In Hindsight

As far as the overall event goes, this was definitely a year of upsets and underdogs. Braulio Estima is, at least for the time being, the king of the sport, but things change quickly and though he’ll be taking on Jacare and not competing in the tournament in 2011, there’ll still be those who are gunning for him every time he steps on the tatame.

Mendes will face similar pressure every time he competes, and while he may not have submitted his way through four world champions, like Estima did, his two big victories over two world champions lend a lot of legitimacy to his legacy, even at 20 years old.



By Josh Stein Staff Writer