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March 3, 2024
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The Top Contenders For IBJJF Euro Absolute Gold

The IBJJF calendar is kicking off this weekend as the black belts take the mats for the European Championships in Paris, France – streaming exclusively on FloGrappling. Every division has its own intrigue and story, but the absolute will be super important for setting the tone for the rest of the year. Whoever wins this first major and stands atop the absolute is in the prime position to continue that momentum into Pans, Brasileiros, and Worlds.

With many of the usual names gone, this has become a great opportunity for someone to step up into that space and establish themselves as the next double gold threat. Last year’s majors champions like Victor Hugo, Nicholas Meregali, and Kaynan Duarte will not be competing.

So who are the top contenders to the throne? Who will emerge victorious with the most prestigious gold medal at Euros?

(Registration is still open for the Euros absolute division. The enrollment period ends on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 5pm GMT)

IBJJF Euros Men’s Absolute Contenders

Mica Galvao

Mica is back and he is on a mission to reclaim his place at the top of the IBJJF ladder – and the best way to do that is by winning the absolute. Mica, entered at middleweight after competing in the past at lightweight, is perhaps the most dynamic young athlete in the sport and has made it a habit of defeated larger, talented opponents in the gi. If he chooses to push for double gold, it’s absolutely an option.

This is Mica’s first IBJJF action since his ill-fated run at the 2022 IBJJF Worlds, where he won but was later disqualified for an adverse result in testing. That, combined with an injury, led to significant time off the mat away from competition but he is now back in full force.

Erich Munis

Erich may be the chalk pick to win the open class after his 2023 run where he excelled at every tournament he entered. The Fratres representative won the super-heavyweight division at Worlds and finished second in the absolute at both Worlds and Pans. Now he can begin his 2024 with a clean slate – and a potential double gold.

Erich, the lanky lapel guard player, will compete at super-heavyweight for his weight class, the same weight where he won Worlds. He’s an athlete who lets his game do the talking for him and will be a major factor in this bracket.

Fellipe Andrew

Fellipe enters this tournament on a high after winning the heavyweight division at Worlds in 2023 and The Crown’s inaugural heavyweight class. In addition, the ultra-active competitor is a former Euros open class champion so repeating the task is certainly on the table. Simply put – Fellipe Andrew can win any bracket he is entered in.

Fellipe has come into his own the last few years, especially after dropping down from super-heavy. Now, it’s a matter of extending his reign on top and the best way to do that is an impressive showing in the absolute at Euros.

Gutemberg Pereira

The newest black belt at AOJ will take the mats for the first time under new representation as Gutemberg has entered the ultra-heavyweight division. This is a really interesting change for him and Art of Jiu-Jitsu, because it now gives AOJ a serious option for double gold at every tournament (something they lacked up until now).

Gutemberg is a former absolute medalist at Pans, so he is certainly capable of getting on the podium but the new change of scenery may be what is needed to push him over the top and into serious gold medal contention.

Rayron Gracie

The newest black belt competitor in the Gracie lineage is making his debut this weekend at Euros when he enters the super-heavyweight. He will have some very serious tests there, but Rayron is also someone who has shown open class skill – winning the brown belt at Worlds last year.

Can the nephew of Roger make the most of his debut? It would be an incredible statement and he certainly has the pedigree for the job. If he can accomplish this, the sky is the limit for Rayron.

IBJJF Euros Women’s Absolute Contenders

For the women’s divisions, as things stand now there is only one true contender for the gold and that’s Gabi Pessanha. She is already the most statistically dominant female black belt ever – and considering her young age she is just starting. She just won her third absolute title at Worlds last year, won the Crown, won the BJJ Stars GP, and did it all with a sky-high submission rate over the best on Earth.

Any athlete beating her will be a massive upset, but that doesn’t mean the division won’t have many exciting, talented grapplers. Here are five of the competitors entered at Euros that stand the best chance of medaling and pushing Gabrieli.

Melissa Cueto

Cueto is coming off one of the best years of her career, winning Worlds for the second time in the heavyweight class. She’s one of the most physical and aggressive female black belts in the game and always brings action to the mats.

The Alliance black belt will be in contention for a podium spot, but did lose to Pessanha in 2023 by submission. She is one of the few who was able to score and make things interesting though, so perhaps with a little more scouting she can find the key.

Tayane Porfirio

Tayane is back on the IBJJF scene and she will add serious firepower to any bracket she is in. It’s likely she will have Pessanha twice, and after their first match at The Crown came down to a single position she may stand the best chance of anyone at dethroing the queen.

Porfirio missed significant time to a suspension from an adverse test result, but before that was a dominant force on her own. She’s a former absolute champion at Worlds so having conquered that challenge she is certainly capable of winning anything.

Yara Soares

Yara has been the Pessanha problem in the past, defeating her on multiple occasions before eventually missing time with a knee injury. Now though, Soares has returned and is making her way back to the IBJJF mats – where she will likely see Pessanha at least once in her division if not the absolute. Soares, a long, lanky guard player has a style that is tough to beat – tho Gabi was able to snatch an ankle lock submission at BJJ Stars last year.

Still, Soares will always have the confidence that she has done it before and can do it again.

Maria Malyjasiak

Maria Malyjasiak is really one of the most underappreciated black belts in modern BJJ. She is always on the podium, she always fights hard, and has tons of quality wins. For anyone to overlook her is a mistake, and she should be given more credit for always fighting and pursuing more accolades for her already lengthy resume.

Can she overcome Pessanha? It’s a long shot to say the least. However, she is absolutely someone who can podium and start her 2024 with another double medal performance.

Salla Simola

Salla is probably the least credentialed name on this list but she’s here for a reason – she’s very tough! Salla had a breakout performance at IBJJF No-Gi Worlds where she made the finals and now looks to continue that momentum into 2023. The Finnish athlete has all the tools to be another player in the absolute.

Who will emerge victorious? Will we see any dark horses not mentioned break through and announce their place among the elite? All of the black belt action will be going down starting Friday so don’t miss a second, streaming exclusively on FloGrappling.

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