When the IBJJF announced that the 2022 Jiu Jitsu Europeans would be taking place in Rome, Italy, many people in the jiu-jitsu community expected the black belt divisions to be ruled by familiar competitors. In years past, we’ve seen many Brazilian BJJ athletes travel to Europe to win European gold medals. This year, however, there were a lot more European BJJ athletes in the black belt adult brackets. Some, like Adam Wardzinski, were veterans of the event searching for their first black belt gold, while others, like Tarik Hopstock, were making their black belt debuts at a major event. One thing was clear, the level of jiu-jitsu and grappling in Europe is incredible. Below are some of the standout competitors from the event.
Espen Mathiesen wins lightweight gold
Berimbolo specialist Espen Mathiesen has been hunting European gold at black belt since 2018, his first year at the rank. Since then, he’s endured losses to Edwin Najmi and Manuel Ribamar, two of the top names in jiu-jitsu. This year Espen won three matches to earn his first black belt gold at the Europeans. In his opening match, he submitted Ahmed Laaribi with a triangle choke.
In his second match he faced Checkmat’s Lucas Protasio, a purple belt world champion who had a great run just weeks ago at the ADCC South American trials. The two exchanged sweeps but additional attacks throughout the match earned Espen two advantage points that got him to the lightweight final. There, he faced Marcelo Fausto. In one of the most exciting finals of the event, Espen was constantly searching for the berimbolo. Although he was unable to secure the back position, he was able to win the match by a score of 4-4, leading four advantages to Marcelo’s three.
Tainan Dalpra turns away the vikings
Tainan is quickly looking to be the generation talent in jiu jitsu that some have been whispering about. The AOJ trained black belt put on another dominate preformance in the gi. To reach the finals Tainan had to navigate one of the most difficult divisons of the competition. After a bye and two solid victories over stiff competition Tainan faced off with Tarik Hopstock in a semifinal showdown. Tarik was making his debut at black belt but, his quest for black belt gold would end swiftly falling to a submission early in the match. In the finals Tainan was able to work an armbar on Langaker to secure the gold.
Portugal’s Bruno Lima takes medium-heavyweight division
Prior to the 2022 Europeans, Bruno’s best finish at the event was a 2nd place finish in 2020. Bruno had a total of 4 fights, and mainly used his passing game to lead him to victory. The opponents he beat on the way to the final included Remo Corstjens, Luca Anacoreta, and Matheus Spirandelli, all high caliber opponents with excellent jiu-jitsu.
In the final, Bruno met Szilard Sule of ZR Team. He used the same passing strategy as he did in previous matches, pressuring Sule’s guard throughout. Although he was unable to pass the guard, Bruno earned two advantages for his efforts, and brought home his first European gold at black belt. Bruno has long been poised for breakout at the black belt, perhaps this is the year?
Adam Wardzinski wins first Euros gold in 5th try at black belt
At the last edition of the Europeans in 2020, Adam Wardzinski looked to be on his way to a gold medal but ended up falling short in the final against jiu-jitsu wizard Keenan Cornelius by a single advantage. This year Wardzinski was a man on a mission, entering the open class in addition to the heavyweight division. In his weight class, Adam secured two victories on his way to the final against judo and BJJ black belt Dom Bell of Atos.
Adam started the final off with a slick double pant control sweep from single leg x and then nearly mounted and took the back off a guard pass. Dom defended the back take and ended up on top in closed guard, where Adam controlled him for much of the time that was left, earning a 2-0 victory and his first European title.
In the open class, Adam won four matches before running into Yatan Bueno in the semis, losing 9-0 on three guard passes from Bueno and earning a third place finish for his efforts.
Mayssa Basotos continues her dominance
The Brazilian ace continued her winning ways after picking up two victories and another Grand Slam title in Rome. Basotos's Jiu Jitsu has never been better since she arrived to Unity some time ago. Expect another big year for this explosive talent at the Light Feather weight category.
Arod smashes through the Featherweight Divison
Ana "Arod" Rodrigues puts on another steller prefomance against some of the best in Europe. The Brazilian submission hunter from Dream Art showed her wide skill set picking up high level techniques and precision submissions. A bye in the first round with two vicotories in the following rounds saw Arod score a finals victory over Gaberilla Pereira of Qatar BJJ / Vision Brasil. Arod's jiu jitsu is always exciting to watch and this weekend was no exception
Special shout out to Progress sponsored athlete Lois Marsh who scored double gold in the blue belt Juvenile divison. All of her victories came by submission! What a great way to start her 2022 competition season.
A full list of the Black Belt gold medalists can be seen below:
Rooster weight – Thalison Soares
Light featherweight – Hiago George
Featherweight – Diego Sodre
Lightweight – Espen Mathiesen
Middleweight – Tainan Dalpra
Middle heavyweight – Bruno Lima
Heavyweight – Adam Wardzinski
Super heavyweight - Fellipe Andrew
Ultra-heavyweight – Rafael Lovato Jr.
Open class – Fellipe Andrew
Rooster weight – Thais Loureiro
Light featherweight – Mayssa Bastos
Featherweight – Anna Rodrigues
Lightweight – Nathalie Ribeiro
Middleweight – Thalyta Silva
Middle heavyweight – Maggie Grindatti
Super heavyweight – Gabrieli Pesanha
Open class - Gabrieli Pesanha
Hope you have gotten to catch some of the action from over the weekend. See you on the mats soon.
- Progress Jiu Jitsu