Leandro Lo was more than one of the greatest Jiu Jitsu fighters of our time. He was a dear friend, teacher, son, brother and hero. Our heartfelt remorse goes out to those who were close to him, wishing them comfort in such a challenging time. As the weeks passed since his tragic passing, we wanted to take a moment to look at some of the extraordinary moments in Leandro Lo’s iconic career that occurred at the world championships. Leandro always brought the most exciting moments to the pyramid, all would make sure to catch Leandro’s matches when it was his turn on the world championship mats either in person or at home. In many ways Leandro was a symbol of the unique intensity of competition on those black belt days.
While certainly, no one article will be able to capture the true essence of this amazing fighter's career, we tried to capture those moments which showed best what Leandro Lo meant to the fans and fighters that he inspired in our community. Great champions such as Leandro are few and far between, perhaps what makes them a step ahead the rest is not the results which they achieve but, how they achieve the results and the inspiration they give to the next generation of fighters. Leandro’s spirit in the fight, the raw emotion of how he would sacrifice everything up until the final second to achieve a victory is unmatched. Combined with the modern style of guard playing and passing which he deployed, it left a deep impression on the techniques of modern jiu jitsu.
Leandro’s first of black belt world championship title came in 2012. In the lead up to the world championships the year before, Leandro whilst still fighting in Brazil defeated Celso Vinicius and Alliance ace Michael Langhi. Langhi had not been defeated in competition for three years prior to falling short against Leandro on that day. Lo fought the world championship in 2011 but was defeated by Kron Gracie. His second outing at the world championship would prove to be much more successful. The lightweight division, as in most years, was stacked. Therefore, Leandro was not seen as a lock on the top position. After five victories in the early rounds, Leandro squared up against Robert Satoshi. The match was an absolute scrap and one of the most memorable of the day, Leandro was able to achieve the victory with a 7 to 2 point difference. The gold would be decided against lightweight legend legend Lucas Lepri. Leandro would secure the gold medal and his first world championship with a tactical 2 to 0 victory over Lepri.
The black belt world championship gold in 2012 capped a year which saw him double gold at the no gi worlds, win Brazil nationals ( which some argued at the time was a bigger challenge than worlds), pan americans and more. While these titles are impressive in themselves, the fact that Leandro defeated some of the best lightweights in modern Jiu Jitsu highlights the type of year which he was having so early in his career. Multiple wins of Lucas Lepri, Michael Langhi, Theodoro Canal, Ed Ramos Dimitrious Souza, Philipe Monica, Felipe Preguica, Vinicius Marinho, Theodoro Canal, Roberto Satoshi and Rodrigo Caporal are just a few of the many victories that Leandro achieved.
At the 2013 world championships Leandro would defend his title and become a member of the even more selective groups of world champions who defend their titles. Leando defeat Lepri again this time in the semi final winning by advantage. He would defeat Lepri’s fellow Alliance Ace Michael Langhi again, this time in the final with a score of 2 to 0. This year Leandro would also give a peak to his ambition of winning the absolute title. Winning two matches before following to another Alliance star in Bernardo Faria.
2014 marked the first year that Leandro would increase his weight class, moving up to middleweight to challenge for the title. Leandro would start the competition on a low, after winning the opening match in the absolute, he would fall to the up and coming American Keenan Cornelius in a match which was a thrilling class of guard passing against the innovative new worm guard. In his weight class Leandro defeated his first two opponents, then beat young top contenders Sean Roberts and Victor Silvero ( advantage and 7 to 0 respectively). Next up was future legend Victor Estima of Gracie Barra, Leandro would win again with a score of 7 to 2 showing off his passing greatness against a top world class guard player in Estima. Waiting in the finals was another Gracie Barra great, Otavio Sousa. Once again Leandro displayed his heart and showed his complete skill set in taking the victory with a 9 to 6 win, securing his third world gold medal in a row. Showing the heart of the champion to battle back to gold after falling short in the absolute.
The following year would mark another gold medal for Leandro in a new weight class. At medium heavy weight (88KG) Leandro won the final three matches in the weight class against top Alliance talents. The finals was decisively decided with a 7 to 0 vi. Ectory over the talented Tarsis Humphreys. This year Leandro would fall short again in the absolute, being defeated by Bernadro Faria via armbar in the semifinal. Leandro was able to get revenge against Keenan Cornelius with a 8 to 6 victory in another match which was a tactical battle showing another evolution in the modern jiu jitsu game. 2016 Leandro won gold again at 88KG with defeats over Keenan (in the weight class this time) and Romulo Barral.
2017 marked Leandro’s effort to achieve gold in his fourth weight class (to match the world championship record) by moving up again, this time to heavy weight. After a successful run which included a victory over Mathius Diniz. Leandro would be defeated by Meregali of Alliance in the final 2 to 0. Equally frustrating for Leandro, he was defeated in the final of the absolute by his close friend and training partner Marcus Almedia in the final by an advantage. Perhaps no one has ever come closer to double gold medals and walked away with silvers than Leandro that year.
The next year Leandro’s dream would come true of achieving gold in his fourth weight class. An injury would force him out of action from the finals in his 5th weight class (super heavy). Marcus Almedia would bow out of the finals in the absolute to the injured Leandro, giving him his first absolute gold medal and gold at the world championships in his fourth weight class. Leandro would win gold medals again in 2019 and 2022 bringing his world championship gold to eight. Leandro’s accomplishments at the world championships and his amazing fights establish him as one of the greatest fighters to write their name in world championship history. Leandro will be remembered forever for more than the titles he won but, for the positive impact he made on thousands around the world. Rest in peace champion.
For those wanting to and able to support Leandro and his family, please see below for where to donate: