Dream Matchups At The 2023 World Championships
These could be some of the most exciting matchups at the Pyramid this year.
On Thursday June 1st, the 2023 IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championships will commence in the iconic Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California. 2023 has been a year of tremendous growth for the sport, as we’ve seen record numbers of competitors and a higher level of technique than ever before. At this year’s major championships we saw new stars emerge and veteran World Champions put on the best performances of their careers. With the divisions now set for the Worlds, we chose a few of the many potential matchups that are sure to entertain in the Pyramid.
Nathalie Ribeiro x Anna Rodrigues
As a lightweight, CheckMat’s Nathalie Ribeiro has won titles at the Europeans, Pans, and Brasileiros, cementing herself as one of the very best in the division. For this year’s Worlds, however, Nathalie will drop down to featherweight, a division she hasn’t competed in since the 2019 Worlds. Awaiting Nathalie at featherweight is 2X World Champion Anna Rodrigues, who’s won every major title in the sport. Though ARod has won major title at featherweight, both of her World titles came in the light-featherweight division, so this is a matchup that wasn’t a possibility in the past. ARod has a very aggressive style of jiu-jitsu, often using her guard passing to take the back and finish her opponents. Nathalie, while certainly well-rounded, is a master of the spider guard, a position she uses to off balance and submit her opponents. This match would be a clash of styles between two of the most accomplished active competitors on the scene.
Tainan Dalpra x Tye Ruotolo
When analyzing Tainan Dalpra’s black belt career, the numbers simply speak for themselves. He’s won a total of eight major titles and done so in absolutely dominant fashion, going undefeated in IBJJF competition. Tainan’s x-guard, back takes, and fluid style of passing have undoubtedly been studied by all of his opponents, but none have found an answer to his extremely technical game. He’ll have some new challenges at middleweight at the 2023 Worlds, one of whom is Atos Jiu-Jitsu’s Tye Ruotolo. Tye is a 2022 lightweight World Champion and has one of the most unique and aggressive styles in jiu-jitsu. He’s known for throwing his opponents off their games with a relentless pace, perfectly timed takedowns, and ridiculous scrambles that he uses to create dominant positions. Can Tye solve the Tainan Dalpra puzzle? It’s a question that could be answered very shortly at the Pyramid.
Janaina Lebre x Brianna Ste-Marie
Female Grand Prix Champion Janaina Lebre has emerged as one of the best lightweights on the planet. Prior to winning the Grand Prix in October 2022, Janaina was having great results, but hadn’t yet won a major title as a black belt. She took silver at the 2022 Europeans and the Worlds, losing a close Worlds final to Ffion Davies last year. Janaina has a dangerous lapel guard game that she uses not only to sweep, but also to set up a variety of upper and lower body submissions. In stark contrast to Janaina’s game is that of Brianna Ste-Maries. Brianna was promoted to black belt in 2021 following a gold medal performance at the Worlds No-Gi as a brown belt. Though her game is extremely technical, it’s much more traditional in the sense that she primarily favors closed guard, half guard, and pressure passing. This would be another fun matchup from a stylistic perspective, putting new school techniques against a more “old school” game.
Isaac Doederlein x Fabricio Andrey
Although Isaac Doederelin and Fabricio Andrey are both black belt featherweight World Champions, the two have yet to face off in competition. Isaac won the 2022 Worlds on his 6th attempt, becoming the 6th ever American World Champion. The year prior, Fabricio Andrey won the 2021 Worlds on his first attempt at black belt. Though their paths were very different, Isaac and Fabricio both have an aggressive and well-rounded style of jiu-jitsu. Isaac has utilized the straight footlock to great effect in the past few years, hitting two of them in his most recent major championship victory at the 2023 Brasileiros. Fabricio has never been submitted in an IBJJF gi match at black belt and also has plenty of submission attacks of his own. In the 2021 Worlds final, Fabricio submitted 2018 World Champion Shane Jamil Hill-Taylor with a beautiful triangle, showing he can submit elite competition on the biggest stage in the sport.
Thalison Soares x Lucas Pinheiro
Thalison Soares rose through the colored belt ranks winning every major IBJJF title. He was a very highly regarded black belt prospect, and he was able to win major titles early on at the rank, winning his first black belt gold at the Worlds No-Gi in 2019. Thalison joined AOJ in April 2022 and added new techniques to his game, mainly from the top position. His investment in his jiu-jitsu paid off and Thalison won his first World title in 2022. While Thalison was competing at rooster weight since his black belt promotion, Atos Jiu-Jitsu’s Lucas Pinheiro was mostly competing at light-feather. His last rooster weight title came at the 2020 Pans, his first major title as a black belt. Lucas returned to rooster weight at the 2023 Brasileiros and looked better than ever. He had three matches, submitting all three of his opponents from the back. His back takes were set up from his pressure style of passing. Lucas’ top game, which is very unique for an athlete in his division would create a very interesting match were he to face Thalison Soares. Thalison’s berimbolo attacks and guard retention are some of the best in the world. Could Lucas use his pressure passing to pass Thalison’s guard or would Thalison be able to withstand the pressure and take Lucas’ back?
JT Torres x Matheus Gabriel
The last time we saw JT Torres compete at the World Championships was in 2019 in the middleweight division. He submitted Manuel Ribamar with a beautiful armbar from 50/50 and then lost a close match to Isaque. JT is back, and he dropped down to the lightweight division this year. Matheus Gabriel also competed at the 2019 Worlds, a year in which he won the featherweight division in his Worlds black belt debut. JT’s style is very reminiscent of his Professors, Andre Galvao, as he has great pressure on top while relentlessly attacking the back. Matheus can play top or bottom, but has lightning fast triangles and armbars from his guard. This is a matchup that could easily be one of the most action packed of the 2023 Worlds.
Kaynan Duarte x Erich Munis
Kaynan Duarte and Erich Munis are both 2X IBJJF World Champions, both winning titles in 2021 and 2022. Kaynan won his titles at heavyweight while Erich won at super heavy. At the 2023 Europeans, Kaynan moved up to super heavy, submitting all seven of his opponents between his weight class and the open class. Kaynan used solid, fundamental jiu-jitsu with impeccable timing to submit his opponents from the mount and the back positions. Erich is also a very technical athlete, but prefers a style based more around lapel guard and sweeping from his back and torreando style passing on top. We could see this match more than once, as it’s likely Kaynan and Erich will both be in the open class.
The 2023 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships start on Thursday June 1st and conclude with the black belt finals on Sunday June 4th. Watch all the matches live on FloGrappling.