2022 was a huge year for jiu-jitsu. From epic matches and submissions at the major gi and no-gi tournaments to the incredible performances we saw at the grand prix events, 2022 was a year that will go down in the history books as a period of growth and development for the sport. Jiu-Jitsu evolves every year, and this year we saw more competitors and a higher level of technique than ever before. Events like Jiu-Jitsu CON truly showcased how far jiu-jitsu has come and also it’s potential for being one of the biggest sports in the world. There were countless standout athletes, incredible matches and submissions, and some new athletes inducted into the IBJJF Hall of Fame. The following is a look at some of the highlights of 2022.
Standout Athletes of 2022
There were many athletes who had the best years of their careers in 2022. Gabrieli Pessanha of Infight Jiu Jitsu is certainly at the top of the list. She didn’t lose a single match throughout the year and won double gold at every major gi event, achieving the double grand slam and the #1 overall ranking for adult female black belts. Throughout her wins she used a well rounded game and submitted her opponents in more than half of her matches. Though she had some close matches in 2022, overall she was very dominant. Her last loss in competition came to Yara Soares of Dream Art at the 2021 Brazilian Nationals, an opponent she defeated three times in 2022. Gabrieli will pick right back up where she left off next year, as she’ll be competing at the 2023 Europeans in Paris, France.
Another athlete who did not lose a single match in competition in 2022 was AOJ’s Tainan Dalpra. The middleweight star won European, Pan, and Worlds gold, defeating many of the top names in the sport. Like Gabrielli, Tainan was just as effective from bottom as he was from top. He used his positional dominance not just for control but also to setup his submission attacks. Not only was Tainan undefeated in 2022, he hasn’t lost a single IBJJF match at black belt.
This year’s open class World Champion was Nicholas Meregali. Known for his aggressive, submission focused style of jiu-jitsu, Nicholas took his game to another level in 2022. He submitted three of his four opponents on his way to open class gold at the Worlds, putting on one of the best performances of his career. In addition to his open class World title, Nicholas also won gold at the 2022 Brazilian Nationals.
#1 ranked adult male black belt Fellipe Andrew was likely the most active adult black belt in 2022. He started his year taking double gold at the Europeans and didn’t slow down throughout the rest of the year. He took 2nd at the Pans and Brazilian Nationals, and double bronze at the Worlds. Fellipe’s results were impressive, but even more impressive was his consistency in competition. He competed in the major events but also travelled all over the world to fight in open tournaments, honing his skills and testing himself in no-gi and in a new weight class. Up next for Fellipe are the 2023 Europeans in January.
2022 also had two Grand Prix events. The first event featured the first ever female GP and a male medium-heavy GP. The second was the IBJJF Absolute GP. This year’s GP champions were Janaina Lebre, Isaque Bahiense, and Kaynan Duarte. Other standout competitors included Ffion Davies, Bianca Basilio, Andy Murasaki, Andressa Cintra, Ana Carolina Vieira, Elisabeth Clay, Nathalie Ribeiro, and Anna Rodrigues.
Best Matches of the Year
2022 marked the inaugural IBJJF FloGrappling Female Grand Prix. Mayssa Bastos, Luiza Monteiro, Janaina Lebre, and Anna Rodrigues were the four competitors in the historic event. It was Janaina Lebre, the final addition to the lineup, who came away with the first Female GP title. The final was against 2X World Champion Anna Rodrigues. Janaina started the match strong, using a knee cut pass to expose Anna’s back, where Janaina was able to secure the hooks and the four points. Anna escaped the position and nearly passed Janaina’s guard, but Janaina used her foot in Anna’s lapel to prevent the pass and seal the victory. The back and forth match and having the title of first ever Female GP champion up for grabs made this one of the best matches of 2022.
The 2022 Worlds ultra heavy final was between two of the most dynamic and technical athletes in the sport, Gutemberg Pereira of GF Team and Victor Hugo of Six Blades. Gutemberg took the lead early on, sweeping Victor after a tight armbar attempt and then racking up four advantages while on top trying to pass the guard. Gutemberg appeared to be on his way to a black belt World title, as he secured double under hooks and was close to passing with a knee cut. Victor fought his way out of the double under hooks, secured a grip on Gutemberg’s far pant leg, and then swept, passed, and mounted. The final score was 9-2 and was an amazing display of technique and grit from both competitors.
Other great matches in 2022 included the Worlds medium-heavy final between Leandro Lo and Isaque Bahiense and Rafael Lovato Jr. against Erberth Santos’s match at the 2022 Worlds.
Best Submissions of the Year
Francisco Lo won the 2022 Brazilian Nationals in the medium-heavy division and was promoted to black belt shortly after. He burst onto the black belt scene in impressive fashion, winning gi and no-gi gold at the Sao Paulo Open. At the Pan No-Gi, Francisco competed in the medium-heavy division, one of the toughest divisions of the event. His first match was against Oliver Taza, a no-gi competitor who also had great results in 2022. As Oliver was playing seated guard looking for a grip, Francisco jumped past his legs right into a triangle, finishing with an armbar. It was one of the most explosive and dynamic submissions of the year and helped Francisco earn a bronze medal at the event.
At the 2022 European Championships, Tainan Dalpra met Tommy Langaker in the middleweight final. It was Tommy and Tainan’s second time competing in the span of about two months as the two had met in the semifinals of the 2021 World Championships in December. The match started with Tainan and Tommy exchanging sweeps. Up 4-2, Tainan worked to pass Tommy’s guard, which led to Tommy turning his back. As Tainan appeared to go for the back, he opted for the arm instead, getting the armbar submission finish just over six minutes into the European middleweight final.
Piter Frank’s lapel choke in the Master 2 middleweight final at Worlds Master and Andy Murasaki’s heel hook in the middleweight final of Worlds No-Gi were two more incredible submissions in 2022.
Six New Hall of Fame Inductees Added in 2022
At the 2022 IBJJF World Championships, six new athletes were added to the IBJJF Hall of Fame. Prior to their induction, only 24 athletes had made to the prestigious Hall of Fame. The 2022 inductees were Andre Galvao, Bia Mesquita, Guillherme Mendes, Rafael Mendes, Lucas Lepri, and Bernardo Faria. These athletes not only had incredible jiu-jitsu and won countless World titles, they also gave back and invested their knowledge and experience in the jiu-jitsu community.
We hope you enjoyed all the amazing moments jiu-jitsu provided us in 2022. We will see you in 2023 for more incredible moments in our sport.