The 2023 European Jiu-Jitsu Championships are just a few weeks away and the registration is now closed. With 5,000 competitors heading out to Paris, this is a huge event that will have competitors from all over the world. Many highly ranked best black belts are signed up and are looking to win their first major gi title of 2023. One interesting aspect of the 2023 Europeans is that there are multiple elite black belts who have opted to change divisions. Whether these changes are just for the Europeans or if they’re permanent remains to be seen, but we will definitely see some interesting and unexpected matchups. The following are some of the high profile black belts who will be competing in a new division at the 2023 Europeans in Paris.
Kaynan Duarte Makes Super Heavy Debut
Kaynan Duarte will be making his super heavyweight debut at the 2023 Europeans. In 2022, Kaynan won his second IBJJF World title in the heavyweight division and the IBJJF Absolute Grand Prix. The Europeans will be his first time competing in a major gi championship at super heavy, a division where he’ll get to face new high level opponents. Two Alliance standouts, who Kaynan has yet to face at black belt, are also in at super heavy. Steffen Banta, who was recently promoted to black belt following double gold at Worlds No-Gi, will be making his black belt debut at the event. The Joao Gabriel Rocha student looked unstoppable at brown belt, winning Worlds, Worlds No-Gi, Pans, Pans No-Gi, and Europeans No-Gi. Marcus “Scooby” Ribeiro is another high level black belt who will provide a new challenge for Kaynan. He took super heavy gold at the 2022 Pans and also placed second in the open class at Brazilian Nationals. Kaynan will look to draw on his experience competing in absolute divisions to take home his first major super heavy gold medal.
#1 Ranked Fellipe Andrew Drops To Heavyweight
#1 ranked Fellipe Andrew will return to the heavyweight division after competing at super heavy for all of the major championships in 2022. Throughout the past year, Fellipe competed all across the world and was one of the most consistent competitors on the black belt scene. Towards the end of the year he began testing out the heavyweight division and had great results, winning double gold at the Atlanta and Houston Fall Opens. Now Fellipe will take on an incredibly tough heavyweight bracket at the Europeans. Other world-class competitors in the division include Bruno Lima, Gabriel Oliveira, Adam Wardzinski, Rider Zuchi, and Devhonte Johnson, among others. Fellipe’s last trip to the Europeans was in 2022, where he won the super heavyweight and open class divisions.
Espen Aims For Second Straight European Title In New Division
Norway’s Espen Mathiesen won his first major black belt title at the 2022 Europeans in Rome, Italy. He had always been able to perform well in major tournaments, but his 2022 European gold was the biggest achievement in a major tournament in his career. In Paris, he’ll take on the middleweight division as he looks to capture his second European title. The 2022 middleweight European Champion was Tainan Dalpra, who will return this year also looking for his second title. Espen has developed a reputation as being one of the best lightweight guard players, so a match with Tainan would be a great test for his bottom game. Tarik Hopstock, Vinicius Martins, and Lucas Protasio will provide other interesting matchups for Espen at middleweight.
Baby Shark Moves Up To Featherweight
Melqui Galvao Jiu-Jitsu’s Diogo “Baby Shark” Reis spent the beginning of his black belt career competing in the light-feather division, where he’s had plenty of success thus far. Last year Diogo took gold at Brazilian Nationals and placed third at the World Championships. At the 2023 Europeans Diogo will compete in the featherweight division alongside his teammate and 2021 featherweight World Champion Fabricio Andrey. As a competitor that often utilizes takedowns and plays extremely well from the top position, the featherweight division will offer Diogo many interesting stylistic matchups. One potential matchup that would be a great clash of styles would be with 2018 featherweight World Champion Shane Jamil Hill-Taylor, who will be competing in his first ever Europeans. With Diogo’s takedowns and top pressure and Shane’s lasso guard and creativity, this is a matchup that would be fast paced and dynamic from start to finish. Pablo Lavaselli, Israel Almeida, Leonardo Saggioro, Alex Sodre, and Eduardo Roque round out the absolutely stacked Europeans featherweight division.
2022 World Champion Meyram Alves Goes Up Two Weight Classes To Take On Lightweights
2022 was a massive year for Meyram Alves and his Dream Art team. Meyram started last year off by winning light-feather gold at the Pans. On his way to Pans gold, Meyram defeated Diogo Reis, Keven Carrasco, Tomoyuki Hashimoto, and Lucas Pinheiro. He would go on to compete at the Worlds where he would win four more matches, including a finals match over 2021 World Champion Diego “Pato” Oliveira. In his final IBJJF event of the year, Meyram fought at the Brazilian Nationals No-Gi, winning all four of his matches by submission. After going unbeaten in IBJJF competition in 2022, Meyram has set himself up for one of the biggest challenges of his career, moving all the way up to lightweight for the 2023 Europeans. This will be Meyram’s first major gi championship competing outside of the light-feather division, two weight classes below his division in Paris. 4X European Champion Marcio Andre and 2022 World No-Gi Champion Andy Murasaki, two of the most technical athletes in the sport, will join Meyram at lightweight. Whether or not Meyram’s pace, athleticism, and lightning fast guard passing can be adapted to a much heavier weight class remains to be seen, but his presence in the division will certainly shake things up at lightweight.
AOJ’s Pablo Lavaselli Makes Featherweight Debut
Argentinian black belt Pablo Lavaselli made one of the biggest changes of his career in 2022, moving to Costa Mesa, California to train full time at the Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy. The move came in June, just after the major gi championships had concluded. Prior to the move, Pablo competed at Brazilian Nationals, where he won gold, and at the Worlds, where he was unable to make it to the podium. It was a successful year, but Pablo felt he needed to make a change to reach his goals. Since joining AOJ, he’s been competing more frequently and working on different areas of his game, most notably his passing. Featherweight is one of the toughest black belt divisions at Europeans, so he’ll get the test all the new skills he’s added to his game under the tutelage of Professor Gui Mendes.
The 2023 Europeans start on Monday January 23rd and run through Sunday the 29th. Go to FloGrappling.com to make sure you don’t miss a minute of the action.