Uanderson Ferreira is one of the most highly regarded new black belts in jiu-jitsu. At the 2023 Europeans in Paris, France, he took on the brown belt medium-heavy and open class divisions and put on a career defining performance. His run to double gold was filled not only with victories, but also with electrifying performances that featured takedowns, guard passes, sweeps, and submissions.
Uanderson’s open class final was against Rayon Gracie, who had looked unstoppable leading into the match. The majority of the match was spent on the feet, as Uanderson and Rayron tussled for grips and looked for takedowns. The defining moment of the match came with about thirty seconds remaining, as Uanderson turned an outside single leg into back take and choke attempts that earned him three advantages. With the victory over Rayon, Uanderson secured double gold with eight wins, six coming by way of submission. In describing his performance at the event, Uanderson said:
“France is very cold and I wasn’t accustomed to the climate. All I knew was that all of the fights were going to be like a war and I was confident to step in there. I’m just having fun when fighting and I always know that it’s going to be difficult so I get to the mats with 110% will to win.”
Following his dominant performance in Paris, Uanderson was promoted to black belt by longtime coach Marcio Cerreira in early February. “I felt very happy and nervous because I know I need to work even harder to be the champion.”
Uanderson didn’t wait long to make his highly anticipated black belt debut, as he jumped straight into the fire in the medium-heavy division at the 2023 London Open on Saturday February 18th. His debut could not have gone much better, as he won gold and got the submission in two of his three matches. The semifinal was against CheckMat’s Jansen Gomes, who was coming off a black belt European title at medium-heavy. Their match was a masterclass of takedowns, counters, and strategy as both athletes exchanged techniques throughout the full ten minutes. Unanderson won the match by points.
“It was my debut at black belt, I was very nervous because there were very tough athletes in my division. But thank God everything went alright and I managed to secure the gold in my first tournament as a black belt.”
Though the London Open was a great challenge, it pales in comparison to what lies ahead at the Pans, where the medium-heavyweight division includes Matheus Spirandelli, Mauricio Oliveira, Pedro Machado, Elder Cruz, Mathias Luna, Lucas Gualberto, Rafael Paganini, Servio Tulio, Francisco Lo, and Sebastian Rodriguez. It is arguably the most talent rich division of the event, as any of these competitors have the skillset to take home gold. Expectations for Uanderson’s black belt career are high, but the 22 year old Rio native is planning to test himself against the best the sport has to offer.
“I’ll compete at Pan Ams, Worlds, and maybe the Asian Open. In my opinion all the fights are going to be wars and I am ready for all of them.”
Watch Uanderson compete at the 2023 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships on Saturday March 25th, only on FloGrappling.