As the last gi tournament in the U.S. in 2022, the Waco International Open was the final opportunity for gi competitors to sharpen their competition games heading into the new year. The event featured great performances from both veteran black belts and newcomers to their respective divisions.
After losing the lightweight final 4-2 to Carlos Henrique, Pablo Lavaselli jumped into the open class, where he won three matches to take gold. “I won the first match of the weight class 18-0 and then finished a submission from the back. In the final I lost 4-2 to Carlos Henrique. Then I won three matches in the open class. The first one was via submission, the second was 2-2, 1 advantage, and the third was also by advantage, but I had an omoplata submission from the second half of the match until the end.” He also competed on Sunday December 4th, taking gold in the no-gi middleweight division. Pablo has competed nearly every weekend as of late and will look to carry the momentum from the latter part of the year into 2023.
The female open class champion was Emily Fernandez of Lead BJJ. Emily was promoted to black belt earlier this year by Professor Bruno Bastos after placing second at the 2022 World Championships in the brown belt lightweight division.
In October of this year, Dream Art opened its first U.S. location in Houston, Texas. With its new location, the organization hoped to offer more opportunities for its athletes in compete on the U.S. circuit. One of those athletes was Carlos Henrique, a brown belt World and Brazilian National Champion. Carlos was promoted to black belt by Isaque Bahiense in November and made his black belt debut at the Waco Open.
Carlos commented on his debut, stating “I already felt like a black belt since I earned my brown belt. Today was my debut at black belt. I didn’t put pressure on myself because I’m new to black belt, so I took that weight off of me and I fought. I submitted my first fight super well and the second I fought a very technical and strategic guy. I knew it was going to be a war but I was confident the whole time. I won the final by 4-2 on points. To be honest I don’t like to win my fights on points. I always like to submit but I believe that it won’t always happen as we planned. I have a lot to improve. I will continue the work to always come back better than the last time.” Carlos would go on to compete in the no-gi lightweight division the following day, taking 2nd place. You can catch him at the Worlds No-Gi, which kicks off this Thursday December 8th.
Pedro Marinho of Gracie Barra was the no-gi open class champion. His two victories helped his team place first for the no-gi divisions.
2022 Waco Open team results:
2022 Waco Open No-Gi team results: