These names stand out as potential spoilers across the black belt divisions.
As the 2018 edition of the IBJJF Pans inches along, everyone is looking forward to this weekend when the black belts take to the mats. While there are a number of favorites that are expected to push their way through the tournament; there are some dark horses that can make this event even more special. These names stand out as potential “spoilers” who can send some of the favorite’s home before they experience winning the gold medal.
Women’s Light Feather
The women’s light featherweight division has the capabilities to steal the show when this weekend is over. If Talita Alencar is going to defend her title, she has her work cut out for her. With two other former champions in Gezary Matuda and Sofia Amarante in the bracket, it’s hard to tell who will come out on top.
But do not count out Patricia Fontes and Fiona Watson from the equation. Watson and Fontes are set to face off in a first round bout on Sunday that should not be missed. With all of these women being very familiar with one another on the competition front, it will be interesting to see how both Watson and Fontes perform because one of them can find themselves in the finals at the end of the day.
The World Cup has what is known as the “Group of Death.” At Pans 2018, that designation goes to the men’s featherweight division. Isaac Doederlein, AJ Agazarm and Gianni Grippo are three names that stand out, but do not lose focus on Marcio Andre and Jamil Hill-Taylor.
Andre is a multiple-time champion, holding victories in many major tournaments and multiple wins against Grippo, Doederlein and anyone else that could be considered a favorite in this event. He may not have the notoriety as some of the other names in the division and sport, but he’s highly capable of taking home the title on Sunday.
Then there is Team Lloyd Irvin’s Jamil Hill-Taylor. Hill-Taylor has quietly continued to improve and perform well at various events. His breakthrough moment came when he won the 2017 SPYDER Invitational and he’s an interesting prospect heading into the tournament this weekend. With his youth and aggressive style, he shouldn’t be counted out when compared to the more experienced athletes within this group.
Tim Spriggs is another Team Lloyd Irvin athlete that can play the spoiler this weekend. Keenen Cornelius has ruled over the super heavyweight division for quite some time, but Spriggs has the potential to change that situation. Cornelius has the better record against Spriggs, but Spriggs has shown he can defeat one of the biggest names in the industry. Spriggs has an uber-aggressive style that forces his opponents to react and it will be interesting to see if that game is successful against Cornelius if they face off in this weekend’s tournament.
Tournament events are the perfect stage for upsets. The NCAA thrives off of this season with “March Madness” but these types of upsets happen year around on the grappling mats. These names are just a few that stand out as potential spoilers come time for the black belts to stand at center stage.
You can watch the Pan Jiu Jitsu IBJJF Championship from March 8th-11th on FloGrappling.com.