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Keenan Cornelius on Metamoris, Creativity, and the Current State of BJJ

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Photos by Stefan Kocev In just a few short years, twenty two year-old Keenan Cornelius has captured the imagination of every young athlete striving to make jiu jitsu a career. Notable for his mixed success at the white and blue belt level, something switched within the Hawaii-born fighter in and around 2011. As a purple belt, Cornelius won double gold medals at the four major IBJJF tournaments—the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Pan-American Championship, European Open Championship, and Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Championship. As a brown belt, he won 109 matches straight. In his first year as a black belt, he won double bronze at ADCC, closed out the Pan Ams and won bronze in the open division at this year’s world championships. After a strong showing at last weekend’s Metamoris, in which he earned a draw against ADCC champion Vinny Magalhães, Fightland spoke to Cornelius about the highs and lows of his life as a professional athlete in a growing sport. 

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