2013 IBJJF Houston International Open Preview – What to expect on February 16th-17th
HOUSTON, TX, February 11, 2013 – The 2013 IBJJF Houston International Open is right around the corner with all the action set to take place at the Jerabeck Activity and Athletic Center at St. Thomas University this coming weekend, February 16th and 17th, beginning bright and early Saturday morning and ending with the black belt absolute on Sunday afternoon. As always, TXMMA will be there to cover the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament action and this will mark competition #4 in our TXMMA tournament season.
Now if you took a look at the competitor list at some point last week you might have been a bit disappointed by the lack of “star presence” as compared to last year’s tournament that included Andre Galvao, The Mendes brothers, Ryan Hall, Gianni Grippo, Keenan Cornelius and eventual absolute winner JT Torres. That was truly a culmination of talent in 2012 and the bare cupboards on this year’s list may have been a bit of a downer but we can all rest at least a little bit easier with the last minute inclusion of some more top talent to wage war on the mats in Houston.
The black belt names now set to compete in the 2013 IBJJF Houston Open include Oklahoma’s Rafael Lovato Jr. who’ll face a bare super-heavy weight class but should be favored in an absolute division that should also include ultra-heavy competitors Luis Rubalcava (Alliance) and Gabriel Garcia (Ralph Gracie) along with Nova Uniao’s Bastos Brothers (Bruno and Ricardo).
Likewise, both Rafael Mendes and Guilherme Mendes (Atos) have both signed up to compete in the featherweight division as they accompany several students down to Texas from their Costa Mesa, CA academy. They’ll be competing against a divisional field that includes recent UAEJJ World Pro Trials winner Gabriel Martins (Gracie Barra) along with Gustavo Carpio (Marra Senki) and Spenser Gilliam (SMAA). One can only hope that the universally ranked pound-for-pound Rafa will test the waters in the absolute just as he did in the UAE when he took on Rodolfo Vieira back in 2011.
As for the rest of the adult black belt divisions, they look a bit light but more action can be seen in the masters as well with guys like Alejandro Siquira (GB) and Alex Martins (Paragon) set to compete at middleweight and other Texas-based instructors like Ulpiano Malachias (GB), Jeff Messina (BJJ Revolition), Igor Santos (GFTeam) and Alan Shebaro (Tier-1) all on the roster for this weekend.
Of course there’s plenty of action to look forward to in the lower belt divisions as well.
For example at brown belt, Nova Uniao’s Kaue Damasceno will be looking to ride the wave of his UAEJJ San Antonio Trials performance (including a win over Rodrigo Pinheiro) to win his weight and absolute one more time. He might be joined in the open by whoever wins a middleweight division that includes a pair of Paragon products in Ryan Sosa and Jose Portillo along with 2012 US Nationals winner Julian Vega (Elite MMA) amongst others.
Other brown belt matches to look forward to include Travis Orr (Gracie Legacy) vs. Omar French (Renato Tavares) and Samuel Snow (Alliance) vs. John Alfeche (Elite MMA).
Meanwhile purple belt should once again prove to have some of the most exciting action once again as this level looks to have some of the most competitive divisions of the entire tournament.
At lightweight you’ve got Matthew Fox and Cody Hoffstatter (Soul Fighters) competing with guys like Brandon Russell (Lovato) and Roman Hernandez (Alliance) once again. Then there’s a field at middle that includes Michael Foster (Alliance) and Ralph Sebexen (SMAA) and a field at medium-heavy that could include a possible showdown featuring Pedro Migliano (Rilion Gracie) and Evan Gideon (GFTeam). Likewise, the heavy division features Braden Masters (Avengers) and Reed Shelger (GFTeam) who could reprise their competitive duel at the same tournament last year while Jared Dopp (Lovato) and Ryne Sandhagen (Alvarez BJJ) might have their own rematch from their recent absolute final match at the San Antonio World Pro Trials). Throw in Dallas Niles from Lovato’s along with everybody else and it’s bound to be a party when it comes time for absolutes to be contested.
Of course there’s plenty of other divisions and names we haven’t dropped (read: purple female light – Maria Magana, Lora Hallock, Lana Hunter, and GracieMag’s own Erin Herle) but we assure you there’s a lot of other
If the action is anything like the match below for the purples and all the other divisions, this weekend’s 2013 IBJJF Houston Open could well make up for what it lacks in 2012 star power with all the action on the mats.
We’ll see you guys Saturday and Sunday in Montrose!
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