The 2018 world championships begin this Thursday in Long Beach, California. Each of the divisions are stacked with talent and we are looking forward to seeing the top competitors in the world battle it out to win the most prestigious medal in Gi Jiu-Jitsu.
There are many great potential match ups in each bracket but these are the 3 matches that we are looking forward to seeing the most.
Leandro Lo vs Nicholas Meregali
One of the biggest stories of 2017 was the upset of Leandro Lo by Nicholas Meregali in the final of the heavy division in last years World Championships. Up until that point Lo had been on track for a clean sweep of double golds at each of the major IBJJF tournaments in 2017.
However, the result was not a shock for many who had witnessed Meregalis progression through the color belt ranks and his performances at black belt in 2016/2017.
This year both men have registered in the super heavyweight category (100kg). It is expected that Lo will be the lighter opponent as he has just recently competed against Gabriel Arges at 85Kg at ACBJJ13 on May 5th. It is unclear whether Lo has chosen to compete at this higher weight simply to avenge last years loss or whether he is trying to give himself more of an advantage in the absolute category where he will be seeking to challenge the heavier Buchecha.
It will be interesting to see whether Lo chooses to stand with the young Alliance blackbelt as he did in 2017 or if he will pull guard and work for his preferred Single leg X sweep. Lo is 3-1 against Meregali in major competitions and will be the clear favorite to win gold.
Keenan vs Felipe Pena
Is 2018 the year that Keenan can finally get his hands on that elusive gold medal at the world championships? If he is to win he will likely meet Felipe Pena in the final.
Pena is currently riding one of the hottest streaks in the sport and has racked up the medals recently, winning gold at major tournaments such as ADCC, and the Abu Dhabi World Pro among others. Keenan himself has also been in impressive form this year picking up golds at the Euros and Pans along the way.
What makes this potential match up more interesting is that they are both 1-1 from previous encounters.
Both players will likely look to pull guard and play off theirs backs and look to sweep.
Joao Miyao vs Mikey Musumeci Jr
In 2017 Mikey Musumeci Jr became only the 4th American to win gold at the IBJJF World Championships.
Of the two Miyao has been the much more active fighter competing regularly in major tournaments whereas Musumeci has competed only once in a ACB superfight since last years world championships.
Both players have a similar style preferring to pull guard and trying to sweep with their own signature berimbolos. To date Musumeci is 5-0 against Miyao so will be the heavy favorite coming into the match. Whenever these 2 have met in the past the matches have been razor close. If the two are to meet this year we expect it to be no different.