IBJJF 2014 Pans Preview: Keep an eye out for these Brown Belts!
Written by Josh Sequeira
Michael Woolf Barnato – Adult Male Brown Light Feather
Last year’s purple belt light featherweight world champion is now gunning for gold at brown belt. The Ralph Gracie and Kurt Osiander product is fearless and an absolute workhorse. With a favourable bracket, Barnato has a great shot at winning his division. Woolf, like his Professors, is a great blend of technique and aggressive attacks.
Darson Hemmings – Adult Male Brown Light Feather
Darson is a very accomplished competitor with a clear goal in mind. Like his Openmat MMA teammate Eric Phan who was featured in our purple belt preview, he has lofty goals of winning a ‘Grand Slam.’ With a gold medal at last year’s Pans, and gold at the Europeans to kick off his attempt at a Grand Slam, Darson is arguably the favourite to win his division. Only Barnato and perennial contender Andris Brunovskis seem to have a legitimate shot at contending with his excellent open guard, berimbolos, and leg attacks.
Marcio Andre Costa Barbosa Jr. – Adult Male Brown Feather
Remember this young man’s name. The young prodigy is a clear favourite to win his division. A passing machine with a great open guard, Andre has won the worlds the last 3 years in a row – at blue in 2011, and twice at purple because he was too young to receive his brown belt after winning the worlds in 2012 as per IBJJF regulations. This Pans debut for the Nova Uniao golden boy should be an exciting affair.
The Alliance Young Guns in the Adult Male Brown Feather division
Looking to dethrone Andre are four Alliance competitors from three separate corners of the US. Jon Thomas from Alliance Atlanta, Isaac Doederlein and Jacob Sandoval from Cobrinhas in Los Angeles, and Joel Burgess from Marcelo Garcia’s academy in NYC are all legitimate threats to win the division. However, the question will be whether or not they can handle the pressure and relentless attacks of Marcio Andre. Thomas and Doederlein are matched up in the first round, and Sandoval and Andre will match up if both win their first matchups. The presence of accomplished talent in this division guarantees fireworks.
Ilke Bulut, Michael Liera Jr, Mansher Khera, – Adult Male Brown Light
All three are seasoned competitors with excellent competition resumes. Bulut, the Swiss sensation, has been competing at brown belt since 2011, and is the #1 ranked lightweight according to IBJJF Rankings. Khera, the Marcelo Garcia stand out, earned his brown belt after a mere 4 years of training through his relentless work ethic and exceptional competition results. Since earning his rank, Mansher has won gold at the No gi Pans and double gold at the No gi Worlds. Liera Jr has been a competition stand out dating back to his days in the juvenile division, and has won gold at the Pans 3 years in a row, including a double gold performance at purple belt last year. Bulut definitely has the easier road to the finals based on the brackets if he is on his game, but Khera and Liera Jr will potentially meet in the semi -final on their side of the bracket, and many believe that both have the skills to be crowned king of the division at this year’s Pans.
Timothy-Michael Spriggs – Adult Male Brown Heavy
The Lloyd Irvin standout has been on a tear since earning his brown belt last summer. Spriggs has done very well in a short span of time, including a double gold performance at the No gi Pans, and excellent performances in non-IBJJF competitions such as the Copa Podio, and the World Jiu Jitsu Expo, where he won the brown belt Grand Prix. Look out for this aggressive powerhouse.
Dominyka Obelenyte – Brown Adult Female Medium Heavy
Marcelo Garcia’s first World Champion student, the young Obelenyte is the reigning divisional champ after winning gold at the 2013 Worlds, and the #1 ranked Medium Heavyweight according to IBJJF Rankings. A very technical fighter, Dominyka will be very tough to beat after winning double gold at the recent Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in Montreal, and will definitely be a top fighter to look out for.
Josh Sequeira is an English major in university, aspiring high school teacher, and writer and content producer for Grapplers Planet. He is an avid competitor and student of the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu.