The 2021 IBJJF Worlds take place on December 9-12 in Anaheim, CA, with black belts scheduled to compete on Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first Worlds since 2019, making it one of the most anticipated and stacked world championships in recent memory. Read a preview of the middleweight division here, and a preview of the ultra heavy division here.
Simply put, the lightweight division might be the most compelling bracket in the tournament. Exciting matches are found at every turn, with ultra-entertaining competitors like Renato Canuto and Levi Jones-Leary potentially going head-to-head or against elite technicians like Matheus Gabriel or Jonatha Alves.
View the full bracket for the 2021 IBJJF Worlds lightweight division below.
Top-seeded Matheus Gabriel has a relatively clear path to the semifinals, although he potentially faces interesting opponents in Wellington “Megaton” Dias and Michael Liera Jr. on his way there. One of jiu-jitsu’s most technical guard players, Gabriel’s lone 2021 loss came to Andy Murasaki, who has been forced to withdraw from Worlds due to injury.
There are several compelling opponents for Gabriel in the semifinals. Multiple-time no-gi world champion Hugo Marques is an excellent strategist, but to get to the semifinals he’ll have to defeat veteran competitor Marcio Andre, as well as 2019 Worlds silver medalist Lucas Valente.
The other side of the bracket is loaded with elite talent and quality match-ups. With Murasaki out, Art of Jiu-Jitsu’s Jonatha Alves seems like an obvious favorite to make it to the semifinals at the least. Alves has looked dominant this year, with his lone loss in the gi coming against Matheus Gabriel in a razor-close match at EUG 1. A rematch in the finals would be one of the tournament’s biggest matches.
Across from Alves, things get interesting. Berimbolo master Levi Jones-Leary has all the talent needed to win gold at Worlds; the Unity Jiu-Jitsu representative could square off with no-gi world champion and ADCC silver medalist AJ Agazarm in his first match in what would be an extreme clash of styles. The winner of that match will probably face either Espen Mathiesen — another expert berimbolo player — or Renato Canuto — one of the sport’s most entertaining competitors.
In short, the lightweight division is stacked with competitors that have legitimate world champion potential. Gabriel and Alves seem like early favorites, but don’t overlook accomplished no-gi world champion Hugo Marques. Finally, grapplers like Levi Jones-Leary, Espen Mathiesen, and Renato Canuto all have world-class abilities and should never be counted out.
How to watch: The 2021 IBJJF Worlds take place on December 9-12 and will air live on FloGrappling (subscription required).