ADCC 2019 Dark Horses To Watch Out For

The ADCC World Championship is the premier no-gi competition and routinely delivers exciting finishes and breakthrough performances. ADCC 2019 is no exception and with some of the most wide-open divisions in recent memory, it’s easily the most unpredictable edition of the tournament to date. The brackets have now been released and some dark horses will be looking to replicate Craig Jones and cause and upset in the first round.

Take a look at the dark horses to take home gold this weekend when ADCC 2019 comes to California.

Men’s Under 66kg

Dark Horse: Tye Ruotolo.

The lightest category is shaping up to be the most exciting with some huge names in attendance and several up-and-coming grapplers to challenge them. Despite being one half of the most recent BJJ twin prodigies and an outstanding performance at the ADCC West Coast Trials, Tye Ruotolo is flying under the radar. He seems to be overshadowed by the debut of Danaher youngster, Nicky Ryan, and the son of one of the best ADCC competitors, Kennedy Maciel. At the age of 16, the stage is set for Ruotolo to shock the world and announce his status as an elite grappler.

Realistic Prediction: Ruotolo puts on a great display, gets through the first round and then falls to the difference of experience in the second.

Men’s Under 77kg

Dark Horse: Ross Nicholls

Jay Chow/Figure 4 Promotions

Nicholls is one of a strong group of UK representatives at ADCC 2019 and has already faced four of his competitors, with mixed results. He’s been picking up momentum over the last two years including a stellar performance at the ADCC European trials. This led to an even bigger year this year, racking up 21 wins in 23 matches. It’s worth noting however that his two losses have come against competitors he might face, Vagner Rocha and Lachlan Giles.

Realistic Prediction: Nicholls makes it all the way to the finals before suffering defeat, taking home silver.

Men’s Under 88kg

Dark Horse: Mike Perez.

Under 88kg is the most unpredictable division at ADCC 2019 with no previous medalists in attendance. What gives Perez the edge here is his previous victory over one of this year’s favorites, Craig Jones. That doesn’t mean that the ATOS product will find this a walk in the park, far from it. With the presence of Adam Wardzinski and Josh Hinger, there’s still a good chance that the medals go to more established competitors at this weight.

Realistic Prediction: Perez goes out in the semi-finals and comes up short in the 3rd-place playoff against one of the aforementioned favorites.

Men’s Under 99kg

Dark Horse: Vinicius “Trator” Ferreira

This year’s No-Gi Pan-ams acted as a practice run for some of the competitors at ADCC 2019 and Ferreira showed he’s a force to be reckoned with. He came away with his third gold medal of the year so far after beating the fan-favorite, Keenan Cornelius. Nicknamed Trator for his incredible work-rate, 40 matches so far this year is a testament to his relentless cardio. Even though Gordon Ryan looks poised to take the gold in this division, Ferreira could very well be the man to surprise him.

Realistic Prediction: I honestly can’t see Ferreira losing to anyone but Ryan, if he doesn’t take home gold then he’ll go out whenever these two meet.

Men’s Over 99kg

Dark Horse: Nicky Rodriguez

Nick Rodriguez Instagram
Nick Rodriguez Instagram

Rodriguez is an absolutely incredible athletic specimen, in terms of sheer power he’s at the forefront of the heaviest division. That’s not his only advantage, he’s also a great wrestler training at one of the leading BJJ gyms in the world, Renzo Gracie NY. While Rodriguez is hardly an unknown, I don’t think many people are expecting him to get past the more established names like Yuri Simoes, Kaynan Duarte and Cyborg.

Realistic Prediction: Rodriguez dominates the standing exchanges for the first two rounds before losing out in the semi-finals, he then rallies to take home bronze.

Women’s Under 60kg

Dark Horse: Ffion Davies

ffion davies polaris 11

Davies has exploded onto the scene since earning her black belt less then a year ago, becoming the first British athlete to win the Brazilian Nationals. ADCC 2019 represents the opportunity for Davies to achieve the perfect end to her debut year. 2017’s finalists, Bianca Basilio and Beatriz Mesquita, are both competing but after Davies’ dominant performance in the last edition of the IBJJF No-gi world championship, a repeat of that final looks to be in doubt.

Realistic Prediction: I think Ffion is all but guaranteed to medal, but Mesquita is the reigning queen for a reason. She could meet Bia in the second round and that match will be make-or-break for where Ffion places.

Women’s Over 60kg

Dark Horse: Nathiely De Jesus

If it wasn’t for the fact that this was an unlimited weight category, De Jesus would probably be one of the favorites to win. As it stands, she’s going to have to overcome extremely significant weight advantages if she meets Tayane Porfirio or three-time winner, Gabi Garcia. I simply can’t see a lot of the smaller competitors in this class managing to outwork these two, but De Jesus is no stranger to the weight difference. She’s won both the IBJJF European Open and World Championships absolute divisions this year, ready for ADCC 2019.

Realistic Prediction: De Jesus should make it to the final pretty comfortably before Garcia becomes the first woman to win 4 ADCC championships.

Click here for more news on ADCC 2019. If you can’t watch the event live Grappling Insider will be doing live play-by-play throughout the event.

Alex Lindsey

Alex Lindsey is the managing editor here at Grappling Insider. Originally starting training in MMA in 2008, injuries and university slowed progress until he decided to put on a gi for the first time back in 2015.

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