Keenan Cornelius: ‘No one cares about IBJJF Worlds anymore’

Keenan Cornelius has never shied away from sharing his opinion. An IBJJF no-gi world champion and one of the best black belt competitors of the past decade, Cornelius has been outspoken on a variety of topics surrounding jiu-jitsu culture, traditions and norms of the sport, and the constant evolution of jiu-jitsu as a whole. In a recent episode of his Matburn Podcast, Cornelius, speaking with his co-host Josh Hinger, shared his opinion on the IBJJF and what he sees is its diminishing importance in the world of jiu-jitsu.

Cornelius did not mince his words.

“They are no longer the premier event,” he said. “No one cares about IBJJF worlds anymore… Bro, that shit’s dead. Mark my words.”

With the rise in popularity of no-gi and submission-only events like Who’s Number One, Cornelius sees the IBJJF playing an important role for jiu-jitsu hobbyists that wish to compete, but he believes it is no longer the top event for elite competitors or fans of the sport.

“It serves a purpose for hobbyists now, I think… I know most of the competitions my students have done this year are just a million random competitions that people start, that are small that are not IBJJFs… Do they wiel the public viewership power that they used to? I think not.”

To be clear, Cornelius doesn’t think the IBJJF will disappear entirely. It’s role in the sport is and will continue to change, though.

“I think the IBJJF will always exist and always be a profitable business for them, but I don’t think they will have as much cultural impact as they had from 2008 to 2017, 2018… I think we’re gonna see a divergence of the gi and no-gi, heavily. And I think the media companies will pick a side… It’s a different culture now. There’s a gi culture and there’s a no-gi culture.”

The owner and head instructor at Legion American Jiu-Jitsu in San Diego, Keenan Cornelius is one of the most accomplished American jiu-jitsu players of the past decade. In IBJJF competition, he is a no-gi world champion and a multiple time Pans and European Open champion. Additionally, he is a two-time ADCC medalist and holds notable wins over the likes of Nicholas MeregaliKaynan Duarte, and Yuri Simoes, among many others.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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