At the 2021 IBJJF Worlds, top black belt competitor Nicholas Meregali was disqualified from the competition after making an obscene gesture during his ultra-heavy semifinal match against Victor Hugo. Meregali was initially awarded the victory, but was subsequently disqualified and forced out of scheduled finals matches in both the absolute and ultra-heavy divisions, canceling a highly-anticipated absolute finals match against rival Felipe Pena.
Now days removed from the event, Meregali released a statement on Instagram regarding the disqualification.
Meregali does not deny that he violated a rule, but he also believes that disqualification from the event was too harsh of a penalty. Meregali also calls on the IBJJF to do more to police its crowds, as Meregali has alleged that someone in the crowd was taunting him and shouting obscenities at him while he was competing.
Additionally, Meregali apologizes to Max Gimenis, who Meregali would have faced in the ultra-heavy final. Instead, Gimenis faced and lost to Victor Hugo — the man that Meregali beat in the semifinals — in the finals. Finally, Meregali extends an apology to Pena, who had campaigned to face Meregali in the absolute finals despite the rule violation. Ultimately, the IBJJF elected to cancel the absolute final, awarding Pena the gold by default.