Nicholas Meregali vs. Kaynan Duarte booked for WNO main event

Nicholas Meregali and Kaynan Duarte are scheduled to clash in a submission-only no-gi match in the main event of WNO.

On Monday, FloGrappling announced that it has scheduled a submission-only no-gi match between top competitors Nicholas Meregali and Kaynan Duarte, set for the main event of a Who’s Number One (WNO) event on Thursday, August 10, live from the Palmer Event Center in Austin, TX.

Both men competed in the 99kg division at the 2022 ADCC World Championships but just missed each other.

Meregali lost to eventual silver medalist Craig Jones in the bracket’s semifinals and would go on to win third in the division and second in the absolute. Duarte, meanwhile, earned his second straight ADCC world title.

The pair have met four times in the gi as black belts, splitting their rivalry 2-2.

Nicholas Meregali vs. Kaynan Duarte at WNO

Long considered one of the planet’s best gi competitors, Meregali burst onto the no-gi scene last year, earning an invitation to the 2022 ADCC World Championships after just several months of no-gi training. That training – done under the guidance of John Danaher at New Wave Jiu-Jitsu – served the 29-year-old well, as he defeated the likes of Yuri Simoes and Tye Ruotolo on his way to capturing third in the 99kg division and second in the absolute division.

Since then, Meregali has returned to the gi, putting on a dominant, double-gold performance at the 2023 IBJJF Pans, as well as defeating top no-gi light heavyweight athlete Pedro Marinho at Who’s Number One.

Earlier in the summer, before he squares off with Daurte, Meregali is slated to take on former ADCC absolute champion Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu at the UFC Fight Pass Invitational 4 on June 29.

Duarte has firmly established himself as one of the planet’s top gi and no-gi competitors since Andre Galvao awarded him his black belt in 2018. A gi world champion as well as a two-time ADCC champion, Duarte hasn’t appeared in no-gi competition since the 2022 ADCC World Championships.

In many ways, Duarte represents the stiffest test yet in Meregali’s no-gi career. Known for his prodigious physical strength, all-around skills, and sharp tactical mind (some may call his style “conservative”), the Atos representative rarely makes mistakes and has a proven track record of winning at the highest levels of no-gi competition. 

For his part, Meregali is arguably more aggressive than Duarte, generally taking an approach that tends to lead to more submissions. And while Meregali’s guard remains the most dangerous part of his game, his work with Danaher has resulted in big improvements to his guard passing and top control.

How to watch: WNO: Meregali vs. Duarte takes place on Thursday, August 10, and will air live on FloGrappling (subscription required).

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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