WNO: Meregali vs. Marinho full card line-up and preview

View the full card line-up and preview of WNO: Meregali vs. Marinho, set to go down on Thursday, May 18, in Oklahoma City.

For the first time in years, Who’s Number One (WNO) will feature a submission-only match in the gi.

On Thursday, May 18, the promotion will touch down in Oklahoma City, OK for a card headlined by a 15-minute clash in the gi between multiple-time IBJJF world champion Nicholas Meregali and reigning WNO light heavyweight (no-gi) champion Pedro Marinho.

The rest of the card will showcase high-level no-gi matches and feature some of the sport’s best competitors, including local favorite Rafael Lovato Jr., Daisy Fresh’s Jacob “The Hillbilly Hammer” Couch, and no-gi world champion Dante Leon, among others.

Meregali vs. Marinho

Arguably the world’s top gi competitor, Nicholas Meregali hopes to solidify that status with a strong showing against Pedro Marinho.

While he possesses truly elite skills in all areas, Meregali tends to do his best work from his vaunted guard, employing a complex blend of single-leg x, x-guard, and De La Riva variations to constantly force his opponents on the defensive. To that end, one would have to search for quite some time to find an instance of Meregali’s guard being passed.

Beyond his top-tier sweeping game, Meregali is a submission hunter, through and through. He owns a dangerous loop chokes and armbars, but generally does his best submission work after he’s taken his opponent’s back. In his most recent outing, the New Wave representative earned double-gold at the 2023 IBJJF Pans, securing five chokes from the back position across just seven matches.

Standing across from him will be Marinho, who presents a unique set of challenges. Although he is primarily known for his accomplishments in no-gi competition, the Gracie Barra athlete is no stranger to the gi, winning the Brasileiros as a purple belt and taking home second at the 2021 IBJJF Pans.

Marinho is an excellent wrestler with one of the planet’s most feared guillotine chokes – a combination of skills that make him a handful to deal with. It’s the threat of the guillotine that gives his opponents pause when playing guard, thereby opening up opportunities for his explosive passing.

Both men are experienced in WNO submission-only matches, and endurance should be an issue for either. 

Lovato Jr. vs. Cruz

In the no-gi co-main event, longtime veteran Rafael Lovato Jr. will square off with Checkmat rising star Elder Cruz in a matchup that will likely see plenty of wrestling exchanges.

Known for his “timeless” pressure passing and classic submission game, Lovato is 39 years old but still very much an elite competitor. In his most recent WNO appearance, he suffered a decision loss to Meregali.

Cruz, meanwhile, burst onto the scene after an incredible run at brown belt from 2021 to 2022. And while his relatively slim black belt record may be peppered with losses, they have largely come against world-class competition and often in the gi.

Cruz is a superb takedown artist and he’ll certainly work to establish top position here. Lovato, though, is a more-than-competent wrestler in his own right and is unlikely to pull guard – at least not early in the match.

Check out the rest of the WNO card below.

WNO: Meregali vs. Marinho line-up

  • Nicholas Meregali vs. Pedro Marinho – Heavyweight (gi)
  • Rafael Lovato Jr. vs. Elder Cruz – Light heavyweight
  • Amanda “Tubby” Alequin vs. Alex Enriques – Flyweight
  • Jacob Couch vs. Izaak Michell – Middleweight
  • Dante Leon vs. Ruan Alvarenga – Lightweight
  • William Tackett vs. Francisco Lo – Middleweight

Preliminary card

  • Davis Asare vs. Nick Heflin
  • Austin Oranday vs. Troy Russel

How to watch: WNO: Meregali vs. Marinho takes place on Thursday, May 18. The preliminary card is set to begin at 8:00 PM ET and will air live on FloGrappling’s YouTube channel. The main card will follow and air 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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