[nextpage title=”White Belt” ]Torches have been passed, former champions dethroned, and favorites dominated in Philippine International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open held in the Mall of Asia Activity Center last January 31, 2015.
Over 250 competitors took part in the event, as the tournament attracted some of South East Asia and Oceania’s best grapplers from the white belt up to the black belt levels. Some of the grapplers who took part in the event have competed and won in prestigious international tournaments such as the World Championships, ADCC, Asian Open, and Abu Dhabi World Pro. Other countries represented in the event were Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, and Hong Kong.
Women’s white belt
In a division which only saw two matches, the Female Adults White Belt Division Galo champion was Marie Palanca of Team Fabricio. Palanca edged out Kimberly Custodio of Deftac Pilipinas and Glaiza Tangaha of Over Limit BJJ to claim the Gold.
Tough MMA’s Chen Ling Huang went through a field of competitors to win the gold medal in the Women’s Pluma White Belt Division. It took her three matches to win the gold, but her toughest match was in the finals as she had to go up against Atos Singapore’s Sueann Tan.
Judo brown belt and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu white belt Dany Ty dominated in her two matches to win the gold medal in the Pena division. Ty used her stand-up to dominate both matches as she won a closely contested match against Deftac Pilipinas’ Michelle Masuda, the younger sister of one of the Philippines’ best female grapplers, Maybelline Masuda.
Evolve MMA Singapore made its presence felt in the women’s Leve division, as Barbara Katter beat out Epic MMA’s Ramona Pascual to make her mark in the Philippine Jiu-Jitsu scene. Patricia Gomez of Deftac Pilipinas and Fatima Alhamoui of Nova Uniao Filipinas Team Konstriktor both took bronze.
Women’s white belt absolute Pascual would have her way in the women’s absolute division as she beat out Sueann Tan of Atos Singapore, to be crowned the white belt absolute champion for the tournament. Gomez of Deftac Pilipinas would place second runner-up alongside teammate Jamilla Cantos.
Men’s white belt
Team Fabricio’s Mark Co brought home the gold medal in the lightest weight class for the men’s division. Nova Uniao’s Ramon Sanchez fell short of a gold medal run, but came in a near second. In a field of eight competitors, Co had to win three matches all in all to emerge as division champion.
-64 kg Pluma
Seven members from Atos joined the Pluma division and considering the total number of participants were only 14 in that division, the chances of having a division champion from Atos was high. A division closeout took place as the top four spots in the division were claimed by members from different Atos branches. Royal Chang from Atos Singapore edged out division favorite Jean Philipp Maglonzo in a match that saw a good exchange in techniques. Jeffrey Limbonhai and Mike Zhang would take the third spot on the podium, next to their compatriots. Maglonzo won his last two fights via bow and arrow which gave him momentum but Chang would surprise everyone with a slick kimura finish over Maglonzo to take home the gold medal back to Singapore.
The Pena division saw a rare but achievable feat as teammates Rocco Nacino, Lester Yao, and Jielsen Babaran closed out the division by each earning at least two victories in order to secure another division closeout for Atos. Nacino, who has been training in the sport on and off since 2007 due to his hectic schedule as an actor for GMA7, relished his victory by winning his final match against the first guy who beat him in his first ever competition. Yao, like Nacino, submitted his first two opponents; the first match via kimura and the second via Ezekiel Choke. Yao also opted to step down and give Nacino the gold medal instead of going up against his teammate, a usual sight in a team closeout while Babaran settled for the bronze medal finish.
-94kg Medio Pesado
In the Medio Pesado division, since there were only three competitors and each came from different teams, the round-robin rule was established. Dean Roxas of Atos would go against Allan Geronimo of Team Fabricio in the first match. Roxas would go on to win his first match via triangle choke. The second match in the division would be Geronimo versus Mic Gallegos of Deftac Pilipinas. Gallegos would submit Geronimo via front headlock and this set up the finals match between Roxas and Gallegos. The gold medal would be claimed by Roxas who went on to win via bow and arrow choke.
Jan Yu of Deftac Pilipinas and Javyee Aquino of Atos ousted their elimination round matches via points which set up their final match in the Pesado division. Yu, whose first match was against Aquino’s teammate, Kukoc Curva, would win a close match against the latter, but would also grind it out for another tight match against Aquino in the finals.
-100kg Super Pesado
Jonathan Fisher of EMAC Thailand would foil a 1-2 finish by Nova Uniao Filipinas Team Konstriktor as he was able to defeat Lorenze Villaflor in yet another round-robin format. Villaflor’s teammate Julius Andaya defeated Jonathan Fisher in the first match, but Fisher would go on to claim the silver medal with a win over Villaflor. Since Andaya and Villlaflor were teammates, they opted not to fight which is why Fisher placed in between the two teammates.
Monash Grappling Club’s Muhammad Syahid Ismail would top the Pessadissimo division with a win over Robert Rubin of Atos. In a division which only saw two competitors, they only had one match to test each other’s strengths but Ismail would prevail in the final white belt division match for the day.
Men’s white belt Absolute
Ismail wasn’t done for the day as he would place silver next to his teammate and white belt Absolute champion Justin Tang. Another grappler from Monash Grappling Club, Chee Chan Chew, would roundup the closeout of the absolute division for team Monash. Coming in with the bronze medal finish next to Chew would be Nova Uniao’s Ramon Sanchez.
[nextpage title=”Blue Belt” ]
Women’s blue belt
White belt World Champion Margarita Ochoa dominated the Pluma division with masterful performances by beating out Team Fabricio’s Ivy Alcala and Kimberly Slider of Evolve MMA Singapore. Not in her usual weight division, Ochoa was still able to dominate despite facing bigger and heavier opponents, proving her worth as one of the country’s elite female grapplers.
The Pena division featured another round-robin tournament format wherein all three grapplers went up against the other two, in order to crown a champion. Ariene Lim of Trifecta Martial Arts would claim the top spot, but would win via referee’s decision with a 2-2 stalemate against Origins BJJ’s very own, Mara Rafael. Kaila Napolis of Ronin Jiu-Jitsu would round up the division’s top three.
Philippine Team member Annie Ramirez of John Baylon Clube De Jiu-Jitsu swept her division for the gold medal, defeating Geli Bulaong of Atos for the gold in the Female blue belt Leve division. Ramirez dominated her first match, which was against Atos’ Natasha Rodriguez, outscoring the latter 10-0.
Women’s blue belt Absolute
Ramirez’ work wasn’t finished as she proved her dominance once again as she stood atop all other female blue belts by winning the Absolute division. Rodriguez, Bulaong, and Ochoa who are all from Atos stood next to her on the podium
Men’s blue belt
Deftac Pilipinas superstar JR Rulloda reigned supreme in the Galo division, beating John Rejano of Atos in his first match and Oscar Santiago also from Atos in his second match. Rulloda was given the referee’s decision in one of the closest matches for the day.
Osamah Almarwai foiled an Atos closeout in the Pluma division by finishing with the silver medal against division champion Jar Arboleda of Atos. Tariq Saleh and Joseph Robles of Atos both bagged the bronze medal finish. Saleh stepped down in order for Arboleda to challenge Almarwai in the finals after the latter beat Robles in his second match.
Deftac Pilipinas would claim another gold medal in the blue belt division, as Vince Ortiz ruled the Pena division after defeating Gio Poblador of Atos in the finals and Mike Lim of Team Fabricio in the semifinals.
All three entries for Team Fabricio stood on top of the podium as Marc Lim, Michael Catindig, and Rian Serranilla closed out the division. Serranilla shared the bronze medal finish with Deftac Pilipinas’ Mark Cupino, but Catindig stepped down in order for Lim to be awarded the gold medal.
The Medio division featured two members from Atos and two members from Team Fabricio. Gold and silver finishes were awarded to Harvey Navarro and Francis Gregorio of Team Fabricio and Ren Loja and Allessandro Fantasma of Atos shared the third spot on the podium.
-88kg Medio Pesado
With only two competitors in the Medio Pesado division, Rafu Nepomuceno of Deftac Pilipinas only needed 1 win to secure the gold medal as he was able to outgun Will Macdonald of Team Fabricio.
Paul Juarez of Atos also needed 1 win to grab the gold medal and he was able to do just that against Deftac Pilipinas’ Jericho Tomagah.
Since the Super Pesado and Pessadissimo divisions only had one entry each, they were merged into one division and despite being one division lighter than his opponent; Jek Ferrer of Atos secured the win against Laurence Hook.
Men’s blue belt Absolute
What Monash Grappling Club was able to do in the white belt division, Team Fabricio was able to replicate this feat in the blue belt Absolute division with Atos’ Tariq Saleh sharing second runner-up honors alongside Rian Serranilla. The brothers Mike and Marc Lim were awarded the top two spots.
[nextpage title=”Purple Belt” ]
Men’s purple belt
Ken Noda of Ronin Jiu-Jitsu won the gold in a stacked Pluma division. Gian Dee of Atos was on a tear prior to the finals match against Noda, submitting his last two opponents via footlock and armbar. Dee would fall short against Noda as the latter was able to leap for a quick armbar as the purple belt from Atos pulled guard.
Team Fabricio’s Alcer Lozada claimed top spot in the Leve division but his finals match against Deftac Pilipinas’ Franco Rulloda was an incident that no one hopes to experience in competition. Rulloda had to be rushed to the emergency room after the two collided as both shot for a takedown. Lozada’s forehead apparently crashed into a softer part of Rulloda’s skull which caused a fracture which automatically gave Lozada top spot in his division.
Being the lone competitors in their division, teammates Jaguar Tang and Jerry Legaspi of Team Fabricio finished 1-2 in the medio division of the tournament.
Atos’ Bryan Lim went up against one of Ronin Jiu-Jitsu’s coaches in Manny Jimenez. Lim pulled guard and was able to sweep Jimenez early in the match. After battling for position, Lim was able to pass Jimenez’ guard and submit him via kimura to bag the gold medal.
Men’s purple belt Absolute
In the Absolute division, Atos would close out the purple belt division each earning one victory. Gian Dee, Bryan Lim, Rusty Ada, and Anthony Lim would stand on top of the podium, respectively. Rusty Ada would get into a wrestling match against Jerry Legaspi in the semi-final match but would take the victory in a match that was close all the way. Anthony Lim finished his semifinal match against Abang Saef of Marcos Escobar BJJ – Malaysia via cross choke. After getting swept from half-spider guard, Lim was able to catch Saef in his A-guard and secured the win with a cross choke.
[nextpage title=”Brown/Black Belt” ]
Men’s brown belt
Deftac Pilipinas’ Kyle Kapunan won a close referee’s decision against Atos’ Froilan Sarenas. Sarenas had to edge out Matthew Chick from Peter de Been – Australia before his match against Kapunan.
Men’s black belt
What most teams came to watch were the visiting black belts and how their respective professors would hold up against some of Asia’s best grapplers. Six black belts signed up for the absolute division for the tournament but Atos Philippines’ head instructor Ali Sulit had to pull out due to injury which saw Hansel Co of Atos go against Italo Lins from Trifecta Martial Arts. A black belt under Peter de Been, Co was unable to defend Lins’ attacks and was submitted via a choke from the back by the fiery Brazilian which set up a match against famed SEA Games Judo Legend, John Baylon, head of John Baylon Clube de Jiu Jitsu. Baylon is no stranger to international competition, beating out big names like Mike Fowler in a judo competition but Lins, a veteran black belt competitor and a black belt under Julio Cesar Pereira, outscored the judo veteran by winning the match 25-0. On the other side of the brackets, Shane Suzuki of Atos was able to beat Saigon Sports Club’s Chris Westfall. From a fan’s perspective, watching some of the best black belts in the world go against each other in the final was a spectacle. Suzuki, who won the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships at the purple and brown belt level, lost the close match against the Brazilian black belt with a final score tally of 2-0 in favor of Lins.
**Photos by Brvst Clothing