Every two years, the no-gi grappling world is graced by its most prestigious tournament, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club tournament. This is one of the oldest running contests and is funded by the royal family in Abu Dhabi. Each tournament features a variety of competitors from around the world so there are far too many to discuss in detail here, so I will only mention the stars that you should keep an eye on by category.
Male under 65.9 kg division:
In the ADCC there is no such thing as a weak division. You literally have the best of the best under one roof and they are all ready for war. That being said, the under 65.9 kg features the triad of featherweight kings; Rafael Mendes, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles and Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes. Rafa Mendes is the current ADCC champion while Cobrinha is a two time silver medalist, however both Cobrinha and Tanquinho are 2012 no-gi world champions, which shows that they are still sharp with their game. These are the three heavy favorites in the division, followed by some wild cards like veteran Ricardo Vieira and the prodigy, Joao Miyao.
Male -76.9 kg division:
This division is no less competitive than its counterparts. Here we have a soup of legends, MMA fighters and top BJJ competitors. For strong favorites you have another triad such as Kron Gracie, JT Torres and Leo Vieira. Although Vieira is a little older now, he is a two-time ADCC champion (2003 and 2005) and has the most experience in the division. If his conditioning is sharp, don’t be surprised if he takes the entire show. JT Torres is a pan-am no-gi champion and earlier this year he switched teams from Lloyd Irvin to Atos, a BJJ powerhouse. With partners like Andre Galvao and Rafael Mendes, we can expect to see a new and improved JT Torres – a strong wild card. Lastly, we have the always dangerous, Kron Gracie. He has a very unpredictable and aggressive game - always looking for the sub. Even if he doesn’t take the gold, he will be one of the most entertaining athletes in the division. What is also something to consider about Kron, is that he has been unable to really capture any major titles at black belt, something that must be really crawling under his skin. This could be his big opportunity at a well-deserved major title.
Male -87.9 kg division:
In yet another stacked division, we have an interesting mix of larger and usually lighter competitors. So who are the strong favorites? The top three would have to be Rafael Lovato Jr., Romulo Barral and Lucas Leite. Lovato is already a no-gi world champion and he has ample experience – this could be his year to make things happen in the ADCC. A strong favorite in the division is Romulo who has been killing it in the gi for the last few years. Additionally, he is one of the most athletic world champions in the entire tournament, which always gives him an edge against his competitors. Lastly, we have Leite from Checkmat. A regular training partner for IBJJF absolute champion, Buchecha, Leite is a two-time no-gi world champion and also has the right amount of experience to make this year his best. 2013 is going to be a clash of the world champions, something you can’t miss.