With most of the major tournaments this year at a close, most of us jiu-jitsu nerds start to think about the kinds of matches we will want to see either in the remainder of this year or in 2016. Looking at the results of the Worlds, Pan Ams, Metamoris, Copa Podio, Five, and Abu Dhabi events (ADCC, World Pro and Grand Slam), there are more than a few match-ups we can come up with that would be very entertaining going forward, both gi and no-gi.
Lucas Lepri vs Rafael Mendes (gi)
Even though Lepri is a category heavier than Rafa, it’s not a huge difference in weight. Both these guys are as technical as you can get, and it would be insane to see what happens if they were to square-off. Lepri brings an extremely heavy and well-balanced top game, which could be a big difficulty for Rafa who prefers to play bottom with his dela riva and berimbolo sweeps. As seen with someone like Augusto Mendes, it could be a problem. So the interesting thing would be to see how Rafa could overcome such a strong guard passer like Lepri. Rafa doesn’t do the absolute division and Lepri probably can’t and wouldn’t cut down in weight, so something like this would have to happen in a pro invitational tournament like Metamoris, Polaris, Copa Podio, or Five Super League.
Erberth Santos vs Buchecha (gi)
Once upon a time, Buchecha used to be that young hungry guy that was going to come eat your lunch and take your world title if you weren’t careful enough. Surely enough he came and took it away from Rodolfo Vieira – who we all thought was unstoppable. Erberth Santos has the potential to be that bully in the absolute division. He is young, confident, and trains super hard. A Brazilian from Lloyd Irvin’s team who is full of energy - it would be very exciting to watch him square off against Buchecha, who is also very energetic. Both these guys are giants, so it’s always entertaining to watch them move like cats. Buchecha would definitely be the favorite, but it wouldn’t be a good match if there wasn’t that guy with the x-factor like Santos. Considering that they are in the same category, we could easily see this at the Worlds or Pan Ams next year.
Keenan Cornelius vs Felipe Pena (gi)
These two have already faced off at the World Pro, with Keenan just barely taking the win. These guys were made to fight each other. They are both similarly built, they are both hungry for the win, but their styles are different, which makes the match very interesting. While Cornelius is still the more unpredictable competitor, I think Pena will always keep him on his toes, so we will see Keenan go to his limits. Hopefully this match will happen often considering they are close in weight. This match would be just as interesting in no-gi as well. Both competitors made it to the finals of their weight category at the 2015 ADCC.