On November 22nd, Copa Podio will continue their exciting competition series with a third season of the Middleweight Grand Prix. Copa Podio is by far the most intense invitational tournament for jiu-jitsu in the world. To win the grand prix, athletes must fight several times in one night against some of the toughest and most unpredictable competitors in the world.
Why are many of these athletes unpredictable? It’s because Copa Podio makes an effort to showcase unknown top athletes to the mainstream. Felipe Preguica is an example of this foresight. Copa Podio had featured him as a wild card brown belt that did exceptionally well. They weren’t wrong to give him the opportunity, Preguica ended up winning the black belt heavyweight division in 2014. For this event, Preguica will be defending his middleweight grand prix title against nine new challengers.
Copa Podio has its usual mix of superfights and Grand Prix bouts. The main fight of the night will feature Gianni Grippo versus Joao Miyao and Leandro Lo vs Gilbert Durinho in sub-only matches.
The Grippo versus Miyao fight is a classic berimbolo master match. Hopefully the entire bout will not be Berimbolo attempts off their butts, but don’t hold your breath. Otherwise it can be a very dynamic match as both fighters are both aggressive and like to take chances. Expect Grippo to make the first mistake and have his back taken by Miyao for the choke. Also, have some popcorn ready – this is going to be a long match.
Lo versus Durinho is a far more exciting match on paper. Both athletes are world champions but Durinho chose to focus his attention on MMA, so we have not seen as much of him on the BJJ scene as Lo, who was able to conquer the world title three times while Durinho has only won once. They have faced each other before, both in gi and nogi, but Durinho was victorious every time. This is Lo’s chance for revenge.
Who will win? Technically both these guys are as good as it’s going to get. Lo usually has an edge over his opponent’s because he is able to push the pace. Unfortunately for him, Durinho is unbelievably athletic and won’t tire easily – he will be able to keep up with Lo’s pace. Expect a long match, with Lo eventually tiring first and making the first mistake to get submitted.
For the Grand Prix segment, we have a huge stack of up and coming athletes that you will probably hear about a lot more after November 22nd. Of these nine challengers, the few that you should keep an eye on are Claudio Calasans from Atos, Luis Panza from Checkmat and Gregor Gracie from the Renzo Gracie Association. These are all tough and very physically gifted athletes. However, although Luis Panza and Gregor Gracie are game competitors, neither of them have the balance of experience and ability that Calasans has. Calasans has been more active on the jiu-jitsu scene and has a strong background in judo to compliment his jiu-jitsu. My predicition is that Calasans and Preguica will make it to the finals. But, ultimately, expect Preguica to be the victor after a hard fought and close match.