Sign-ups for the 2011 Pan are practically done.
Some new names may still make the list, but not much will likely change.
The brackets aren’t out yet, but one can already get an idea of the big picture to unfold in Irvine, California.
So the blog fearlessly endeavors to unravel each black belt weight group and come up with predictions for finalists and a likely winner.
After the final check is done, we’ll be back to see if any big names entered the fray to change the outlook.
Black belt men
With three signed up, the division has Felipe Costa as a firm favorite. Brandon Mullins and Joseph Capizzi round out the list.
Final: Felipe Costa vs. Brandon Mullins
Champion: Felipe Costa
This jam-packed division gathers a wonderful array of talent. Bruno Malfacine, last year’s roosterweight champion, moved up a division but will run into his same old rival, Caio Terra. Carlos Holanda, the current light featherweight champion, is another serious contender. Rafael de Freitas, Samir Chantre, Wellington Megaton and Daniel Beleza make the weight class a hard nut to crack.
Final: Bruno Malfacine vs. Caio Terra
Champion: Caio Terra
The crew from Atos JJ will attack the division at full force. Rafael and Guilherme Mendes plus Bruno Frazatto and Ed Ramos want a repeat of their accomplishment in Lisbon, shutting out the bracket at the semifinals. In Irvine, though, they’ll have their work cut out for them: Justin Rader, Ryan Hall and Gustavo Carpio will be looking to rain on their parade.
Final: Guilherme Mendes vs. Rafael Mendes
Champion: Rafael Mendes
Since 2008, when Celso took the gold, the lightweight division has been the property of dynamic duo Michael Langi and Lucas Lepri. Signed up for the 2011 event, the two want to carry on their divisional give-and-take. Should they make it to the final, this year top honors will go to Lepri. However, as they themselves admit, shutting out the final has never been easy. JT Torres, Augusto Tanquinho, Davi Ramos, Philipe Della Monica and Rodrigo Caporal are sick and tired of Alliance’s divisional dominance and want their piece of the cake. And keeping an eye on Regis Lebre student Zack Maxwell would be a good idea.
Final: Michael Langhi vs. Lucas Lepri
Champion: Lucas Lepri
Claudio Calasans comes in as the favorite in another category with a vacant throne, since Kayron Gracie announced he will be saving himself for the Worlds. Runner-up in 2010 Abmar Barbosa, on the other hand, is in the running and should do swell, with grit to spare. Gilbert “Durinho” Burns moved up a weight class and wants to close out the middleweight division with his Atos teammate. In so attempting, the two will have to get past world champion Lucas Leite. And then there’s Diego Gamonal, Victor Estima and Clark Gracie.
Final: Claudio Calasans vs. Lucas Leite
Champion: Claudio Calasans
André Galvão is the favorite to take the division. Otávio Souza, the winner in 2010, wants his second. Beasts like Atos’s Vitor “Gigante” Toledo, Ian McPherson, Jason Ebarb, Marcel Louzada, Eduardo Santoro and Max Carvalho are also in the mix.
Final: André Galvão vs. Otávio Souza
Champion: André Galvão
Bernardo Faria is another champion from 2010 wanting to notch his second this year. The problem is that Rodolfo Vieira is signed up in the same division. And to make things wrost Ricardo Demente Abreu signed up to the same weightdivision. Roberto “Tussa” Alencar, Leonardo Nogueira and Diego Herzog are major obstacles to contend with.
Final: Bernardo Faria vs. Rodolfo Vieira
Champion: Bernardo Faria
With Demente at the heavyweight , Marcus “Bochecha” Almeida has all the chances to be the champion. Bruno Bastos is his main obstacle along with Orlando Zanetti.
Final: Marcus Almeida vs. Bruno Batsos
Champion: Marcus Almeida
Second-place in 2010, Gabriel Vella wants his second. To get it, he’ll have to beat Antônio Braga Neto, the superheavyweight runner-up in 2010 who moved up a division this year. Also in his way are Luiz Theodoro, Antôno Peinado and Stephen Hall.
Final Antônio Braga Neto vs. Gabriel Vella
Champion: Antônio Braga Neto
There’s no way of knowing who’ll turn up in the absolute, but there will be no lack of good matches. All the big stars from middleweight may show up. We’ll wager on the finalists and winner once the brackets turn up.
Did we forget anyone? Use the comments section below to place your bets.
Stay tuned to the GRACIEMAG at the Pan Blog and stay in the loop on all the goings-on at the 2011 Pan.