The black belt matches in the IBJJF, especially in the absolutes division, are some of the most anticipated matches every year. Both rising talents and legends of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu started from making their names known as colored belts, then worked their way to the top. Today, we will talk about the most exciting colored belt matches in the IBJJF worthy of recognition.
Colored Belts In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
The definition of a colored belt in BJJ is any belt color that is below the black belt. It can be a blue, purple, or brown belt. To progress in rank (color) in BJJ means that your grasp of the fundamentals and skills in the art are improving.
In Jiu-Jitsu, a blue belt is someone who has a solid understanding of the fundamentals and is capable of beating a bigger, untrained opponent. Although they’re still missing certain higher-level positions, the blue belt is when students begin to explore and improve either their passing or guard game.
The purple belt is probably the biggest leap in terms of skill quality in the belt system of BJJ. The purple belt’s skill may already be the same as a black belt as they have already developed a solid game, becoming masters of one technique or another. They just need to spend more time polishing their techniques to enhance their already diverse knowledge.
Brown belts are highly skilled grapplers that have mastered more than one position. They are versatile and can flow and apply heavy pressure well. A brown belt may already be considered a black belt, the only difference is the time and other details like timing and the anticipation of moves compared to a black belt.
Most Exciting Colored Belt Matches In The IBJJF
Colored belt matches are when BJJ athletes begin to put a spotlight on themselves. It is a reminder for the audiences that a new face is getting ready to take over the rankings someday. Below are the most exciting colored belt matches in the IBJJF of rising stars and BJJ legends that you shouldn’t miss.
1) Kron Gracie Vs Tom DeBlass
In 2008, Kron had a 51-win streak, all by submissions, making his name in the colored belt division while running through BJJ’s major tournaments. He defeated Tom DeBlass in the absolute of brown belts division in 2008. Tom is one of the most respected athletes in BJJ and is the coach of Garry Tonon, who later faced Kron in one of the greatest ADCC matches of all time.
Kron is regarded as one of the best brown belts in history. He won the Pan American in 2008, submitting all of his opponents in his weight category and in the absolute division. His win over DeBlass sent a message that his skills are way above the division, resulting in his promotion to a black belt in 2008 by his father, Rickson Gracie.
2) Keenan Cornelius Vs Joao Miyao
Alongside Kron, Keenan is also known as one of the best brown belts ever. Keenan climbed up the rankings and popularity in 2012 and was clearly a step above the competition. He became the first person ever to win the double Grand Slam, amounting to winning the gold both in his division and absolute in each of the four major IBJJF tournaments.
Keenan swept the division and became a rival of the Miyao brothers. He faced Joao at the Pan Championship 2013, in which he beat by armbar. Paulo, later on, avenged his brother Joao against Keenan, winning the gold in the brown belt absolute division in 2013’s World Championship. Keenan’s only loss as a brown belt was against Paulo Miyao, the brother of Joao.
3) Paulo Miyao Vs Keenan Cornelius
The brown belt absolute final match between Paulo Miyao and Keenan Cornelius is one of the most impressive comebacks as far as colored belt matches go. The match happened in 2013, the time Paulo surged through the rankings. It is also the same year Paolo was promoted to black belt.
Paulo faced Keenan six times in 2012-2013, in which he lost four matches, with one draw and one win. What made this match impressive is the fact that Paulo was able to secure the win by overcoming a huge weight disadvantage. Miyao was able to avenge his brother and at the same time gave Keenan his only loss at brown belt. For reference, Keenan competed at the medium-heavyweight at that time and Paulo as a featherweight, roughly a 50-pound weight difference.
4) Andy Murasaki Vs Mason Fowler
Andy Murasaki is one of the young phenoms from team Atos. Now promoted as a black belt, he has been winning major IBJJF tournaments since he was a juvenile colored belt up to the adults brown belt division. His match with Mason Fowler in Pan Championship was one of the most exciting colored belt matches in 2020.
Andy has competed as a brown belt in the lightweight division of Pan 2020, in which he faced Mason. The latter is now also a black belt under Caio Terra. The match was in the finals of absolute division; there was over a 50-pound weight difference with Mason competing at the super heavyweight division.
5) Roberto Jimenez vs Roosevelt Sousa
Roberto Jimenez is definitely one of the sport’s rising stars. He is highly regarded for his slick style and is pound for pound, one of the most exciting grapplers of the modern generation. He has won numerous IBJJF tournaments as a colored belt and became a black belt at 19, after his performance at No-Gi Worlds. He fought Roosevelt Sousa in the World No-Gi Championship of 2019 and submitted the ultra-heavyweight in less than a minute.
The colored belt divisions are where BJJ athletes begin to make a name for themselves. There is a saying that the black belt superstars of tomorrow are the colored belts champions of today. With the amount of skilled junior practitioners we have, we’ll inevitably see new faces burst onto the scene every year. This is an excellent indicator that our beloved sport is flourishing with talent.
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