Rome (Italy), is once again home to the European championships for the IBJJF. This time we’re back to our regularly scheduled event the European NoGi.
This year’s event is the first European NoGi since the pandemic and the rules have changed quite a bit. IBJJF now allows heel hooks and reaping in the adult brown and black division. This combined with ADCC means we are seeing new faces from the submission-only & invitational circuit dipping their toes in IBJJF waters.
Female Adult Black Belts
The female featherweight division is an exciting mix of young up-and-comers and established talent. Brown belt European champion Fiona Middleton will be making looking to make a statement in the black belt division.
Our last one to watch in the female featherweight division hails from Wales, Ashley Bendle. 2022 has been an incredible year for Draig squad member Ashley Bendle. This year has seen her compete on large invitational platforms such as Polaris and Enyo. This was also the first year Bendle achieved IBJJF Gold, winning the Absolute division at the IBJJ London Open.
Our last competitor to look out for is Erika Ontiveros. New to the black belt division, the Cobrinha student moved to Spain just as the Pandemic hit, right after winning Pan Ams. She is favoured to take gold in the division and will be looking to make her mark in the European scene.
In the female lightweight division, our one to watch is the number one seed, Chelsea Leah. Co-founder of Escapology with her husband Tom Barlow, Chelsea is an incredibly established competitor. The multiple-time IBJJF Major medalist will have a bye directly to the final and is the favourite to take the European NoGi gold.
Fresh from ADCC, Norwegian competitor Julia Maele will be looking to take home this year’s gold medal at the IBJJF NoGi Europeans.
The number one seed will have two matches for gold and we’re sure that both of them are going to be incredibly exciting!
Medium Heavyweight Division
2022 is the return of Ane Svendsen. This year’s European NoGi will be the first Major IBJJF competition Svendsen has competed in since she competed at brown belt in 2019 when she took home double gold. The Norwegian has already made an impact since returning to the competition scene, achieving second in the ADCC European Trials and double gold in the recent Rome open.
Next on our list in the Medium Heavyweight division is Black Belt and Maths teacher Magdalena Loska. The Polish grappler is a known European force in the NoGi scene, coming off a win at the first ADCC European Trials, she will be looking to make an impression in Rome.
Last on our list is IBJJF Worlds & Pan Ams Medalist Chloe McNally from Unity. Chloe is a regular at many IBJJF Events and often podiums, so expect to see her being a competitive force in the Medium Heavyweight division.
Another European competitor straight from ADCC is Cypriot black belt, Eleftheria Christodoulou. A dark horse of the division. Christodoulou is the lowest rank in the division, but she is a Pan Ams champion at Brown Belt & Purple Belt European Champion. Plus, her performance at ADCC European Trails shows that she has the ability to go all the way to the top of the podium.
Men Adult Black Belt
The men’s lightweight division sees “Bad Boy” Lucas Pinhero look to add another major IBJJF NoGi competition win to his resume. Pinheiro has already won the NoGi Brasileiro’s & NoGi Pan Ams and if he can win Europeans, he will be on course to do the NoGi grand slam in 2022
Standing in his way is Dutch grappler Daniel DeGroot. DeGroot made a big splash at the 2022 ADCC European Trials taking third and making waves on social media because of his electric performance.
Probably one of the most anticipated matchups at the whole championship. Both Sam McNally and Ashley Williams are fresh from ADCC and looking to push towards NoGi worlds.
Momentum would dictate that McNally is the favourite in this match-up after his incredible win over Garry Tonon at this year’s ADCC. McNally also submitted all his opponents at the ADCC European Trials
Never count out Ashley Williams. Riding the wave of his recent win over former UFC fighter Carlos Condit, Williams is looking to use European NoGi as a platform to jump into the deep end.
The truth is, there are no favourites. If this matchup happens in the finals, all we can expect is an amazing scrap between two very game European competitors.
The men’s Lightweight Division sees two familiar faces on the European Scene, Marcus Phelan & Ben Robson compete in an exciting division.
Irish black belt under Darragh O’Conaill, Marcus Phelan, has been sharpening his NoGi skills by competing at a number of freestyle wrestling championships, even making the podium at the Irish Open. Marcus has also had a very successful competition year in BJJ, placing top at a number of IBJJF and AJP competitions.
If there’s a competition, it’s likely you will see Ben Robson competing. Coming off a win at Polaris 22, it’s now time for Robson to strip off the Gi and compete at the IBJJF European NoGi championship. Known for his endless gas tank and exciting style, there’s never a dull moment when El Diablo competes.
If you were to pick a favourite for the division, it would have to be Movement Art’s, Nick Salles. Black belt under Mikey Musumeci Salles has won numerous IBJJF competitions in 2022 and is tipped for the podium.
Since the introduction of reaping and heel hooks into the ruleset, we have seen more competitors from the European invitational scene move over to IBJJF competition. Most notable of those competitors is Jed Hue
Jed is looking to get his first major Black Belt IBJJF title after competing at a number of European IBJJF championships.
Dinu Bucalet is a regular on the IBJJF circuit. The romanian who lives and trains in London is also a regular competitor on the invitational circuit.
Dynamic and explosive is how you would describe Ellis Younger. The black belt from North East Jiu Jitsu had an incredibly exciting match against Jed Hue at the IBJJF London Open, and we’re hoping for more exciting matchups.
Also fresh from Polaris 22 is the fierce Polish grappler Mateusz Szczeciński. The leg lock specialist made a huge impact at ADCC by submitting William Tackett and is looking to make the same impression at this competition.
Medium Heavyweight Division
The medium heavyweight division at this year’s European NoGi is probably the most stacked division. This division features hugely exciting competitors including Canadians Oliver Taza and Shane Fishman, who are both coming off strong showings at the Polaris 22 Grand Prix.
We are also looking forward to seeing Taylor Pearman bring his unique aggressive style back to the IBJJF mats, and his first match against Shane Fishman is going to be a tough but exciting match for both competitors
Another contender for the European NoGi throne is the formidable Claudio Calasan. The ADCC Superfight contender is still hanging deep in the adult division and is always an exciting watch on the mats.
However, we are most excited to see Vegard Randeberg step onto the mats. This explosive Norwegian competitor is known for his aggressive wrestling style and was tipped to do very well at the ADCC European Trials until a cut on his head derailed his hopes. Vegard’s first fight is against Szilard Sule who has impressed us immensly by taking second at this year’s Europeans in a fantastic finals match.
Our first match in the heavyweight division is an exacting affair. Finland’s Santeri Lilius is set to go up against UK superstar Bradley Hill. Hill has had a very busy year opening his own academy (Royal Jiu-Jitsu) and now he’s back to compete at this year’s competition. A tough starter match for both competitors that will surely be fireworks.
While this year’s European NoGi is thin on international competitors, the heavyweight division features two exciting grapplers from the United States, number one seed Devhonte “Bones” Johnson and from Polaris 22, Hunter Colvin. Both are these competitors are sure to make some serious dents in the division.
Our final preview sees Polish European Champion Adam Wardzinski take off the gi and look to secure his second European title this year.
This time around he will face stiff competition from Gracie Barra’s Thomas Bracher and the Polaris UK Grand Prix champion Freddie Vosgrone.
We expect Adam to do well in the division but he will have some tough matches to secure gold.