Buckle up, sports aficionados, because the City of Sin is about to become the City of Wins! Yes, we’re talking about Las Vegas, the desert wonderland that is transforming into the global epicentre of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the 2023 IBJJF Masters World Championships and Jiu-Jitsu Con International. Initiated with a bang on August 31st, the grappling gala will keep temperatures soaring through September 2nd. But what’s behind this sweltering spectacle? Let’s unpack it.
Picture this: a room filled with jiu-jitsu experts, not just any experts but the masters—those who’ve crossed the age-30 milestone. If you’re imagining a lackadaisical roll on the mats, you’ve got another thing coming. The athlete roster is a veritable Hall of Fame for the grappling universe. João Miyao, Paulo Miyao, JT Torres, Jaime Canuto—they’re all here. And just to sprinkle in some more star power, enter Rafael Lovato Jr., the former Bellator champion. Together, they’re cooking up a storm of unmatched skill and finesse.
As if this wasn’t enough to keep us glued, in struts UFC icon Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Swapping his UFC octagon for a BJJ mat, Johnson, a force in the ONE Championship flyweight division, is stepping down into the Masters 2 bracket—that’s the arena for the 35-and-over warriors. Donning a brown belt, he’s diving into a jam-packed featherweight division with 38 combatants. Navigating through six gruelling, jaw-dropping bouts, he’s chasing that elusive golden glory.
And get this: Johnson made a monumental splash, seizing gold like a boss. If anyone ever questioned his place in the martial arts’ Hall of Greats, this should silence them. The man dominated at the Las Vegas Convention Center, entering as a brown belt and leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind about his prowess. Johnson’s six-match run culminated in a show-stopping 10-0 finale, affirming that he’s not just an MMA standout but also a force in pure submission grappling.
Already a juggernaut with 25 MMA wins, eight by submission, Johnson keeps adding jewels to his crown. Recall his memorable Mighty Wiz Bar against Ray Borg in 2017? He’s a submission artist par excellence. Even Mikey Musumeci, the ONE flyweight submission grappling world champ and arguably one of the best BJJ artists ever, is eyeing a dream bout against him. Although Johnson’s legend is rooted in MMA—he defended his ONE title against Adriano Moraes just this May—his grappling chops are fast becoming the stuff of legend.
But don’t for a second think this event is just for the seasoned warriors. Jiu-Jitsu Con International has a smorgasbord of matchups that are like catnip for BJJ enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for Mayssa Bastos and Gabrieli Pessanha, the leading ladies of the BJJ world, ready to set the mats on fire. Meanwhile, Diego “Pato” Oliveira and Lucas Barbosa are primed to send shockwaves through both gi and no-gi categories. Not to be overlooked, Pato, an IBJJF world champ in both gi and no-gi, is also a bronze medalist from the 2022 ADCC Worlds. His singular focus? Double gold.
Oh, and did we mention the cha-ching? A staggering $40,000 prize pot is up for grabs in the Absolute Grand Prix. This isn’t just a battle for badges and bragging rights; this is a race for real financial gain. The stakes are high and each move on the mat will be laced with an urgency fueled by more than just pride.
Of course, let’s not forget the dark horses and overlooked legends making a play for glory. Veterans like “Megaton” Dias (yes, that’s Mackenzie Dern’s dad) are giving it their all in the Masters 6 category, while BJJ old guards Roberto Godoi and Bruno Bastos are in the fray in the Masters 4 and 3 brackets.
Bottom line? Whether it’s the tactical brilliance, the riveting rivalries, or the sheer marvel of watching these titans wrestle, there’s no end to the reasons you should tune in. The action fires up each day at 12:30 p.m. ET, serving a feast of bouts across belts and age brackets. Don’t miss it!