Rodolfo Vieira and Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida are – without a doubt – the two BIGGEST names in the heavyweight divisions at the black belt level in 2012 and 2013. No one drew more attention that these up-and-comers. As both these athletes seemed to “come out of the woodwork,” it seemed that an inevitable battle would be the result, and in both 2012 and 2013, the Black Belt Absolute Finals saw this “clash of the titans” – with Buchecha as the victor.
In this (rather detailed) post, I’ll be taking a look at both the 2013 and the 2012 matches between Buchecha and Rodolfo, as well as breaking down the individual techniques and strategies that I thought were pivotal. Lets dig right into 2013:
Compared to 2012, this was a one-sided battle, and primarily a display of Buchecha’s nimble style. Here are three interesting portions of this match that I thought were worth making note on:
As soon as Rodolfo stands up in the open guard, Buchecha scoops under a near leg and releases the closed guard, spinning into a dangerous kneebar position and allowing himself the opportunity to hit leg locks or sweeps. Rodolfo seems to notice the danger as he is toppled over (possibly concerned for his feet – knowing what Buchecha has done to Kron Gracie and many others), allowing Buchecha to ride the momentum right to the top.
Rodolfo’s X-guard game landed him on top of Buchecha in their 2012 bout, but in this match he ends up struggling to sweep and gets mounted by Buchecha in the process. Notice how Buchecha pushes the legs under himself to make room for one swift step-over, and how quickly he lands on top with a good base. Of course to Rodolfo’s credit, he did not get submitted in this position, and it was points that decided the match.
In this video breakdown, I cover the three techniques above that I thought were the most pivotal moments of the match. It was hard to replicate the “scramble” that Buchecha first used as a sweep in this match, but the point is this: Standing up in Buchecha’s closed guard is a bad idea for everyone who’s ever tried to do it.
There were likely to be another 2 or 3 really cool techniques that we could have covered in this breakdown series, and to be honest, I could have taken an hour to break down all the details, but I didn’t want to bore anyone – but MAN is there a lot of good stuff in here!
Here we can see a much closer bout. In fact, this match was so close, and so “to the wire” that it was called the best match of the entire 2012 World Championships, and this video got to a MILLION views in just about a year. That’s pretty insane.
Within a minute, Buchecha pulls guard and hits an inverted sweep. At a minute and a half, Rodolfo attempts a reverse de la riva sweep of his own. Jeez… what is going on?! Heavyweight BJJ fans generally don’t see this kind of “rolley polley-ness.”
Rodolfo finalls returns his 2 point deficit at about 5 minutes in with an Omoplata sweep of his own, right into the “knee drag” pass made famous by the Mendes brothers. Rodolfo nearly takes mount shortly thereafter. At 6 minutes in, Buchecha hits a HUGE tornado guard sweep and ends up in a beautiful kneebar, which he turns into a scramble to attain top position.
A swift 50-50 guard sweep by Rodolfo lands him right up on top in the leg drag position – very strategically landing on top and also being outside the normal range of attack for Buchecha.
Overtime ends up being the proving ground where Buchecha – totally unexpectedly, ends up with a crazy double-leg near the end to secure the win – blasting Rodolfo out of bounds, and himself into the record books.
Buchecha is said to play a “lightweight game,” and in these matches (and more of less all of his matches at the Worlds) that showed as clear as day. From the gaurd pull to the inverted sweeps to the Berimbolo to the back takes, his style is that of someone half his size.
The question seems to have been looming ever since his display of skill over Roger Gracie:
Is THIS the future of the heavyweight game? Are the heavyweight grapplers going to be guard pulling, up-side-down-rolling, back takers like the lightweights seem to have become?
My prediction is that this “modern” style in BJJ will persist, but will not be the “be all end all” of BJJ’s development. In a sense, the trend of today has proven itself effective in winning modern sport Jiu Jitsu matches – there’s no denying that. At the same time, there is a “phase” element of much of the stylistic specifics of what is now the “modern game.” Ten years from now, the “Berimbolo” will be understood better in both offense and defense, and it will be absorbed into the ever-evolving, always dynamic
And thank goodness we have amazing athletes like Rodolfo, Buhecha, and others to show us the “cutting edge” in real time.
For the love of Jiu Jitsu! Thanks for reading,
PS: If you’ve gotten a lot out of this breakdown, or you have anything you’d like to mention, please go ahead and comment below, I appreciate it and look forward to catching up! All the best and talk soon.
Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
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