Helvecio Penna resides at the extreme end of the spectrum as the poster child for older competitors in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but one of the highlights of Jiu-Jitsu is that while it like most combat sports has its young stars and locomotives like Buchecha and Rodolfo, there exist a considerable portion of older competitors still capable of doing damage on the podium:
Graciemag breaks down 10 of them here:
1. Mario Reis (Alliance) – At 33, the featherweight from Rio Grande do Sul was once the ruler of the division. World champion in 2003 and 2004, Reis is also a record holder in podium appearances. Since 2003, he conquered at least a bronze medal in every Worlds edition. It’s very unlikely not to see Mario in one of the semifinals of the featherweight, probably against Rafael Mendes. Mario’s goal is to close out the division with teammate Rubens Cobrinha.
2. Rodrigo Cavaca (Checkmat) – At 32, Cavaca reached glory in the Worlds in 2010, when he defeated Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu for the ultra-heavyweight gold. Since then, a series of injuries kept Cavaca out of the game, but in 2013 he is back. He already won the Over 100kg division at the WPJJC and wants to repeat the feat in Long Beach, again closing out the division with pupil Marcus Buchecha.
3. Gabriel Vella (Street Sports BJJ) – At 32, Vella is a two-time world champion (2002/09) that has been away for a while. He is now back and because of a intense diet he is thinner and more active than ever. His recent showing at the Dallas Open proves that Vella is ready to do some damage at the super-heavyweight division and also at the absolute.
4. Bruno Bastos (Nova União) – At 33, Bruno is a fierce competitor with a a very dangerous game. A 2010 Worlds bronze medalist, Bruno is a also a Rio Open and New York Open champion. He is registered in the super-heavyweight division and a strong contender for a spot in the semifinals.
5. Denilson Pimenta (GF Team) – At 33, Pimenta is enrolled at the featherweight division. Bronze medalist in 2010, Denilson is always a tough opponent for whoever crosses his path. He is a strong contender to be in one of the semifinals of the division, on Sunday.
8. Gabriel Willcox (Brazilian Fight) – At 37, Gabriel is enrolled in the light-featherweight and has all the possibility to get at least at the quarterfinals, as he did last year. Any youngster who has to face Gabriel knows that he is in deep waters.
10 – Wellington “Megaton” Dias (Gracie Humaita) – At 45, Megaton holds a title that no other Jiu-jitsu competitor has. He competed in every edition of the Worlds as a black belt, since 1996. Registered again in the featherweight division, 2013 has a special flavor for Mega. For the first time, he will be competing at the Worlds in the same belt rank as his daughter Mackenzie Dern, 20.