Having done a quick then & now piece on Otavio Sousa, I would be remiss to not put one up for his biggest challenger from when they were brown belts and in a way up to black belt as well: Kron Gracie.
From BJJ Heroes:
- European Champion (2009 black);
- 2x World Champion (2006 purple, 2007 brown);
- World Cup Champion (2006 purple – CBJJO);
- Pro Sub League: X-Mission – Champion (2006);
- 4x Pan American Champion (2005 purple, 2007 brown, 2008 brown weight & absolute);
- World Jiu Jitsu Expo Superfight Champion (2012)
- World Silver Medallist (2011 black);
- Pan American Silver Medallist (2009 black belt)"
Otavio has on paper won more tournaments and become now Black Belt 2x world champion with Kron tapping Otavio 2x as a brown belt, and at the inaugural Metamoris event, and now Kron tapping Shinya Aoki at the 2nd event. Kron also acquitted himself well at the ADCC last year, nearly tapping the Guillotine master himself, Marcelo Garcia.
It's interesting to note that stylistically, Kron moves much the same way, always pressuring, always looking to finish and put his opponent in danger. This factor of his game is what has likely cost him the only title at this point many would say has eluded him, namely the Black Belt Mundials/World Championship title. I remember reading online that he is an outlier in competitive BJJ in that he is one of the few competitors who manages to overcome the statistical evidence that the player who is down on points first usually loses:
It will be interesting to see how Otavio Sousa fares at the ADCC this September in China as he may add another accomplishment to his resume that eludes Kron Gracie as well.