Grapplers, this year's Worlds looks to be one of the best in years, and the Absolute Division is looking more stacked than ever. Let's talk about it!
Given his total domination last year, Roger Gracie (Super Pesado) (who apparently confirmed he's competing) is an overwhelming favorite. If you haven't seen any of his matches from last year's Worlds, check them out (it's called YouTube, grappler).
But, unlike last year, Xande Ribeiro (Pesado) is returning to compete. He's beaten Roger in Worlds Absolute Finals before (2006 and 2008), so he's clearly the strongest contender next to Roger.
He was recently interviewed by TATAME.com on the subject - read it.
Still, there are other notables contending for medals in this division, namely:
Romulo"Rominho" Barral (Meio Pesado): He took 2nd last year and in 2007 to Roger. However, looking at last year's match versus Roger, in which he was submitted with that signature choke, it seems unlikely he's a contender for gold.
Bernardo Faria (Pesado): We dig this guy! He's definitely on the rise and he's got our attention. Bernardo is on a role in the Absolute Division: he won gold at Pan 2010 and this past weekend snatched up another big Absolute victory at the Brazilian Nationals. Watch for him.
Braulio Estima (Pesado): He just won ADCC Absolute, defeating Xande in the final, so he's a major contender. Not sure if he'd compete against his teammate/buddy, Roger, if they got to the finals. Would certainly be interesting. UPDATE (revised 5/23/10): Braulio is out of Worlds according to GRACIEMAG. Too bad!!
Ricardo "Demente" Abreu (Super Pesado): Demente is yet another seriously badass dude with a sick resume who's been submitted by Roger (and pretty handily). He's another hopeful though and he's gotta on everyone's "short list" of Absolute contenders. Most recent notable victory: Absolute Division at the 2009 South American Championships (11/09).
The REST: Rafael Lovato Jr., Tarsis Humphreys, Gabriel Vella (our teammate and friend), Rodrigo Cavaca, Alexandre Ceconi, Claudio Calanzas (to name a few). All of these guys are super elite and will likely win (or place in) their respective divisions. None have bested Roger or Xande to our knowledge - but, there is always a first.
Freak'in Worlds Absolute! Gonna be dope. See you there, grapplers!