Leo Santos

leosantos.gHome: Brasil
Style: brazilian jiu-jitsu/submission fighting
Team: Nova União
Division: under 76.9 Kg

MMA Record: 6 – 3 – 0 (67% of victories by submission)

Leo Santos is one of the most important light-weight fighters in the history of brazilian jiu-jitsu. He won everything and everyone in BJJ tournaments before he starts fighting MMA.

Leo is famous for his butterfly guard and for his really nice sweeps, but all professional fighters have to be complete on their game and have to adapt depending on who you are fighting. A good example is the fight he did against Zulu, the best brazilian wrestler at that time, at the ADCC trials 2005:

Zulu knew that Leo was better on the ground and was waiting the first five minutes.  After that he took Leo down, making the 2 points, and then tried to hold him down to the end of fight-time. Leo realised Zulu was just waiting and did a surprise attack, concluding with the best take-down of the tournament, winning the 2005 trials.

At the 2005 ADCC World Championship, Leo Santos faced great fighters, but the most commented fight was the beautifully flying armbar he did on GSP as you can see below:

Gregor Gracie

gregor gracie_2Born in 1986
Home: Brasil
Style: BJJ/submission fighting
Team: Renzo Gracie
Division: under 76.9 Kg

MMA record: 2 – 1 – 0

The Gracie family is still the reference when you talk about brazilian jiu-jitsu. First because they’ve developed the style to the higher level which conquered the world in the beginnings of the 90’s. Now Roger Gracie is dominating all BJJ tournaments in a way never seen before. Gracies, as everybody knows, are a huge family and their business is fighting. So they will always have big names at BJJ and MMA scene.

Gregor is one of the Gracie names we will hear a lot. He already have a successful career at BJJ and that starts to pop up at  MMA: With only 23 years old he has three MMA fights (2 – 1 – 0). Gregor is two times World champion, Brazilian champion, Pan-Am champion and two times National Teams champion. He basically won every major competition he has been!

This year Gregor is going to compete at under 77 Kg division at ADCC Barcelona 2009. This is the same division as Kron Gracie. It would be interesting to see two Gracie competing against each other… But for that to happen we can’t forget that they will, depending on the brackets, have to pass through names like Marcelo Garcia, Ben Askren and Pablo Popovich, which is a very difficult task for any fighter in the world.

gregor gracie3

Bill Cooper


Nickname: The Grill
Home: California – USA
Style: BJJ/Submission Fighting
Team: Paragon
Division: under 76.9 Kg

We have seen some North-Americans competing at top level Bjj and Submission Fighting for the last years, people like Bj Penn, Rafael Lovato, Baret Yoshida, Dean Lister and some others did a great job because of their incredible talent, but we can’t forget that most of them have been many times to Brazil, staying their to train and compete, and some times for a long period.

Now you don’t need to go to Brazil anymore if you want to train with the best and compete against the best, most of the best Bjj fighters live now in USA and the most important tournament is there to, and the result for that is the new American generation that is coming with an amazing grappling game, they are not yet at their full potential but many of them like Ryan Hall, Jeff Glover, Justin Rader or Bill Cooper are very young, and when you see a fighters around 20 years doing what they are doing now and you think they are going to be at their best in four or five years you wonder what is going to be the future of Bjj and Submission Fighting.

Ben Askren

AskrenBNickname: Funky
Born in 1984
Home: USA
Style: Werstling/Submission Figthing
Team: ATT
Division: under 76.9 Kg

Werstling record:

HS Achievements
2x State champion career record of 153-7
Runner-up NHSCA senior nationals
Junior national FS champion 2002, 4th place 2001
Cadet greco-roman 5th place 2000
Wisconsin state record most takedowns in a season
2x 371(1999-2000) 401(2000-2001)askren

College Achievements
2x National Champion
4x National Finalist
3x Big XII champion
4th most pins in NCAA Div 1 history (91)
2x Dan Hodge Award Winneraskren_195
2x Wade Schalles Award Winner
2006-2007 Big 12 Athlete of the year

Post Collegiate Career
2008 US Nationals Champion
2008 Olympian

Askren is the most decorated wrestler to ever come from the University of Missouri. He was a four-time NCAA finalist, winning the 174-pound crown for the Tigers in 2006 and 2007. Those same years he also won the Hodge Trophy as most dominating college wrestler. While at the Columbia, Missouri school, he scored at record-setting 153 wins, 87 coming consecutively during the course of his junior and senior seasons, 91 career falls and 29 single-season pins. He was also a three-time Big 12 champ.

Askren has taken this season off from wrestling and has focused on mixed martial arts. He’s won his first two fights and has another fight coming up later this month.  He also plans to compete in a big grappling event that is coming up in Europe.   source: www.examiner.com

“I got big news this mornign that I got invited to the Abu Dhabi Combat Championships, which is the biggest grappling tourney in the world. I am pumped, but I gotta get real good real fast or I wll get my ankle torn off. It will be in Barcelona on Spet 26.” http://www.benaskren.net/blog/post

Milton Vieira

miltonvieira3Nickname:  Miltinho
Born in 1978
Home: Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
Style: luta-livre/BJJ/submission fighting
Team: Brazilian Top Team
Division: under 76.9 Kg

MMA Record: 9  – 6 – 1 (67% of victories by submission)

Milton Vieira has been invited to ADCC Barcelona 2009 because of his submission fighting agressive style. At ADCC Brazilian trials he was always fighting foward and taking risks. This luta-livre and BJJ black belt is famous for his arm-triangle and his anaconda-choke, the very same submission used at ADCC Absolute final in 2007 by Drysdale.

Susumu Nagao's PhotographSusumu Nagao's Photograph

Yoshiyuki “Zenko” Yoshida

yoshiyuki_yoshida_prevNickname:  Zenco
Born in 1974
Home: Tokyo – Japan
Style: Judo
Team: Tokyo Yellow Mans
Division: under 76.9 Kg

MMA Record: 11 – 3 – 0

Yoshida is an experienced 4th dan judo and MMA fighter, at ADCC Barcelona 2009 a he will face very difficult task since he is at the same division as Marcelo Garcia, GSP, Kron Gracie, Pablo Popovich and many others.

Zenko’s judo background and his MMA training  give him some good tools to be one of the top fighters at 76.9kg. He is extremely fast on his submissions and very difficult to put and control on the ground.


In 2007, Yoshida has entered into a Cage Force welterweight tournament sponsored by the Worldwide Cage Network. In the opening round of the tournament he defeated two-time interim Pancrase champion Katsuya Inoue by knockout. Zenko went on to defeat Matt Cain in the quarterfinals and former Shooto champion Akira Kikuchi in the semi-finals of the tournament. In the finals, he defeated Dan Hardy by disqualification after being struck by a kick to the groin, becoming the first Cage Force welterweight tournament winner.

Since the tournament’s closing, Yoshida has been offered a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It was originally speculated that the winners of the Cage Force tournaments were to be selected to compete in the UFC’s active roster. Yoshida made his debut in the UFC at UFC 84, defeating The Ultimate Fighter 6 contestant Jon Koppenhaver by anaconda choke submission. He was scheduled to meet Karo Parisyan in September at UFC 88 but Parisyan pulled out of the bout only two hours before the weight-ins citing an injury. Yoshida then faced Josh Koscheck at UFC: Fight for the Troops on December 2008, a fight which he lost by  knockout in the 1st round. UFC reported “Tokyo’s Yoshida, who remained on the canvas while being tended to by commission doctors, was removed from the Octagon on a stretcher as a precautionary measure. He was later treated and released from a local hospital for a concussion”.

Yoshida won his last fight against Brandon Wolff at UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida on May 2009 by guillotine choke in the first round.

Yoshida is slated to fight at ADCC BARCELONA 2009 and Anthony Johnson at UFC 104

See you in Barcelona!

Pablo Popovich

pablo popovichBorn in 1979
Home: Ft. Lauderdale-Florida
Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Fighting
Team: Team Popovitch
Division: under 76.9 Kg

BJJ/submission Fighting record:

2009 Grapplers Quest Pro Allstar Champion

2009 The Dog Fight Pro Jiu-Jitsu Champion

2008 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Champion

2007 World Jiu-Jitsu Champion

2007 World Submission Fighting ADCC – Finalist

2007 USA Team Trials Champion

2007 Atlantic Cup Superfight Champion

2005 World Submission Fighting ADCC – Finalist

National Champion USA- 10 times

Grapplers Quest Champion- 7 times

2003 North American World Submission Champion

2003 USA Team Trial Champion

Casca Grossa Pro division Champion

Music City Pro Division Champion

III Northeast Grappling Tournament Pro division Champion

Texas Submission Pro Division Champion

World Extreme Shoot Challenge XI Champion

World Extreme Shoot Challenge XII Champion

ICG Grappling Pro Champion

Popovitch became involved in BJJ as a precocious 5-year-old. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Popovitch began instruction at Barra Gracie School, where his teachers were the Machado brothers, Rigan, Carlos and Jean Jaques. “I knew early on that I wanted to be the best” Popovitch said. “I had my first tournament when I was eight. I defeated Carlinhos Gracie in the finals. He and I were really good friends, but we were very competitive on the mats.”
“I was always very close to the Gracie family because my father (Jorge Popovitch, 7th-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and Master instructor at Fort Lauderdale’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Center) had a great friendship with them. My aunt was married to Crolin Gracie. My cousins are Lyra, Kivia and Rullivan Gracie.”
The Popovitch’s moved to Florida in 1995 when Pablo was 15. He continued to study BJJ under Carlson Gracie. His training partners were members of the legendary Carlson Gracie Team and members of the current Brazilian top team. While attending high school in Florida, Popovitch was introduced to collegiate-style wrestling. His already accomplished skills at grappling lead to success and several offers from colleges to continue at the highest level of that sport. Popovitch opted instead to continue his devotion to his first love, BJJ.

pablo popovitch 1