Elder Cruz is one of the most successful young BJJ competitors to come from Checkmat in recent years and he’s just made the move to the highest levels of the sport by being promoted to black belt. It’s been a fantastic year for Cruz, as he has gone from strength to strength in his own development and won several huge competitions along the way. He received his final belt promotion from Lucas Leite, a legendary Checkmat competitor in his own right who was famous for his incredible skills from half-guard.
Cruz received his final belt promotion from Leite after the impressive performance he delivered at the IBJJF World Championships. Not only did he win a brown belt world championship gold medal in the Heavyweight division, but he did it by making a phenomenal comeback in the final match. Cruz was already down by 6 points and 2 advantages in the first 90 seconds of his match against Pedro de Souza, a deficit that would be insurmountable for many athletes. Cruz fought back with phenomenal grit and determination, managing to pull back completely level with his opponent by the time the match ended and earning the win by referee’s decision.
Cruz is not just a gi specialist either, as he’s been vocal in the past about his desire to make the transition to a professional MMA career. He’s also fought at an incredibly high level in no gi competition in preparation for the move, and already owns a win over an ADCC medallist in Nicky Rodriguez. He has made ADCC qualification a priority of his this year as well, giving impressive performances at the ADCC trials in the hopes of winning his place at the event. Although he wasn’t able to earn his way to the 2022 world championships, Cruz’s talent was quickly recognised by ADCC organizers and he was given an invite to the tournament regardless.
Elder Cruz announced the news of him becoming the latest black belt from Checkmat in a recent post to his official Instagram account: