The ADCC world championship is the most prestigious no gi grappling tournament on the planet, and each competitor who steps foot on those legendary mats has had to earn an invite to compete. The structure of the event means that there are multiple levels of achievements that can be earned, starting with reaching the podium of one of five weightclasses. Beyond that, athletes are also able to put their name forward to be selected for the absolute division as well and becoming a double-champion is a rare achievement. Each absolute division champion is then invited back the following year to compete in the superfight, against the reigning champion. Winning all three is seen as the triple crown of ADCC, something that only a tiny handful of grapplers have ever achieved.
For those who have achieved impressive feats on the ADCC mats, they are then inducted into the ADCC Hall of Fame where they are immortalised forever. But in order to even begin to think about adding any of these achievements to their legacy, grapplers must earn an invite to compete at the ADCC world championship first.
How Do You Earn An Invite To ADCC?
The ADCC world championship is only accessible by invite, and it is not an open tournament like the IBJJF world championship. There is a hard limit on each weightclass and only 16 grapplers are offered the opportunity to compete in each men’s division, and 8 in each women’s division. There’s also only 5 weightclasses for men and 2 for women at present, which means that there are only 96 invites available. Considering that the ADCC world championship only comes around once every two years, it’s entirely possible for fantastic grapplers to never actually earn the opportunity to compete because of how tough the field is. There are currently only two ways for a grappler to earn an invite to compete at the ADCC world championship.
Winning ADCC Trials
Half of all competitors at the ADCC world championship have to go through preliminary tournaments known as ADCC trials. There are 8 of these trials for each edition of the world championship and they are staged all around the world. North American and South America each have 2 editions of the ADCC trials while Asia and Oceania share 2 editions, and Europe, the Middle-east, and Africa also share 2 editions. An invite is available for the winner of each men’s weightclass at each trial, but only the second edition of each trial has an invite available for the winners of the women’s weightclasses.
The ADCC trials are known as incredibly tough tournaments that attract hundreds of top competitors, all of whom are willing to put everything on the line in order to secure an invite to the world championship. It’s pretty common to see ADCC veterans, IBJJF world champions, and even top MMA fighters or wrestlers competing at these trials. The eventual winners will have had to win several matches against elite opponents over the course of two days and although they often enter the ADCC world championships as underdogs, they are always incredibly talented competitors.
The only other way to earn an invite to the ADCC world championship is to be personally selected by the organizers. This is how the other half of all invites are decided, and it is also how the alternates are decided if anyone is forced to withdraw from the event on short notice. If an athlete wins a medal at the previous edition of the ADCC world championship (gold, silver, or bronze) they are usually offered an invite to return the following year. There’s no guarantee of course, but it’s generally a safe bet that they will be offered the chance to return and improve upon their performance.
Outside of that, there’s no way of predicting who will be given an invite at all. In the past, popular MMA fighters with a high level of grappling ability have been invited to compete, as have top gi competitors looking to make the transition to no gi competition. At several points in the past those who have finished in second place at the ADCC trials have been given an invite to compete, as have the grapplers who had exciting performances under the ADCC ruleset in the past. While there’s no way for competitors to ensure that they receive an invite if they don’t win trials, the basic answer is both to put on a show and to perform well at them.