The IBJJF and closeouts, can you name a more iconic duo? Well, the organization is attempting to move away from one of the worst parts of it’s reputation in 2022 as they have announced changes to the rules in order to reduce the prevalence of closeouts at the World Championships. For those who don’t know, a closeout is when two athletes from the same team or general affiliation are set to meet and compete against one another in the final of a major tournament and instead, both competitors decide to refuse to fight and they decide between themselves who will take home the gold medal.
It’s a practice that has drawn criticism from fans and viewers for quite some time, and rightfully so. While it’s somewhat understandable that training partners don’t want to risk injuring each other, closeouts have often robbed viewers of a satisfactory ending to an entire weekend of elite grappling action at major IBJJF tournaments. With affiliations growing bigger every year and athletes frequently moving to form major teams, closeouts have become even more common than ever before. At the first major IBJJF tournament of 2022, the gi Pans, there were closeouts in four out of ten of the men’s divisions.
Not all training partners do refuse to compete against one another though. The Ruotolo brothers actually had one of the most exciting matches of the year at the 2021 IBJJF world championships, where they fought tooth and nail for a gold medal in the brown belt Lightweight division. That’s exactly what the IBJJF is looking to incentivise with their new rule change, where they will refuse to pay out any prize money to the winner and they will not earn any ranking points for the event either. The IBJJF announced the news of the rule change regarding closeouts in the world championship finals in a recent post to their official Instagram account: