Nicholas Meregali is set to return to gi competition at the IBJJF Pan Championship 2023, for the first time since he won the absolute division of the IBJJF world championship last year. While Meregali has been a permanent fixture at the highest levels of gi competition for years now, he took some time away from competing under that ruleset in order to make the transition to no gi instead. It was a huge chance for the young grappler, as he’d spent his entire career choosing one over the other and had never competed in a tournament that allowed heelhooks before.
Regardless, he announced his decision to transition to no gi competition after being invited to compete at the 2022 ADCC World Championship on account of his fantastic record in the gi. It was a huge surprise at the time and many fans doubted that he would be able to make the transition in such a short space of time. He took on a no gi superfight during the lead up to ADCC 2022 and the signs for success were all there as he put on an impressive display against Arnaldo Maidana. He turned those early signs into one of the best debut performances there has ever been, as he ended up winning bronze in the under 99kg division and silver in the absolute.
Now Nicholas Meregali is stepping back in to gi competition, ready for an attempt to win the IBJJF Pan Championship for the very first time in 2023. He has entered the ultra-heavyweight division and knowing his history, he’ll probably enter the absolute division as well. There’s some difficult challenges waiting for him there and Roosevelt Sousa will be tough to beat, but Meregali is still the favourite to take home gold regardless. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares now that he’s spent so long focusing on no gi instead, but he’s been one of the top gi competitors for a while now and it’ll still take something special to stop him.