All five divisions for the WNO Championships are now complete as the Heavyweight division just been revealed and eight of the best grapplers on the planet will be competing against one another. The men will join their female counterparts in the Heavyweight division who were the most recent announcement for the exciting new tournament. While these were the most recent announcements, the men’s Middleweight and Lightweight divisions were already set to be just as exciting, as was the women’s 115lbs division.
Perhaps the favorite to take home the grand prize in the men’s Heavyweight division is Kaynan Duarte, the reigning ADCC world champion in the over 99kg weightclass. He recently put on a dominating performance at Third Coast Grappling 6 where he actually defeated two of his fellow competitors during his run to the top. Both Aaron ‘Tex’ Johnson and Mason Fowler weren’t able to stop him and while Tex has had a mixed run of results in recent years, Fowler is the reigning Submission Underground absolute champion and is used to submitting bigger men.
Fowler has been so dominant for Chael Sonnen’s promotion in fact that they recently put together an 8-man grand prix to find a new challenger for him. 10th Planet’s Kyle Boehm actually won that tournament and although he hasn’t faced Fowler yet, he will also be competing at the WNO Championships and might get his chance earlier than expected. Another veteran of the over 99kg ADCC division, 2015 world champion Orlando Sanchez, will be also be competing and despite being just shy of his 40th birthday, he will still represent a huge challenge for anyone he comes up against.
Luiz Panza has had a difficult run of form recently culminating in a loss to Craig Jones at a recent WNO event but as an IBJJF no gi world champion with something to prove, he will be one to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses. Fellow IBJJF no gi world champion Tim Spriggs will also be a difficult challenge for anyone too as he will no doubt be eager to put on a great performance after losing the last two matches he’s had this year, both on the Fight 2 Win stage.
The final competitor might not have the same level of achievements in the sport as the others, but Haisam Rida is the dark horse of the division who could just walk away with gold if he can live up to his potential. He’s been on the verge of big things for quite some time now but hasn’t quite had the opportunities to take on elite competition until just recently at WNO. He was set to face Keenan Cornelius before an injury forced Cornelius to withdraw and although he was replaced by his top student Miha Perhavec, Rida made incredibly short work of him with a fantastic performance.
The full Heavyweight division of the WNO Championships, along with all four other divisions, will be available to watch live on September 25th and 26th on FloGrappling, click here to subscribe and watch.