Who’s Number One 18: Meregali v Marinho is booked for May 18th, 2023 and the promotion has put together a fantastic event for us to preview. The main event is an incredibly interesting match, as Nicholas Meregali will be facing Pedro Marinho in the first gi match ever staged on the WNO mats. Before those two make history though, there are also a number of exciting matches set up to support this epic battle. There are either ADCC veterans or IBJJF world champions featured in almost every match at the event, and it’ll no doubt be non-stop action for the fans watching.
Who’s Number One 18 Full Preview
Although most of the attention will be directed at the main event of Who’s Number One 18, there are several other exciting matches that we’ll break down in this preview too. There’s six matches between elite grapplers booked for the main card of the event, along with a few preliminary card matchups as well.
Nicholas Meregali v Pedro Marinho
Meregali was on absolute fire at the IBJJF Pan Championship 2023, while Marinho is always a tough competitor to beat and has proven himself to be at the highest level time and time again. There is some size difference to take into account though, as Marinho has generally floated around the 88kg division and Meregali doesn’t tend to compete lower than 99kg. Considering that there’s a fair size advantage in his favour and his fantastic recent form, it’s hard to pick against Nicholas Meregali here.
Rafael Lovato Jr v Elder Cruz
While Rafael Lovato Jr is over a decade older than Elder Cruz, he’s also achieved much more during his career as a grappler. While Cruz is definitely a top competitor, he’s experienced mixed results in competition lately and would need to be in top form in order to win this match. Lovato Jr on the other hand turned back the clock at the end of last year to put in an incredible performance at ADCC 2022 that saw him finish fourth in the under 99kg division. Assuming he’s not nursing any injuries, Lovato Jr should be able to take this match.
Alex Enriquez v Amanda ‘Tubby’ Alequin
This is another battle between a talented up-and-comer and a veteran of the sport, as Amanda ‘Tubby Alequin won an IBJJF no gi world championship back in 2016. Alex Enriquez on the other hand was only promoted to BJJ black belt less than 18 months ago. It’s worth noting that Enriquez is an experienced wrestler though and she’s been cleaning up on the invitational circuit recently, so even though Alequin has achieved more in the past it seems unlikely she’ll be taking the win here.
Izaak Michell v Jacob Couch
This is one of the tougher matches to predict, as both Izaak Michell and Jacob Couch have shown flashes of brilliance throughout their career so far. They’ve both been able to defeat fantastic competition at a relatively early stage in their career, and it’s easy to see either one of them getting their hands raised really. Couch has the slightest edge just based purely on an excellent recent performance at the IBJJF Chicago Spring Open that might signal that he’s ready for the very best in the sport.
Dante Leon v Ruan Alvarenga
Despite the fact that this is one of the earlier matches on the main card of Who’s Number One 18, it’s also likely to be one of the most exciting in this preview. Dante Leon is one of the best competitors to watch as he delivers action in every single one of his matches, and Ruan Alvarenga has quickly established himself as a fun grappler to watch too. Leon reached the highest point of his career when he won a bronze medal in the 77kg division at ADCC 2022, while Alvarenga went out in the opening round at 66kg. It’ll undoubtedly be great to watch regardless of what happens, but Leon should win this one.
William Tackett v Francisco Lo
This match is opening up the main card and it’s a really interesting pairing. Francisco Lo has put in some excellent performances on the IBJJF open circuit since being promoted to black belt, but a gold medal at a major event has been just out of reach. William Tackett had a great year in 2022 when he earned a silver medal at the first ADCC Trial in North America, before earning an invite by winning the second edition. On paper Tackett should be the one to win this, but Lo is more than capable of upsetting the order and could easily surprise the fans with a win here.
The full Who’s Number One 18: Meregali v Marinho event, including every match in this preview, will be available to watch live on May 18th, 2023 on FloGrappling.