Last week I said I would put forth my ideas about cleaning up the sport, so here we are. First things first, the tournaments have to matter. Right now, in order to compete in the world championship at a black belt level, all you need to do is acquire points. If you compete at enough IBJJF Opens, automatically you will have enough points. Effectively anyone with the funds and a black belt can compete in the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. That’s dumb, no other sport does that.
So, let’s limit who can get in. Everyone needs to qualify, no more automatic bids. It shouldn’t matter whether you were a previous black belt world champion, a brown belt world champion, or some super famous MMA fighter. If you want in, it is solely based on the merit of what you’ve achieved in the current season.
The top 20 ranked athletes in each division should be subjected to USADA testing throughout the year. If you miss a test, your season’s over.
Brackets should be capped at 32 and if you’re in the top 16, registration and lodging is free.
Stop having any other belts compete in the same weekend as the black belt adult world championships. If you want to continue having blue belt world champions, that’s fine, but let’s make it seem like being an adult world champion actually matters.
An IBJJF membership card necessitates a lower tournament fee. Wrestling and Judo both have international federations with membership cards, those guys are not paying $200 to sign up for a tournament. I don’t care if sponsors are paying those fees or not, a mandatory membership card plus 3 digit number tournament registration is a scam. Especially since there’s no insurance attached to that membership (Judo & Wrestling have insurance).
Pay the athletes, not just to win Worlds, but to win any tournament under the IBJJF banner. Someone posted “Cyborg” received $40,000 for winning the IBJJF grand prix. Okay, that’s good for a nights work, but what about the other athletes? Did the IBJJF foot the bill for everyone who competed to fly out? Did they pay for hotels? What was the reward for the athletes who lost in the first round? If you’ve ever traveled for a tournament, you know that money burns fast, so $40,000 goes up quick if you’re consistently trying to make it to IBJJF Opens in the effort to qualify for worlds. Then you have to find a way to make money, which cuts into recovery time, thus making steroids an attractive option.
Here’s the thing, the adult black belt competitors are not funding the IBJJF, and if you’ve seen the big tournaments, it is feasible that there is some spare money in that organization. I’m not saying that the for profit thing needs to stop, but if you want less steroids among professional grapplers, it might be time to start treating them like professional grapplers.