Rafael Ellwanger da Silva was recently ranked number one in the world over this past weekend (according to ibjjfrankings.com).
Ellwanger won the gold medal in open weight, black belt, no gi and earned the silver in the black belt ultra heavyweight, no gi, only losing to the 7 time world champion Rodrigo Comprido at the Chicago Open International.
“I did not feel great, I was babying a left knee injury which made me choose my training partners carefully, but to be honest you forget about everything and do your thing. Losers keep saying what went wrong and why they lost, I fought a better man and did my best and it was not enough.” says Rafael on his silver medal winning performance in the ultra heavy division.
But he was able to rebound and win the gold in the open weight contest, “I had the opportunity to come back strong on the open weight class and everything worked my way. My confidence was up and my posistions felt strong, cardio was not quite there but I could use my experience to manage the time and win. My life goal was becoming a world champion as a black belt and I had the oppurtunity by qualifying for open weight from my performance in the ultra heavy divison, I had a perfect run and won.”
These two dramatic feats propelled Rafael up the rankings from #5 to number #1 overall. Passing up the likes of former UFC middleweight contender Ricardo Almeida, Walter Fontes Vital Jr., Daniel Alvarez Jr., and Fabiano Scherner.
“I feel like the king of the jungle.” says Ellwanger on being number 1 in the world.
Not only did this Brazillian bull come home with gold but his camp made out like rockstars bringing more heavy medal back to their Gracie United Gym in Hammond, Louisiana.
Rodney Gemar, a local Police Officer of Hammond received a silver medal at ultra heavy gi as a brown belt, a gold for open class gi in the brown belt category and golds in no gi ultra heavy brown belt, and no gi open class brown belt.
Nathan Lott, a local Pastor was awarded a gold medal in the heavy brown belt gi category and in the heavy brown belt no gi. He also received silver medals in the brown belt open and closed gi.
“I am super proud of my guys, Rodney is the first student of my Hammond gym, he is currently #4 in the world and had a perfect event. He showcased great positions and several high level submissions. Nathan is ranked #7 in the world and fought very smart and efficiently. more conservative than Rodney. We perform very well as a team and when athletes from the same division close that division we count it as double gold.”
All in all the trio captured 10 medals at the event and basically two silver’s should be gold but the team doesn’t fight each other in their respected divisions. The small town of Hammond, Louisiana seems to be morphing into a hotbed of BJJ stalwarts under the tutelege of new World Number 1 ranked, Raphael Ellwanger.