Next Up: Pedro Barbosa

By Matthew Gioia

Born and raised in Araruama, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Pedro Barbosa is poised to become a household name in the Ultra-Heavyweight black belt division. He first discovered the power of jiu jitsu when he, like many other Brazilian youth, was looking to enter the world of mixed martial arts. Given the choice between muay thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Barbosa quickly fell in love with the gi and discarded any striking training to focus exclusively on becoming a dominant grappler. 

Under Ricardo Alberto Travis, “Pedrinho” quickly racked up quite the resume winning numerous IBJJF tournaments throughout Brazil before his success catapulted him to the United States in 2018. From that moment on “Pedrinho” was able to flourish winning both the Las Vegas and San Jose IBJJF Opens.

Promoted to Black belt in February 2023 following a serious knee injury, “Pedrinho”  was invited to train under Professor Javier Gomez  and has quickly established himself as a threat in the  black belt division placing at the IBJJF Orange County Open and the IBJJF Sacramento International Open cementing a ranking in the Ultra heavyweight black belt division.

Not content with following the conventional path of other Ultra Heavyweights, “Pedrinho” looked to establish himself as an excellent guard player.

“I grew up at an academy who most of the students played guard, and I never was really good in takedowns and in ultra heavyweight the most of athletes do takedowns, so i started to train my guard game and i always was inspired by peoples who came from the same school i used to train when i was white, blue and purple belt. I always tried to play my friends’ game like Jose Junior, Marcos Paulo Costa, Eder Persiliano, Lucas Ramos, Roberto Ramos. And i tried to join one specific position in their game and build my own.”

This dedication to understand the fundamentals of the closed guard position is pertinent for “Pedrinho” as being able to control the sport’s largest athletes from guard gives him a huge advantage when it comes to fatiguing his opponents. 

A great study when it comes to closed guard, “Pedrinho” eschews flash for fundamentals as he has meticulously drilled and executed attacks that every jiu jitsu athlete has learned. “Pedrinho” typically looks to control his opponents sleeves in closed guard in order to control their ability to post. If his opponent refuses to engage, “Pedrinho” goes to the oft-forgotten hip bump sweep.

If attempt to base out and stand, “Pedrinho” continues to control one of his opponent’s sleeves in order to maintain control of his opponent’s posture before attacking the ankle with a hip bump in order to sweep his opponent into the mount position. 

If his opponent is able to somehow break free of his closed guard, “Pedrinho” continues to control the sleeves as a means to break posture before creating leverage points on his opponent’s hips and launches into his explosive balloon sweep. 

Pedro Barbosa has an expert understanding of both the tactics and strategy required to employ closed guard at the ultra-heavyweight division. Tactically he understands that in order to stop the largest men in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from being able to stand up and attack, it is imperative to break their posture and the sleeve grip is the most energy efficient way to do so. Strategically he understands that closed guard is the reverse of mount and so if he is able to sweep his opponent, he is most likely to end up in the mount position, which is the most difficult position to escape from, especially for his division. 

Only 25 years of age and after persevering through a potentially career altering injury, Pedro Barbosa has only gotten better. WIth a fundamentally solid game, his career should only improve with age as he continued to medal at the most prestigious tournaments including a bronze medal at the 2024 IBJJF San Jose Open. No doubt a future contender at all IBJJF majors, look for “Pedrinho” to make his name known to all over the next few years.