Mindset / News / Training Tips / Highlights / History / Lifestyle / Techniques / New to Jiu Jitsu / Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine


Despite fracturing both his fibula and tibia in the UAE just twelve months ago, Luiz Panza is back to compete at the World Pro – and he’s stronger than ever.

Rewind to April of 2015, and with just 15 seconds left on the clock, Luiz Panza looked odds on to claim a momentous victory over Felipe Pena at the Abu Dhabi World Pro. What followed was one of the strangest and most horrific leg breaks we’ve ever seen on a jiu jitsu mat. “At first, I didn’t feel anything, and I thought the referee had stopped the match because he thought I’d tapped,” explains Panza. “It wasn’t until I tried to lift my leg up and I saw my foot just flopping down that I realised what had happened. I think I went into shock after that because I only remember a few things, like being in the ambulance.”

The injury had occurred while Felipe Pena was applying a toehold, with both athletes rolling awkwardly and inflicting intense pressure on Panza’s lower leg. The whole stadium became instantly aware of the seriousness of the injury, and it looked like Panza’s jiu jitsu career was in jeopardy. “It was a freak accident really – the worst injury I had ever had," says Panza. "The doctors told me it could take two years to come back, but a few friends said maybe eight months.”

wppjc finals2-8

With both his fibula and tibia fractured, it was obvious Panza was set for some serious surgery. Once his operation was completed, the Checkmat athlete was left with a permanent metal plate and twenty-three screws in his lower leg, and what looked like a long road to recovery on the cards. However, what followed was a miraculous run of rehabilitation that saw Panza return to jiu jitsu competition in just nine months.

“After six weeks I was having light rolls with my physiotherapist – he was just making me move,” states Panza. "Then after two months I started to train with my students, using my leg a little bit and doing my physiotherapy twice per day. I just kept my focus the whole time on recovering and coming back strong. The first tournament back for me was the New York Pro Trials and I took second place, which wasn’t too bad after such a long time away. Then I fought the Pan Ams and I won my division, and now I am back here in Abu Dhabi to compete again at the World Pro.”

Twelve months down the line from his accident, Panza returns to the scene of his career-threatening injury looking to take home a World title. For many, the prospect of going back to the venue where they’d suffered such a traumatic ordeal could be too much to handle. However, for Panza, it’s just another day at the office. “I thought I would maybe feel a bit strange being back at the venue, but to be honest I just felt normal,” says Panza. “It’s just another tournament, another opportunity and I have the same desire to fight. I think it’s important to keep bad thoughts from your mind, it’s not good for you (laughs).

The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship gets underway from April 19th, so keep an eye on our website and social networks for more news.

April 18, 2016 — Jiu Jitsu Style