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EBI 3 Review


EBI 3 Review

ebi3.0.0It’s a shame that the headlines leading out of the third incarnation of the Eddie Bravo Invitational had more to do with the behind the scenes business dealings of the sport, rather than the actual practice of jiu-jitsu itself. But such is jiu-jitsu.  We all want the sport to grow and the players to be compensated accordingly—and, as it turns out, still have a ton of differing opinions on how all of that should be carried out.  As a result, statements about statements, rampant speculation about dealings pretty much no one has any real clue about, and continued rhetorical nonsense sadly divert the attention away from a series of matches (and the very talented athletes involved in said matches) that truly merit some attention.

Because if we’re talking about EBI 3 on it’s own merit, there’s plenty to talk about.

Days before the event, invitational namesake—and 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu founder—Eddie Bravo hit the rounds and made the intentions of his current passion project very clear: the goal of the Eddie Bravo Invitational is to get jiu-jitsu on network television.

It’s a bold declaration and one that the sport seems to be inching closer to each day (or so the optimistic of us keep telling ourselves).

Still the question at hand seems to be: is EBI ready for network television?

If we’re basing this purely on demonstrated athletic talent and the display of an alternative to the norm of sport jiu-jitsu, then yes.  EBI has carved out a niche unto itself that takes the difficult task of staging a 16 man tournament and making it feel fresh.  Utilizing a unique format and overtime ruleset (a tiebreaker system again designed to culminate in a finish), the event manages to extract a set of performances out of its competitors that you actively do not see at other invitationals/simulcast jiu-jitsu events.

Then again, that might also be because each submission in regulation can potentially net them $2,500, but incentive is hardly a bad thing (especially for spectators).

At the very least, EBI sets itself apart from other organizations through a few critical avenues.

For one, the athletes seem game to keep the action fast and submission-oriented.  While a lot of organizations talk about putting a premium on a “finish,” EBI is one of the few formats that delivers on it in record time.  Many of the submissions came within the three to four minute mark, as competitors showed they were less concerned about finding a position to stall or safely sit in and more about initiating the chase.  And when it works, the exchanges are nerve-wracking (if you’re a participant and haven’t worked your heel hook defense, you should probably stay home).

The accelerated effort by the athletes also seems to lead to an accelerated pace for the event.  To put things in perspective, eighteen matches took place during this three hour plus event—which is nearly three times the amount of matches for roughly the same price as Metamoris, with approximately forty percent more submissions (those are just the facts).

Additionally, EBI is also not short on star power.  People like Richie “Boogeyman” Martinez, Eddie “Wolverine” Cummings, Nathan Orchard, and Josh Hinger are certifiable rock stars who thrive in fast-paced formats like this (while EBI 3 standouts Darragh O’Conaill and Karen Darabedyan were given a great avenue to show off their considerable skill).  Their precision for attacks and ability to transition are truly things of beauty.

Which is why even a bold move like adding a “starring” credit to the marquee pays off in dividends.  Giving Garry Tonon top billing is a move that, frankly, you don’t really see too much from rival organizations.  In a 16 man tournament where anyone can have a bad day, it’s logistically a risky endeavor to single out one person.

However, in Tonon’s case, the placement of his name in bold letters comes with good reason.

Garry puts on a show.

As the past few months have shown, it doesn’t matter if he has a match against a relative newcomer, a seasoned pro or even a current teammate (thank you, Garry and Eddie for giving us more than a gentleman’s agreement to the next round), Tonon will make a match worth your while.  Now a two-time welterweight champ, it is easy to see why he has become the epicenter of all things exciting in jiu-jitsu.  With a mix of definitive finishes and matches that showed a gritty resolve in the toughest of spots, Tonon earned every bit of having his name on the marquee.

That said, you know your bench of talent is deep when your champion doesn’t even get the biggest ovation of the night.  That honor went to the stars of one of the kids super fights, Grace Gundrum and Alyssa Wilson, whose matches alongside Demian Balderrama, Jacob Harris, Jessa Kahn, and Cora Sek prove that not only is the future of the sport in good hands, but that it also looks terrifying.  If this is how good their jiu-jitsu is now, just imagine how much better these kids are going to get as they progress.

The inclusion of three kids super fights ended up being one of the highlights of the evening’s festivities, as the stars of tomorrow proved they were capable of putting on matches that were equally (if not more) entertaining than their adult counterparts.  If you haven’t already, please take a look at the very fun match between Gundrum and Wilson right here:

Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

However, going back to our earlier prompt of being ready for network television, there are a few considerations to explore:

I am a huge fan of the organization’s commitment to showcase new talent.  EBI is one of the few jiu-jitsu tournaments that puts new talent (of varying degrees of skills and specialties) on the same mats with established names to create interesting, if not sometimes unexpectedly entertaining stylistic match ups.  Nonetheless, if we’re talking network level sports, we’re going to need narratives.  The introduction to the athletes is an important tool in describing their own journeys to audiences who often have little understanding or comprehension of the sport.  The more audiences understand the athlete, the more they’ll tune in.

Additionally, in terms of venue, while the Orpheum Theatre put jiu-jitsu front and center of a large stage, the set up really seemed to limit the number of angles that the camera could capture the action.  While simplifying the set up, it also makes it harder to get the angles that compliment the ridiculously fast and furious style displayed by many of the athletes.

Finally, for the love of everything holy, would it kill one organization to know how to properly sign off on a broadcast?  The commentating team did a just fine job talking us through the matches, but at the end of the evening a wrap-up to close out the show seemed more like an afterthought—as the three members of the commentary team struggled to find the words to sum up the experience.  Moreover, while the live audience seemed thrilled by the matches, they jumped out of their seats rapidly thinking the show was over.  By the time someone came out to give finals participants, Tonon and Hinger, the opportunity to talk about their experience, only a fraction of the audience seemed aware this was part of the protocol.  If the live audience’s evacuation is any indication for spectator interest (it is), it’s a good indication they want the close of a show to be directed by the commentary team who have their short soundbites ready to encapsulate their experience.

That last one might not seem like a major consideration to the everyday jiu-jitsu fanatic, but—if we’re talking about getting this on TV—presentation is everything.  Though it should be noted, EBI is hardly alone of being guilty of this.

Nonetheless, watching the progression from EBI 2 to EBI 3 is one that signals hope.  While EBI 2 had a night club vibe that staged not one, but two sixteen man tournaments to an occasionally rowdy audience (that seemed to wane as the event made its way into the early part of the next morning), EBI 3 demonstrated that the organizers are ready to make adjustments to improve the overall audience experience.  And for it’s first time airing on internet television (thanks to the folks at Budo Videos), it’ll be interesting to watch as they continue to adjust for the experiences for those watching at home as well.

While we wait for the next EBI, several other tournaments and events will come and go.  With more options will come more dealings, as competition will breed more changes to the headline narratives.  Even though it’s fun to entertain the headlines from time to time, for those of you already sick of the politics dominating your newsfeeds, I offer you this following consideration:

As more competition will enter the fray, your voice will hold more sway than ever before.  If you care more about actual matches than gossip, then seek out those matches.  And whatever it is that you do support, do so boldly.

Because people and organizations will be watching the numbers as they tinker with formats and presentation—and as the crazy turn of events this week has proven, we are no longer in same era of competitive professional jiu-jitsu anymore.

Our thanks to Blanca Marisa Garcia and Ryan Drexler from for allowing us to use their photos for this article.


Video: AROUND THE MAT (Episode 1)


Video: AROUND THE MAT (Episode 1)


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Around the Mat, Episode 1 | Like many of you, I don’t feel jiu-jitsu gets the credit it deserves.

Sure, it’s made incredible leaps and bounds in popular culture over the last two decades, but it seems like most sports media outlets don’t really know what to do with the sport.

At times, it can be frustrating, sickening, downright criminal that our athletes don’t get the proper respect or acknowledgement for the performances they give on the mat.  With our training partners and in our gyms, we talk a good game about how it’s truly a shame this happensas the cynics among us argue “maybe the sport isn’t right for mainstream sports coverage?”

John Evans

We, however, respectfully disagree.

As a student of media, I've ingested my own fair share of sports media and talk shows. Which is why you can't convince me that for all the pomp and circumstance cable shows ascribe to a ten second video clip of Tom Brady throwing a football during the off-season (“OMG guys, Tom Brady threw a football today—and it looked GOOD; they going to the Super Bowl this season!”), we can't find a way to talk about some of the cool things going on in a sport like ours that doesn't even have the luxury of an off-season.

It was with that concept in mind, a collection of like-minded folks from the BJJ community decided to pull their resources together (and form like Voltron) to create our own little jiu-jitsu panel talk show we like to call Around the Mat.

Lex Fridman

In it, we have clips from some of your favorite matches at this year’s IBJJF’s Worlds, an interview with the winner of the submission-only winner of the brutal Dream Jiu Jitsu Baddest Brown tournament (Brian Carlsen), and all the panelist trash talk you can handle.

Not only do we talk about current events in the sport of jiu-jitsu, but we also do our best to shine a light on the BJJ competitors who are doing extraordinary things on the mats around the world.  It's our hope to spotlight athletes who are household names and up-and-coming bad ass jiu-jitsu competitors

This week we chat with Brian Calrsen who, through his major win at Dream's Baddest Brown, helps us understand the mindset of a grueling submission-only format, the differences between sub-only and competing two weeks earlier at the IBJJF Worlds, and even the mental mindset needed to compete in a 51 minute match against Sebastian Brosche (and still have to compete in a no time limit, semi-final and final match).

Kevin trying the whole photo thing.

The video above marks a true labor of love among a collection of jiu-jitsu enthusiasts and practitioners.  As we go on, we'll bring on new panelists and modify the format (based on any feedback you might be willing to provide).  But, the group of us here are truly passionate about the sport and hope we can help contribute in a positive way.

We're proud of the product and we look forward to hearing what you guys think about it.  Thanks for watching and we hope you enjoy it!



Reprint: Support Nampa Nogi: A Non-Profit Grappling Gym

This is an article I hope helped do some good for a group of guys who basically wanted to help out others who couldn't afford jiu-jitsu in one of the lowest income per capita regions of the US. I haven't had the chance to catch up with these guys lately, but I'd love to hear how their story has progressed since the time of this interview.

Many fans of the UFC freely admit they may never be the next Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin or Rich Franklin (at least the sane one’s do), but for a healthy number of Mixed Martial Arts enthusiasts, MMA is more than just a spectator sport.

For every professional fighter who spends hours in the gym trying to diversify their fight game, there are hundreds of amateur practitioners hitting the mats to stay in shape, improve their confidence or stay focused outside of school.

And for those weekend warriors—who aren’t necessarily looking to end up in the Octagon—the long term commitment to regularly practice Mixed Martial Arts is not just time consuming, it can also slowly chip away at one’s disposable income.

Enter Nampa Nogi. A donation-based, not-for-profit organization, spearheaded by three MMA practitioners, that aims to create a space for like-minded individuals in Nampa, Idaho who are struggling to make ends meet, but don’t have the money to train at a gym.

And what would be the total cost per month to join said proposed gym: absolutely nothing.

“We’re looking to fund a non-profit, volunteer-based grappling gym. We know lots of people in the area who do martial arts… like [UFC fighter] Scott Jorgensen who’s doing some videos with us,” said Nampa Nogi co-founder Samuel Lang.

Through the use of the website, (think kickstarter, but more different), Lang and two of his fellow MMA enthusiasts Shayne Yetter, and Austin Hanzlik are asking for fellow fight fans, martial artists, and, yes, even famed MMA fighters to give what they can (donations as small as $1 on up) to help fund their community gym.

“Just on our Twitter campaign we’ve got a lot of re-tweets from people, even UFC fighters who ask ‘where is this,’ ‘oh man, I wish this was in my area.’ I have multiple notes in my inbox that say ‘maybe this’ll start a trend.’ Hopefully,” said Lang.

According to Yetter, the idea to open a gym came about after the trio interacted with a number of individuals throughout their community who had an interest in MMA, but who couldn’t afford to take classes with them.

“All gyms are expensive, but MMA gyms are sometimes even twice as expensive as that. I think a lot more people would enjoy doing if they had more opportunities. And there’s not that many opportunities for the casual, non-professional fighter,” said Hanzlik

While the three guys were able to teach many of the fundamentals to their friends (even drawing upon Lang’s ex-military training and experience rolling at Jorgensen’s Combat fitness), they found themselves without a permanent place to roll for the growing number of individuals who expressed interest in training.

“I think the main difference between using an established space as opposed to organizing a large group of people at a park or getting some mats and rolling somewhere else is: 1) it’s not weather specific and 2) that you have a permanent place that’s inviting to others to basically come and train when they can—that’s what we’re going for,” said Yetter.

The trio, who have received shout outs from UFC fighters like Jon Jones, Urijah Faber, and Brian Stann for their cause on twitter, state that their ultimate goal is to utilize willing mixed martial arts experts and blackbelts in the community who have expressed interest in teaching at their space.

“Right now we’ve got more than a few dozen people interested, but I think that’ll change as we get closer to our goal. Mostly, because the physical place isn’t ready yet and we can’t promote it until it’s done. I think people are skeptical that this could even happen, but we’re pretty much putting everything we can into it.”

And yet, despite a flood of positive responses and well wishes from supporters on the interweb, the group’s is currently $2,300 shy of its $3,000 goal going into the home stretch of the campaign (the campaign ends at 11:59pm on September 14th).

With a designated training space already accessible and ready for renovation and a partner with a background in construction (Hanzlik), all of the money raised from the campaign to be used to purchase mats and lumber.

“The construction is to physically raise the floor up a little bit, put some plywood on it, give it a little bit of spring in it, put mats on top of that. Mats are the main thing that we don’t have in our space. But that’s goal, getting the space in a place that makes it safe and we can get people to come,” said Hanzlik.

But what happens if they don’t make their goal?

“We’re putting a lot of sweat equity into it already, I’m currently covering a lot of construction and tools out of my own pocket. We all work and we all have families, so we’re not going to be able to put in thousands of dollars, but we know a place like this could help,” said Hanzlik.

A sentiment that’s echoed by Lang.

“If we don’t make our goal, we’re still going to try and find a way to get something going for the community, but that’s in addition to everything else—time, promotion, organizing, and maintenance—once we actually get the gym up,” said Lang.

And what do they have to say to charitable donors who may be concerned they’re merely funding a recreational fight club for three guys and their friends?

“I think our best appeal to potential donors is this: the people who do train know how it makes them feel. It gives you a sense of belonging, a sense of team. It’s all about martial arts and sharing it with others. And to know you can give it to someone else—knowing they might not be able to afford it in the same way you can—its really an amazing feeling,” said Lang.

For more info on where to donate, visit their Indiegogo site or follow their Twitter (@MovementMMA).



World Jiu-Jitsu Expo - Five Grappling Interview

There's been a lot of talk lately about Five GrapplingIf you're like me, you've seen dozens of mentions of it on Facebook with a five man round robin (and a mysterious jiu-jitsu practitioner known as "?").

Which is why it was so great when the CEO of the company, Dayan Henson took some time out of his schedule at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo to talk with us about his big event this weekend in Anaheim.

If you live in LA, they still have some limited tickets available.  But if you want to catch the action, Five Grappling will be airing the fights live on their website (FREE!!!) at  Be sure to give them a look.

And, also, please don't mention to them that I still have the belt.  Thank you.



World Jiu-Jitsu Expo - Interview with Keenan Cornelius

Keenan Cornelius is good people.  In the following video, he talks about how he ended up beating Lucas Leite via arm bar at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo.

Annnnd... if that's not enough.  He also demonstrates a brand new choke (we've dubbed "The Mic Choke") on Kevin.  That, my friends, is worth watching.  Just look at the fear on Kevin's face.  It's real.  It's damn real.

For more on our coverage of this year's World Jiu-Jitsu Expo, check out our podcast about the event right here!


One More Time: Isaac Doederlein Demonstrates a "Flying Leg Drag"


One More Time: Isaac Doederlein Demonstrates a "Flying Leg Drag"


Isaac John Me

One of the benefits of knowing BJJ Breakdown’s JOHN EVANS (and there are many) is that the guy knows good people.

Not just people who are good at jiu-jitsu, but a number of elite individuals who share such a passion and reverence for teaching the gentle art.

Isaac Doederlein is one of those people.

After receiving a number of requests asking for a breakdown of one of Isaac's competition techniques, John asked Isaac to show us his "Flying Leg Drag" in the very first installment of BJJ Breakdown's technique demonstrations.

If you're not quite familiar with Isaac just yet, I'd highly encourage all of you to take a quick look at the following examples below to get an idea of the intense game this guy brings to the table.  It shouldn't take long to understand how this very talented featherweight recently captured double gold at the 2013 American Nationals.

And here's a video of Isaac using the very technique he demonstrated with John up top.

I have to say, watching Isaac break down the "Flying Leg Drag" was truly something awesome to see in person.  While the movement may seem very chaotic, there is a systematic process to it all and Isaac does a great job of explaining for both the jiu-jitsu competitor and layman.

In fact, as a true credit to Isaac, I walked away from this demonstration feeling like I actually understood it.  And as someone who suffers from an extreme case of "jiu-jitsu dislexia"™, that's truly an achievement (just don't expect to see me trying this any time soon, I'm far too slow and dumb to pull this one off).

Nonetheless, my thanks to Isaac for taking the time to show us this truly cool technique.  Dude's a class act and I can't wait to see what lies in store for him.

And I think John's got some more footage with Isaac that will be up in the coming days, but if you can do us a solid and give the "Flying Leg Drag" video a LIKE on YouTube it'd be greatly appreciated.  The more likes we get, the more likely you are to see even more techniques with a few friends from our collective rolodexes (side note: Do people even use rolodexes anymore?  Is that a thing?)

Moral of the story: Share the video with your friends and let us know what you think of it.  We'd love to hear your feedback!




28 Things We Learned from UFC Fight Night on Fox Sports 1

Sometimes a UFC Fight Night comes and goes so fast you miss the story behind the story.  Don't worry, Raf's got you covered.  Check out the 28 things that we learned from the premiere of Fox Sports 1 (a.k.a. "Fox Sports Juan"). 1.  Sometimes you can have the best guillotine of the evening and still lose the Submission of the Night bonus to some other guy.

2.  Never let Ovince St. Preux inside of your guard.

3.  This is what Ronda Rousey would look like if she starred in a sequel to a Nicholas Sparks movie. #TheNotebook2


4.  Sometimes if a fight is too close to call the judges will side with the person who took more time to put on their shirt.

5.  It's never impolite to ask the ref, "do I have to hit this guy anymore?"

6.  Try as we might, fights are not "Best 2/3."

7.  For whatever reason, Conor McGregor was really over with this crowd. #Boston #Irish #Drunk

8.  The best offense does not involve letting your opponent tire out his fists by hitting you multiple times in the face.

9.  Turns out, Wet Willies have no effect on Max Holloway.

10.  Sometimes Conor McGregor thinks he's the Irish Batman.

11.  Maybe everyone deserved a Submission of the Night bonus?

12.  Yeah, basically jiu-jitsu is pretty awesome.

13.  Brad Pickett does a pretty sweet impression of a Picasso painting.

14.  A knuckle sandwich is a real thing.

15.  This is the last time Uriah Hall ever takes a page out of Chun Li's playbook.








16.  Uriah might have lost the fight the minute he got caught trying to complete the maze in John Howard's hair.

17.  Uriah's pretty much over this decision. But in all fairness, Howard did throw more high fives during the fight.

18.  Matt Brown was probably a little more inspired to knock out Mike Pyle after getting the bird flipped at him inside the cage.

20.  Whoa, whoa, whoa, how the shit did this happen so fast?

21.  "Oh, pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease work, I'm so losing..."

22.  "No way, that worked!"

23.  "Oh my God, everything hurts BUT THIS IS AMAZING!"

24.  Best Belly-to-Belly guard pull ever.

25.  "Is Chael Sonnen gonna have to choke a bitch?"

26.  Seems Chael is one of the few lucky enough to know "levitation guard."

27.  Joe Rogan has no problem being called "a middle-aged comedian", as long as it comes from the Don Rickels of MMA.

28.  "No, but seriously... can someone explain what just happened?"

That'll do it for us.  If for some reason you missed some of the highlights, here are a few Fox Sports Juan put together for everyone to enjoy.  It's perfect for the person who's said, "you know, I like my slow motion replays, but I just wish they were shown at a much slower frame rate."

Good night and good fight, golks.



BJJ Breakdown Breaks Down Kevin

As some of you may recall, last month Kev competed in a no gi, BJJ tourney over on the other side of the world (Virgina).  Turns out, we found video evidence of it.  And our pal, JOHN EVANS, was nice enough to give that match the royal BJJ Breakdown treatment.

Not only does John do a nice job of analyzing Kev's technique (or occasional lack thereof), but he's also nice enough to ignore the fact that Kevin's shirt makes him look like a slightly slimmer Kool-Aid Man.

On a serious note, we'd like to thank John Wiseman Franklin for allowing us to put the match up on our website and BJJ Breakdown to analyze it.  We hope it's an educational tool for all those who enjoy BJJ and who enjoy making fun of Kevin as much as I do.

And props to the always excellent BJJ Breakdown.  Hopefully we'll have more of these in the future for you to analyze.  My only request is that next time there be more jokes at Kev's expense (like this, "I'm glad to see they settled on a catch weight for this match.  And by catch weight, I mean, Kev 'caught' a case of being fat."  That's just off the top of my head; I'm happy to refine it).


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Metamoris 2: Match Breakdown and Commentary

John Evans

Raf's Edit | The world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be a tricky beast.  Because there are so many intricate movements and strategies involved in the game that can go unnoticed to the casual observer (a.k.a. me), we thought it best to bring along a BJJ technician to Metamoris to help us decipher the high-level techniques utilized by the athletes on the card.  Which is why we're asking you to give a big welcome to our go-to BJJ technician, Mr. John Evans (and from this photo of him on the right, you can see he thinks A LOT about BJJ).  John is a BJJ practitioner and competitor who also teaches and has a website ( dedicated to the educational deconstruction of Jiu-Jitsu and grappling matches.  So be a pal and welcome him to the Verbal Tap family as he takes you through this year's Metamoris event.

For more with John, check out his guest appearance on our Metamoris themed podcast here.

Metamoris 2: Breakdown

Victor Estima vs. JT Torres - gi


With his switch to atos, it's questionable if JT has had enough time to settle into his new team.  Estima has been on a tear, and should be the favorite.

Match Summary

Victor comes out and immediately starts attacking JT’s feet.  This continues throughout the match, with Victor allowing himself to be swept often, seemingly only interested in leg locks.  Victor strongly favors the knee-reap position—which is interesting to see, as that position is illegal in almost all gi tournaments.

JT does doing an excellent job of avoiding Victor’s submission attempts, while also sweeping and maintaining top position.  The end of the match has Victor switching to 50/50 with a lapel grip around JT’s trapped leg, allowing him to sweep and finally attack a belly down foot lock.  This attempt looks deep, but JT’s face never shows signs of worry.

Despite JT maintaining top position and sweeping with relative ease (even attacking a few leg locks of his own), it felt that he was defending the attacks from Victor for the majority of the match and I give him the slight edge in this fight.  The Judges see it as a slightly closer fight than I did, calling it a draw (a call I’m not very upset with).

Mackenzie Dern Vs. Michelle Nicolini - gi


These two have been on a collision course ever since Dern received her black belt. Having matched up previously at the Abu Dhabi World Pro, with Nicolini playing a smart game of pulling guard and sweeping toward the end of the match to secure the win, I give the edge to Nicolini going into this match.

Match Summary

Dern comes out extremely aggressive.  I am surprised to see such a relentless offense and even wonder if Nicolini will be able to handle such an onslaught.  Dern has a tight toe-hold early on, but Michelle is able to escape.  The fight goes to double guard, both athletes trading sweeps.  Both competitors going for berimbolo attempts until Nicolini attacks a toe-hold with one hand.

Dern softens the attack by holding onto one of Nicolini’s sleeves, making the toe-hold one handed, though it somehow still looks tight.  The excitement continues as Dern strings together a triangle choke to armbar transition.  Nicolini avoids Dern’s attacks, then counters with a kneebar of her own.  Time ticks down as Nicolini visibly puts everything into finishing the kneebar.  Dern, however, is able to escape as the clock expires for this match.  The most exciting match of the night and a draw in the truest sense of the word.  The judges agree with this assessment and also declare the match a draw.

Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu vs. Brendan Schaub - nogi


Cyborg is a seasoned grappler, a big , strong guy that moves like a featherweight.  On top of this, he is a very good competitor.  Brendan Schaub is an MMA fighter and not one particularly known for his grappling.  The clear advantage goes to Cyborg.

Match Summary

Cyborg shoots for a takedown, Brendan sprawls and grabs a front head-and-arm.  Cyborg is able to pull guard off this failed takedown attempt.  Schaub avoids playing in Cyborg's guard and pulls back.

The majority of this match plays out like this: Schaub avoiding takedown attempts, Cyborg sitting to guard, Schaub not engaging Cyborg in his guard, and Schaub running from Cyborg (both figuratively and literally).

Cyborg does get Schaub into his famous half guard a few times, but is unable to pull off a tornado sweep or knee bar during the fleeting seconds that Schaub actually stays in the pocket.  In the last 30 seconds of the fight, a frustrated Cyborg shoots in.  Schaub sprawls once again and attacks a guillotine.  Cyborg is able to counter the choke attempt and ends up on top, after transitioning to side control and going for mount.  The match ends and the fans boo Schaub when he explains it is a victory for him to have avoided submission. The judges declare Cyborg the winner.  An incredibly boring match that has sense spawned many hilarious photoshop masterpieces (like this and this).

Andre Galvao vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. - gi


Galvao is the favorite for this match, but with Lovato’s exceptional performance in this rule-set last year (coupled with some impressive footage of him rolling with Marcelo Garcia recently), Lavato is not to be counted out.

Match Summary

This match is back and forth, with a lot of standup.  Neither athlete wanting to give up the top position, Galvao eventually pulls guard and tries for an immediate sweep.  Lovato is not interested in Galvao’s tricks, though apparently surprised by the guard pull and the fight scrambles back to the feet.

At one point, Galvao attempts a flying triangle, which Lovato is able to shake off despite looking valid initially.  Galvao keeps going back to his strategy of takedown attempts mixed with hasty guard pulls that flow directly into attacks.  This strategy appears to be wearing on Lovato, and Galvao is successful with a few sweeps and guard passes.

Galvao’s passing looks sharp and dominant even against a waning Lovato, who refuses to accept defeat.  Lovato shows a lot of heart and some excellent guard retention, as he continually recovers from bad positions until the fight is over.  Judges’ decision goes unanimously to Galvao.

Braulio Estima vs. Rodolfo Vieira - gi


Not really sure if there is a favorite in this match.  One of the greatest passers of all time vs. one of the greatest guards.  Rodolfo is extremely dominant, but looked almost human against Buchecha at the Worlds one week prior.  Braulio is a top 5 grappler at any weight, but has not been as active as he once was.

Match Summary

This and the Nicolini vs. Dern match are my two personal favorites, both very exciting.  Braulio comes out and goes right to his guard. Rodolfo is vicious in his passing, but Braulio thwarts the attempts every time with a peculiar foot-in-lapel guard.  I ask Braulio about this guard later in the press conference and he refers to it as the "galaxy guard."

After a grueling 10 minutes, Rodolfo is finally successful in his passing, but is once again put back into guard when he attempts moving to north/south.  Rodolfo will not give up trying to pass, and is tiring just to watch.  Braulio’s galaxy guard is giving Rodolfo fits, as Rodolfo is continually milliseconds away from securing pass after pass, only to be lifted up and placed back into Braulio’s guard.

This is exhausting for both men, one applying grinding pressure, the other having to leg-press the former with each pass attempt.  With 30 seconds left, Rodolfo passes, albeit with Braulio’s foot still in his lapel, then jumps on an opportunity at a 180 armlock.  Rodolfo goes belly down to finish Braulio, but Braulio pulls his arm out and starts to attack Rodolfo’s back as the final seconds tick away.  The fight finishes with both practitioners in guard.  Rodolfo looks extremely depleted.

Rodolfo gets the decision 2 to 1, which I agree with, due to Braulio defending nearly the whole match, even though his guard retention was unbelievable.  Braulio later reveals that his goal was to use the galaxy guard because he hurt one of his fingers in his victory over Galvao at the worlds previously.

Kron Gracie vs. Shinya Aoki – nogi


Kron Gracie is an incredible grappler and—though he’s never won any world titles at the black belt level—he submitted the current gi world champion in the 1st Metamoris, arguably making him one of the greatest in his weight class.  Shinya Aoki, on the other hand, is a submission specialist from the MMA world.  Very rarely can a grappler be successful coming from MMA into a pure grappling environment against world class opposition for the first time.  The favorite is unquestionably Kron Gracie.

Match Summary

Kron and Aoki take the center of the mat, grip fighting and trading foot sweeps unsuccessfully for the first 4 minutes.  Kron jumps to closed guard and threatens a guillotine.  Aoki exits the closed guard of Kron and positions his body slightly toward the cross-side of the choke, while stapling Kron’s legs together on the ground with his own.

They scramble to the feet, where Kron attempts another guillotine as Aoki rolls again to defend, landing himself on the receiving end of a mounted guillotine.  This time Aoki is falling off the side of the platform as a bystander holds Aoki’s body up with his back(?).  The ref steps in to reset the match back in the center (or so it seems) stands both competitors up and declares Kron the winner.

According to the ref, Kron had finished the guillotine while Aoki was falling off the mat.  This is really confusing to most fans at the venue, and really surprising to me, personally.  I 100% did not expect a different outcome as far as which competitor would emerge victorious, but it only stands to put a damper on the finale by allowing the event to end with even a modicum of controversy.

In the press conference I ask Aoki (famous for his submissions from guard), what his game plan was.  His response is to “to maintain the top at all times”.  He also states that the choke was complete and it would’ve ended the same way even if they hadn’t rolled off the mat.  Whether or not that is the humility of the Japanese culture speaking, or the actuality of the events that unfolded, only Aoki truly knows.

Overall Event Impressions

I love the idea behind Metamoris 2.  I know some of the fights will look boring to the casual viewer who may not have the depth of knowledge in grappling needed to truly appreciate the exact athleticism on display, but, as a whole, the fights were exciting.

With that said, the Brendan Schaub fight was just ill-conceived and played out accordingly.  In this particular match, the 20 minute time limit, coupled with the addition of judges, really changed the tone of this event for the worse.  And, in some ways, may have unintentionally drew more parallels to a traditional tournament than intended.

I also was disappointed in the commentary.  After watching the event live with no commentary I went home to hear what the broadcast sounded like.  Sadly, I was not as thrilled with the play-by-play as I expected to be.  Maybe I’m being too harsh because I commentate matches frequently on my own youtube page and have put in a fair amount of time trying to hone that skill.  Or maybe I expected more out of Ed O'Neill, unfairly and subconsciously requiring him to live up to the greatness of the rest of his career during his first attempt at commentating a BJJ event?  Nonetheless, I felt there was room for improvement there.

Despite those missteps, there were a lot of positive sides to this event.  One of the main upsides being the production value and the treatment of the athletes.  BJJ is still an emerging sport, popularity wise, and it’s not often that even the top competitors are treated as well as they were at Metamoris, let alone paid accordingly for their time and efforts.  So this is a great step forward for the entire sport.  Clearly there are problems with the current format of all jiu-jitsu tournaments and Metamoris is a direct response to that criticism.  And while they were not 100% successful in this particular event, it is difficult to look past the care and desire to put on a spectacle that's worthy of consideration.

The truth of the matter is, no one has come up with an effective solution to this competition conundrum.  The closest we’ve come is to have no time-limit, submission-only matches, but tournaments utilizing this format could never hope to predict the length of their event.  The only way to figure out the correct combination of ingredients in order to produce a tournament that balances excitement with reasonable scheduling, all while preserving the essence of jiu-jitsu, is to try new formats.

Metamoris may not have gotten it perfect this time, but they are arguably the  tournament that pushes the envelope to recapture the essence of the sport and, for that, they should be praised.

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I'm Just Here To Pay My Dues: The BJJ Notebook

ABJJ Notebooks some of you may know, the podcast and website are more than just hobbies for Kevin and me.  We both train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu recreationally and are big proponents of the "gentle art."  So even when we're not toiling away editing articles or the podcast, we're always trying to learn more about the craft. Over the years, I've seen this book pop up more than a number of times in my social media news feeds, but was never motivated to actually purchase it (and if not this one in particular, others like it).  Ultimately, I figured I could just make my own version of this book if I really wanted to.

And I did!  I tend to use a lot of moleskin notebooks a lot to jot down notes, jokes and observations and decided about a year ago to dedicate one such notebook solely to my BJJ training regimen.

It worked... for awhile.  I made a regular routine of writing down the lessons each day and figuring out what parts of my training I needed to concentrate on.  But, over time, I stopped writing in it on a regular basis.  I'd constantly lose it or forget to go over the day's featured technique.  Pretty soon, I found that lessons of the day would go by the wayside—leaving all that knowledge I was working so hard to build to just rot away in my brain (which, itself, is a fragile thing).  And, lo and behold, that happened to be exact moment when I felt parts of my training recall and execution were becoming stagnant.

It bugged me.  I'd occasionally pick up the book and try to start the routine over again, but, for whatever reason, it never seemed to stick.  Eventually I just figured it was gonna take something pretty big to motivate me to get back on track.

Enter our interview with Rafael Lovato Jr.

The night of that interview something just snapped.  Here we were interviewing a guy who didn't have the luxury of a nearby Black Belt teaching him how to improve his game when he was coming through the ranks.  He had to travel thousands of miles out of his way just to learn more about the process.  It wasn't just about wanting to be better, it was about making the commitment to be better.

Suddenly the "tough" challenge of writing in a journal didn't seem like such a difficult task by comparison.  Try as I might, I just couldn't justify my own excuses for skipping out on the BJJ journaling process—especially as a guy who likes to consider himself a writer.

Promptly after the interview, I saw a link for the book again that praised it's usefulness.  At this point I said to myself, "screw it, if I'm going to do this, my money should go to someone who took the time to make this and who appreciates the craft of BJJ like I do."

Moreover, I wanted the accountability.  The safest way to ever force yourself to do something is to make it an investment.  Suddenly I wasn't just forgetting to write in a training journal, it was now "hey dummy, you're wasting money if you don't keep this up."

So keep it up, I shall.

I'm happy to report that it landed on my desk two days after I put in the order and, as of this moment, I've already filled out two days worth of entries on a heavy training week.

Additionally, now that Kev and I have the luxury of the extended family that is the community, I feel it entirely appropriate to occasionally wax poetic on my own BJJ struggles to an audience who can either appreciate my perspective or have been there themselves.

I hope you all will keep me accountable on this and, in return, I'll try to bring the same eye for fun, nonsense and humor about my trials and tribulations with training in the same light I do for all things MMA, BJJ, and UFC posted on this website.  I'll let you know how my progress comes along (or doesn't).  It'll be a great time.

Sound good?  Deal!

Thanks in advance and I'll see you on the mats.



ACT NOW: "I Pull Guard T-Shirt"

pullguardfirstThis made me laugh today.  If I were single, I'd prolly purchase it myself. But, since I'm not, I will instead pass this on to all of you and let you do as you please.

It's on a deal for the next 18 hours or so, compliments of our friends over at BJJHQ.

If you get the deal it runs $15 right now.  So have at, jiu-jitsu nerds.

And, no, I get absolutely zero perks for mentioning it.  Just think it's kinda funny.



Triangle Choke... Marriage Proposal?

So when did mixed martial arts suddenly become the trendy way to propose marriage? Right off the heels of a razor thin victory proposal from Benson Henderson in the Octagon two weeks ago, we have this new video that was brought to our attention thanks to the good people over at Tap.Nap.Snap.Your MMA Recap.

During a perfectly normal roll between a couple, the male jiu-jitsu practitioner below decides to pull guard AND her heartstrings.

So... a few questions.  And since jiu-jitsu is never a perfect art, feel free to take my observations and notes here with a grain of salt.

  1. Would an arm triangle have made a stronger selection here? I respect the choice to go for a triangle choke, but might an arm triangle afforded an opportunity to slip the ring directly on the finger ("boom, you're engaged!")
  2. Was there a plan if she had said "no?"  Do you finish the choke if that were the case?
  3. Wait... in this scenario are you supposed to finish the choke?  I feel it's just bad drilling to just release the hold.  I mean, how are you ever going to learn the muscle memory for the move without the repetition?

I suppose the part that makes me laugh the most here, is watching the guy scramble for the ring while also playing defense (major props to the corner man who gives his buddy the ring in the ring!).  And then when he does actually get the ring, there's an added element of danger of "Wait, is he going to drop that?  What if he doesn't set the move up correctly and she ends up passing his guard?  What will happen then!!!  No one wants a marriage proposal from side mount!"

All kidding aside, we'd like to extend our congratulations to the couple in the video.  I personally hope they continue the whole jiu-jitsu theme for all of their wedding proceedings (Oh my God, the wedding officiant needs to be a ref!)

And, I for one, think these crazy kids are gonna make it.  Don't they say, "the couple who trains jiu-jitsu together... have absolutely no problem kicking the living crap out of anyone who dares give them a problem?"

Either way, on behalf of us at Verbal Tap, best of luck to you guys and we sincerely wish you all the best!