In the last couple years, BJJ competition has taken a turn towards a different direction. In addition to having the tournaments we are all so used to, where anyone can compete and test themselves, more “pro” events have been popping up for pure spectating reasons. The most notable of the recent efforts have been created by Copa Podio and Metamoris. Although these two events are different in format, the goal is fundamentally the same – organize entertaining jiu-jitsu matches that people want to see, but also in a way that is a sustainable long term business so more events can be organized in the future.
Five Grappling Super League has now stepped up to bring its perspective on how these events should be organized and presented. For those of who don’t know, Five Grappling is one of the top tournament circuits in North America, held throughout the year in major cities. They have placed a strong focus on helping North American BJJ athletes showcase their skills against other locals but also against top international BJJ athletes. On August 2nd, they will hold their first pay-per-view event which will include super fights and an eight-person tournament for both men and women – two separate categories. This will be the first time that an organization is making an effort to showcase women’s BJJ on this level.
The men’s mini tournament is stacked with some talent that you don’t usually see in the spotlight. Five Grappling has created a great opportunity for rising stars to showcase their skill. The eight men participating are Tim Spriggs, Bruno Bastos, Yuri Simoes, Hector Lombard, James Puopolo, Joao Assis, Abraham Marte, and Lucas Rocha. These are all notable athletes, so the question is: who has the best chance of taking home the $10,000 prize money? When taking into consideration all the aspects of age, accomplishments, physical ability, and technique, the overall advantage must go to Yuri Simoes.
Simoes is one of the youngest of the bunch. In no-gi he is the most accomplished, with Joao Assis as a close second. Both these guys are world no-gi champions. Assis has won the ADCC championship and Yuri won the absolute division at the Worlds. However, if we nitpick and look at the details, Yuri is younger and has been more active lately than Assis, which should give him the advantage. But it won’t be an easy win at all with athletic specimens like Marte and Spriggs in the mix.
The 8-woman tournament also has a great mix of ladies including Fabiana Borges, Tammi Musumeci, Nyjah Easton, Karen Antunes, Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner, Luiza Monteiro, Mackenzie Dern, and Leanna Dittrich. Most of these names may sound foreign to most of you since the female BJJ scene does not receive nearly as much attention as the men’s, something Five is looking to change.
Mackenzie Dern is the name that stands out most from this bunch and that’s for good reason, since she won the absolute World Pro title earlier this year, surviving a match against Gabi Garcia. She has, by far, the best chance of winning the $10,000 prize. Luiza Monteiro, another world champion, has the dark horse chance of winning as well. Expect these two to make it to the finals, assuming they are on opposite sides of the bracket.
The event will also feature two superfights between some household names; Otavio Sousa versus Keenan Cornelius and Joao Miyao versus Gary Tonon. Not only are these guys some of the top competitors in the world, but you get the whole “America versus the world” vibe from these matches – which is part of Five’s goal, to showcase American talent. Expect the favorites to win, Cornelius and Miyao.