-Khuen Khru Brian Yamasaki
When I heard that Royler Gracie vs Eddie Bravo 2 would be this years ADCC superfight I was excited. When I heard it was taking place within travelling distance from my home I was on the Internet reserving my tickets. I wasn’t even bothered that there were other contests taking place.
However, rumours quickly began to swirl around the World Wide Web that the Superfight wouldn’t be taking place at all. To say I was devastated about the contest being cancelled would be a huge understatement.
I did intially have thoughts of selling my tickets but quickly realised how crazy that would be as I had the chance to watch the finest grapplers in the world competing against each other. As I entered the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, the first person I saw was Andre Galvao. I get a photo and wish him luck and make my way to my seat. Meeting a grappling superstar on the way in set the tone for the rest of my weekend.
Three large matted sections took up the floor in the middle of the Arena and there were three simultaneous matches taking place at once throughout most of the day. The first day featured the qualifiers to determine the semi finalists in each weight division and the second day had the Semi-Finals, Finals and the Absolute tournament. Each day held a Superfight, on day one it was the previous Absolute winner Braulio Estima vs Jacare and on day two it was a battle of grappling legends Mario ‘The Zen Machine’ Sperry vs Renzo Gracie.
Many things stood out over the course of the weekend. The main thing that stood out was the outstanding conditioning of all the competitors. When you see the physiques of fighters such as Andre Galvao, Pablo Popovich, Kron Gracie and Rousimar Palhares you can see they have been hitting the weights room hard but what was outstanding is that these guys were fighting up to 25 minute contests against the best athletes their sport has to offer multiple times throughout the two days. I don’t recall any of them looking out of breath or fatigued. These guys obviously work as hard on their fitness as they do on their technique. It wasn’t only these particular fighters, virtually every competitor looked to have an elite level of fitness.
Another thing that stood out was the technique of the Grapplers. Some of the movements and transitions made were really phenomenal. As a fan of the ground game it was beautiful to watch at times. I marvelled at Marcelo Garcia and many of the female competitors as they demonstrated their ability in recurring instances of small triumphing over big in true BJJ fashion.
One instance that stood out in the Absolute was Victor Estima defeating Jaoa Asis. Victor had lost a very quick and disappointing loss to Marcelo Garcia the previous day to drop out of his weight class but he showed great heart and skill to return the following day to beat Asis who had lost to Dean Lister in a closely fought contest in the finals of the weight class above Victors own natural class. It was a great moment.
The Audience was clearly educated in the Grappling arts as it was similar to what you see in Japanese MMA where the crowd can be so silent you can hear a pin drop but if someone is close to a submission everyone was on their feet clapping and shouting encouragement or advice to the fighters. It was a great atmosphere and the fighters themselves were very approachable and accommodating.
I have some minor criticisms of the ADCC’s but only because I was greedy for more. There was no big screen to show slow motion replays. I understand that this is not essential but it would have been nice. This is because at times there were three grappling contests happening at the same time, sometimes I was watching one match and missed the submission on a different mat. At one point we had to choose between watching Marcelo Garcia vs Kron Gracie on one mat and Andre Galvao vs Pablo Popovich on another. There were more than a few times I was torn between which match to watch.
The scoring I felt didn’t always reflect the true nature of the bouts, for instance, in the Kron Gracie – Marcelo Garcia match up Marcelo took Kron down and received two points but Kron had caught Garcia in a Guillotine choke that looked very tight and Garcia looked to be in trouble before he eventually managed to escape. Most matches won on points were decided by someone taking the back and getting their hooks in or takedowns.
Some highlights of the action included Kyra Gracie winning her division with a victory over Michelle Niccolino submitting her with an omoplata.
Jeff Glover defeating Robson Moura with an arm in Guillotine in a classic match. Vinny Magalhaes used a full Rubber guard to setup an omoplata, unfortunatley he couldn’t get the finish but it was cool to see the set up being used in such a high level competition.
In another notable match, Rousimar Palhares and David Avellan rolled off the mat with Palhares catching Avellan in a leg lock but the referee called for a break. Avellan protested over something and was clearly angry yet Palhares seemed perplexed. When the match was restarted on the mat Palhares yanked on his leglock as Avellan tried to escape but Avellan tapped as his knee was popped out of place. Avellan was given medical attention and ended up leaving in a wheelchair. I hope he makes a speedy recovery.
The main highlight for me though was Vinny Magalhaes vs Fabricio Werdum for the heavyweight final. Magalhaes had a two point lead with minutes to go when Werdum caught Vinny in a straight armbar. The former heavyweight winner had the hold on and it looked locked in. It seemed like a tap was imminent but it didn’t happen. Vinny held on, Werdum crossed the arm over his hip and pressed it down, he rotated it and applied pressure, he leaned further back, he tried everything to get the tap. The audience were all on their feet shouting, some even pleading with Vinny to tap. It seemed to carry on for ages then suddenly somehow Vinny was out. The spectators erupted with amazement and joy. Vinny managed to ride out the time and won the heavyweight division. He showed real heart and determination to survive.
All in all my trip to the ADCC’s was incredible. I had such an amazing time and I would highly recommend it to any fight fans. Watching these athletes live, in action gave me a real motivational boost and inspired me to become a much better Grappler.
– Robert Carlin 2011 ADCC Nottingham England