Despite some last minute drop out and substitutions, there was plenty of drama in the Absolute divisions, and the round robin format with ADCC style rules ensured everyone got plenty of time on the mat.
Thanks to Andrew "Goatfury" Smith of www.BJJnews.com for the written report
(Editor's note Once again, going back to the vault and finally getting around to uploading some more video, this time from February's NE Grappling Challenge III event, held by Joseph Cunliffe and Ryan Ciotoli. This was an excellent day of grappling which saw tons of great competition across the board, especially in the Absolute Divison. Once again thanks to Andrew "GoatFury" Smith from www.BJJnews.com for the great and timely report as usual.
In addition to having my luggage lost on both ways from the airport and assorted mishaps, it looks like one of the tapes I shot was fried (actually a first). The inlcuded video showcases much of the action from the day, but I am unsure on some names, so if you see yourself or someone you know in the video, please let me know and I'll be sure to give you the credit!)
Northeast Grappling Challenge- Popovich and Monson win The Northeast Grappling Challenge in Ithaca, New York featured two eight-man pro divisions (under 175 and 175 and above). Pablo Popovich and Jeff Monson represented American Top Team, closing out their respective divisions, while talented up-and-comers Rick Macauley, Glover Texeira, and old-school MMA veteran Edson Carvalho squared off.
Each pro division featured two round-robin divisions, with the winners of each bracket meeting in the finals. The matches were divided into two five-minute rounds, with the first round being submission-only (no scoring) and the last five minutes the points would count (similar to ADCC scoring).
Lightweight Division (under 175)
The lightweight division saw heavy favorite Pablo Popovich (ADCC veteran, overall grappling stud) on one side of the bracket with me (Andrew Smith) and Len Sonia (Tai Kai).
Popovich and Len Sonia faced off first.
After some stalking, Popovich took Sonia down and passed to half-guard.
It became apparent that Popovich was waiting for the scoring period to begin. As time ran out and the fighters restarted, Popovich aggressively took Sonia down, passing guard, and eventually getting the mount.
Sonia held his own very well, escaping, and even nearly getting Popovich's back as time ran out. Popovich, however, dominated on points.
Next up I had the opportunity to roll with Pablo. Once again, the first five minutes were tentative, with Popovich pulling guard, and me working for a "goathook" unsuccessfully. About 4 minutes in Popovich got a sweep, and we spent the rest of the time in my open guard.
As the second round began, Pablo immediately took me down with a smooth double-leg, ending up in half-guard.
About three minutes in, Pablo executed his trademark kimura from half-guard, stepping over the head for the finish. Very technical and efficient.
Len Sonia could not continue due to injury (and intimidation due to my big hair or something) so I got a match against a collegiate wrestler with the last name of Urban.
Urban took me down, worked to pass, and I caught him with a kneebar from half-guard.
Popovich went on to dominate in the finals, taking his opponent down, passing guard, and finishing once again with a picture-perfect Kimura:
Heavyweight Pro Division
While the lightweight pros featured some up-and-comers, the heavyweight division featured established big names in the grappling community. Jeff Monson, Edson Carvalho, Rick Macauley, Jay White, Glover Texeira and Nick Caggia were among the big names.
Rick Macauley (Balance) got a rematch against heavy favorite Jeff Monson (ATT). The two fought earlier this year at the Bud World Cup and both fighters went all out, with Monson getting the points win. This match was very similar in outcome, as Monson was able to pass guard to secure the points victory.
Next up, Macauley faced grappling and MMA veteran Glover Texeira. Macauley worked from his half-guard, transitioning into a tight reverse heel-hook.
Jeff Monson and Glover Texeira had a war next, with Monson pulling half-guard unexpectedly (Pablo Popovich yelled at him for doing this) then pulling off a nice sweep, before Texeira almost got Monson's back.
When the second scoring period began, it was all Monson, as he was able to get the half-guard sweep and the pass to secure the points win.
Rick Macauley made quick work of his last opponent.
Macauley looking for the armbar
So Monson advanced to the finals, having beaten his three opponents.
Meanwhile, Edson Carvalho took Nick Caggia's back, getting the rear naked choke on the big man, then caught Jay White with a front choke. Carvalho advanced to fight Monson in the finals.
This fight showcased Monson's strategy, as he was able to take Carvalho down and methodically pass the guard in the scoring round. Both fighters looked sharp, but Monson's experience prevailed. Monson had a dominant back position as time ran out and was looking for the finish.