I could write volumes more, but I`ve got a plane to catch in a few hours, and per usual, I haven`t finished packing.
What is my beverage of choice these days? Budweiser, of course, because it`s exciting to see a company like that sponsor our sport, which they are doing again on January 15-16 in Concord, North Carolina. What I like about this tournament is the promoters sincerely listened to a lot of the criticism from their first tournament (the Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and worked hard to improve all aspects for their second tournament, the Budweiser Cup. This third tournament is shaping up to be something quite large again, and once again, they`ve retained the sponsorship of some of the largest sponsors in this sport. Can you believe that the restaurant I was at last night actually ran out of Budweiser?
There is plenty to do this coming weekend. I`m flying out to Chicago for the IronHeart Crown (actually in Hammond, Indiana). While it has a stellar card, the reason I`m attending is to corner my good buddy Alex Khanbabian as he is set to take on local hero Miguel Torres. This is actually a rematch of sorts, as Alex defeated Miguel in the finals at the Pan Americans of BJJ earlier this year. Alex received his purple belt from Ralph Gracie pretty afterwards, and has been a mainstay at the Mountain View Academy as the boxing instructor, so you know he brings some serous skills to the table.
It`s also a chance for me to visit my good friend Misho Ceko, who moved out to Chicago after receiving his Black Belt from Ralph Gracie. Unfortunately my plans for a rematch from our many battles at the academy is going to have to be put on hold after my ankle injury which I`ve talked about in the past, and his incredibly nasty staph infection (a variation resistant to penicillin) he had a few weeks ago which nearly caused him to lose his leg! He`s on the road to recovery folks, but let this be a lesson about cleanliness!
Scotty is in Hawaii (lucky bastard) for the Rumble on the Rock card (LUCKY BASTARD!!). This just may be the most packed line up ever in North America and features not one but two Gracies on the card! BJ Penn is set to take on Rodrigo Gracie in what I`m sure is going to be the toughest test of both men`s career. The weight is set for 185 pounds and I`m loathe to predict a winner here because I think both fighters have strengths and weaknesses that contrast well with their opponent. Expect something spectacular from these two.
Rumble on the Rock has partnered with K-1, so you can expect to see plenty of stellar cards and worldwide exposure for Rumble on the Rock in the future!
Unfortunately, with both Scotty and myself out of California this weekend, we`re going to miss what promises to be a big weekend in Half Moon Bay at the California Open. Joao Pierni has put together a large regular tournament claiming over 300 pre registrations in addition to a stellar line up of super fights, including the black belt debut of my good buddy Luke Stewart. Luke was one of those guys when he first came to the academy you knew was going to be something special. Competition wise he`s had good days and bad days but you knew he was always improving. Time to step up to the big leagues Luke! We`re confident you`ll be right at home.
The Grappler`s Quest in Las Vegas was probably the most insane event I`ve ever been a part of. Nearly 1000 competitors and Advanced divisions loaded with Professionals. I could devote a lot of writings about the events that took place this weekend (and people have), but there are two things that have hardly been touched on that I`d like to address.
First, is the emergence of Jamal Patterson on the stage as THE force in the under 99 kilos division lately. Entering Las Vegas he had carried a six fight win streak with him dating back to the Grappler`s Quest US Nationals and culminating in the Abu Dhabi Trials championship in which he submitted all SIX of his opponents. Jamal is always quick to downplay his abilities but his hard work, jiu jitsu skills honed under Renzo Gracie, wrestling, and finally (not firstly) his raw physical strength has made him a nightmare to deal with for his opponents. No mat space is large enough to contain Jamal, and he is more than capable of providing an exciting match against anyone.
Secondly, the importance of wrestling ability is really beginning to be more and more obvious with each event. (I really should devote a longer column to this). From Randy Couture`s dominating performances in the UFC, to Darrel Gholar`s work with many of the top athlete in Brazil, the ability to dictate the pace on the feet, good clinch work and the ability to decide when and how the fight will take to the mat has been apparent in MMA for a long time. But after watching a lot of the matches at the GQ I`ve come to the (slow albeit) realization that wrestling is equally important for submission grappling and it`s the competitors who are able to combine or take on these abilities coupled with jiu jitsu that are going to have the greatest measure of success in this sport for the same reasons why the above are successful in MMA. In addition, many of the holds in wrestling are being adapted and accepted as submissions with new modifications and entries from the jiu jitsu world. (The Twister is a heavily modified Wrestling Guillotine made famous by Eddie Bravo for example).
I could write volumes more, but I`ve got a plane to catch in a few hours, and per usual, I haven`t finished packing. Until next time: