Budweiser World Championships
Charlotte, North Carolina
Budweiser World Championships
Charlotte, North Carolina
There are many reasons why I like the Budweiser World Championships but it starts on the mat, where there is a certain down home, Southern charm to the action that goes on. It’s a high level competition, to be sure, but folks just seem to enjoy each other that much more here.
We should also talk about the fact that promoters Joe Hurst and Chad Webb have done a stellar, absolutely unparalleled job in securing corporate sponsorships and attracting media attention for Jiu Jitsu, both of which have major ramifications for the future of our sport (this is after all the “Budweiser” World Championships). On Friday afternoon after saying our hellos was I whisked away to a radio station 106.5 “The End” where as Joe, Chad, myself, plus special guests Jeff Monson (top American Submission Grappler) and Rafael Lovato Jr. (top American BJJ competitor) talked about the upcoming tournament and the sport for the afternoon commuters. For me it was pretty cool, as it was first visit inside of a commercial radio studio.
The fun didn’t end there however, as later that night we attended a Charlotte Checkers game (ECHL minor league hockey) played in front of 10,000 fans at the Bobcats (NBA) team arena. Special end of period entertainment featured Jeff Monson once again. It involved getting him on the ice and racing against two NASCAR drivers in these little inflatable bumper boat, and when I saw little I mean that Jeff was practically larger than the boat. As the word go was uttered Jeff promptly did a 360 and smacked into the boards, and found himself unable to move until the officials gave him a bush. From there Jeff fared much better, and although he seemed to come in last place, he was quick to point out that he was the only one who actually followed the course.
However fun as all the promotional activities were, the real reason we had come to Charlotte was for a Jiu Jitsu tournament, and the next day we were all pumped for the action. As always, Saturday was the Gi competition and Sunday was the no-gi and professional divisions.
There were a number of standout brown belt matches. Don Cheadle vs Ken Primola was the first high level match of the day and Ken appeared to have Don quickly locked up in an armbar for which referee Noah Booth called for what he perceived to be a tap. Don argued that he was still fighting to get out of the position and after some discussion the match resumed. Ken proceeded to go after several more armbars through the course of the match, some apparently deeper than the first, but to his credit Don managed to get out of each one.
Later on Don Cheadle would have a match with Andrew “Goatfury” Smith which is was fairly competitive, for Andrew competing most of the time with his eyes closed. Andrew insisted that he was merely trying to be relaxed and calm as opposed to asleep. Ken Primola also had a few more matches, including an absolute match against Chris Moriarty, ADCC North American Champion and arguably the best American brown belt currently competing (as well as OTM’s Submission Grappler of the Year. Ken showed his true toughness here, as giving up a considerable amount of weight actually managed to make this a competitive affair that went the distance and Chris got the nod on points.
The purple belt divisions had some standout competitors as well, most emphasized in the lightweight division with a finale of Justin Rader vs Chace Wheaton (remember these names). Justin is a protégé of Rafael Lovato Jr and has excellent wrestling skills, where as Chace is a teammate of Chris Moriarty (and a student of Jacare at Alliance in Atlanta) and has some excellent judo takedowns. These are two competitors to watch out for in the future for certain. The match went back and forth and featured near takedowns, reversals and exchanges for the entire duration, but with thirty seconds to go and the score tied at 2-2 Chace was on top and secured a kimura. Rader’s arm began to make a loud popping sound and the referee called the match to Rader’s protests, but this was in my mind the right call to make.
The second day turnout was a little larger as it was No Gi day and featured the professional tournament. There were three weight categories in the professional divisions, light (to 160 pounds), middle (200 and under) and heavy.
Local product Fernando Salvador took on Kevin Albertini in the first match up of the pros. Fernando pulled turtle position quickly, and as Kevin went to take the back, Fernando rolled into a slick kneebar for the tap. Raphael Assuncao then finished Courtney Oakes rather quickly with a Brabo choke.
Fernando Salvado against Chace Wheaton was next. Chase pulls guard, Fernando goes straight for the ankle lock, ends up in closed guard. After a couple minutes neutralizing each other, ref Noah Booth restarts them from the feet. This time Fernando pulls butterfly guard, pulls to turtle again. Chase takes his back, gets his four points. Fernando escapes to closed guard after about a minute with Chase on his back. Chase goes for a triangle and Fernando defends. Chase gets 2 for a sweep and the match ends with Chace 6-0.
On the other side of the bracket was Raphael Assuncao vs Justin Rader. Raphael pulls half-guard, and Rader goes right for the knee-cut-across pass; back to the feet. Raphael goes for a leglock and Rader rips his leg out; back to the feet. Good exchanges, but still 0-0. Rader shoots in for a low-single and dumps Assuncao on his butt for 2. Assuncao goes for a sweep, comes up with a leg. Rader defends. Assuncao pulls half-guard, goes for the leglock again, and as Rader rips out, Assuncao chases, forcing both guys out of bounds. Dumps Rader on his back on the concrete out of bounds. Back to the center. Rader defends the takedown but is issued a warning for stalling. Time expires with Rader on top, Assuncao on the bottom working for sweeps.
This set up the finale between Justin Rader and Chace Assuncao, with their respective corners of Rafael Lovato Jr and Chris Moriarty and $1000 on the line, and also redemption on the mind of Rader. Chase jumps to closed guard. Rader gets the guard open, and Chase goes for a low single off a sweep attempt. Great action as Rader is looking to set up a Twister or take the back. Chase defends and they get back to their feet. Chase jumps to an arm-in guillotine, but Rader pops out. Rader forces the turtle... still no points. 2 minutes left. Chase recovers closed guard. Great scramble- both guys almost scoring, but nothing. Rader shoots at time expires.... 2 minute ovetime coming up. Chase jumps guard, but not closed... Rader forces the turtle again. Chase works to reverse. Back to the feet. Rader shoots- gets the takedown!
Chase goes for the omoplata, but Rader defends.
Justin Rader wins 2-0 in overtime and gets his revenge, however I believe we will be seeing much more of this match up in the future.
There were only two competitors in the Heavy division, one being Jeff Monson, who came into considerable hype and celebrity status. Aside from being a title contender for the UFC Heavyweight title, Jeff is arguably the best Heavyweight submission grappler in the world. Ethan Garrison was game however, and looked to make his own name on this day. The guys tie up. Monson looks focused. Monson shoots in and gets the takedown for 2. Monson eventually works a pass, almost getting to side control, but Garrison is able to try for a sweep. Monson goes back to half-guard, eventually passing for 3 points. Garrison turtles, and Monson looks to take his back, ending up on his back. Garrison gets 2 for this. Monson sweeps him back right away from half-guard. Monson almost has Garrison's back again. Monson gets the face crank for the tap.
The middleweight division may have been the most competitive division of all, and featured two of America’s finest on a nearly predestined collision course with each other.
The first match featured the young Ian McPherson from Alliance against local hero Dave “Caveman” Jackson from Hurst Academy. Ian pulls guard. Caveman kneebar/heel hook attempt. Ian pulls, Caveman almost has the back stack pass, Ian recovers, scramble... Ian on top in side control briefly, 3 points for the pass(?). Caveman shoots, takedown into Ian's guard. Result is Ian McPherson wins, 3-2. “Caveman” was definitely disappointed in the loss and his performance, vowing to compete more, however it should be said that Ian is an extremely tough and skilled competitor who you will likely be hearing more from.
Next came Rafael Lovato Jr, against Lee Synowski. Lovato pulls butterfly guard, takes the back with an armdrag. Lee defends the RNC attempt. Lovato still on the back. Lee escapes, ends up in Lovato's closed guard. Lovato catches his reverse triangle. Synowski hangs tough, time expires and Lovato advances on the score of 4-0.
Chris Moriarty takes on Roger Carroll for the third or fourth time in their careers. Tentative start. Both guys clinch on the feet, pummeling. Moriarty goes for foot sweep to ankle-pick combos, Carroll defends. Moriarty jumps guard. Sweeps immediately to mount. Sets up the mounted triangle. Carroll rolls, Moriarty finishes.
In the semi finals, Rafael Lovato Jr. took on Ian McPherson. Ian shoots in immediately, and Lovato sprawls, caching a guillotine.
Ian defends, but Lovato sweeps, switching to the "brabo" choke. Ian
survives, recovering his guard. Lovato works to pass, forcing Ian to
turtle. Eventually Lovato does a "Leozinho" flipover, hitting the rear
naked choke on the way back- a very technical and beautiful transition.
The next semi final featured Chris Moriarty vs John Kakavitas. John was especially game for stepping up, having run around quite a bit behind the scenes all weekend, including entertaining the OTM crew the night before. John jumps to closed guard, and Moriarty opens it on the feet. John rolls through for a kneebar, and Moriarty steps over to defend, pinning the leg, and ending up in half guard. Moriarty sets up a quick brabo choke for the submission.
This set up the finale everyone expected with Rafael Lovato Jr. and Chris Moriarty. There was obviously a lot of respect on and off the mat between the two competitors. In their first head to head match up Lovato defeated Moriarty in the finals of the Grappler’s Quest US Nationals, however Moriarty would emerge the best in a field of 16 which included Lovato to be the North American ADCC qualifier. The majority of the match was the two jockeying for position on their feet. Nothing happened until the final minute when Lovato Jr. pulled guard to try to make something happen, but Moriarty defended and the regulation period ended.
The overtime began with the same action, in which both Rafael and Chris continually pummeled and looked for position. After about a minute Lovato hits a clean footsweep and Moriarty step back to counter and lands very badly on his foot. Moriarty screams out in pain and the match halts.
Moriarty unfortunately breaks his leg and will be out of action for a little while. Potentially a disaster when he has ADCC coming up in May, but we’re confident he be back and represent America proudly. Rafael Lovato was visibly upset as well, there is no way he wanted to win a match like this, especially over a competitor like Chris. The ending put a somber mood on an otherwise great tournament and a fun weekend, as we quietly went out to enjoy some of Charlotte’s famous hospitality and to discuss the action of the previous days.
The next event that promoters will hold under their banner of Global Grappling will be on SouthEast Grappling Classic on July 28th. Check out more information at www.GlobalGrappling.com and see more results over at www.BudWorldCup.com website.