This weekend in Turku, Finland, the European Trials, organized by Marko Leisten, saw more than 100 of Europe’s best grapplers vying for the ultimate goal in submission grappling, a place at the World Championships and the chance to compete with the standout players from Brazil and America.
The road to the ADCC World Championships in Trenton, New Jersey this May is almost complete, with only the Japanese Trials remaining. This weekend in Turku, Finland, the European Trials, organized by Marko Leisten, saw more than 100 of Europe’s best grapplers vying for the ultimate goal in submission grappling, a place at the World Championships and the chance to compete with the standout players from Brazil and America.
Grapplers were able to secure places at the European Trials by winning regional tournaments in Finland, Switzerland, the UK, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Spain, Germany and Greece. The number 1 ranked Shooto Europe fighter and the previous Trials Winner received automatic places and the remaining spots were filled by invitation.
In a break from other trials, these matches were fought over a time of 8 minutes, with up to two 4 minute overtimes permitted in the event of a draw before the judges would be called in. The finals of each bracket were 16 minutes long.
ADCC Committee members including the main man, Guy Neivens and BodogFight Matchmaker Miguel Itturate were in attendance to witness more than 80 top class grappling matches and an array of sharp submissions. The women’s brackets were particularly impressive in terms of the skill displayed and a high proportion of subs. The standard of refereeing and judging was in general very high, the organization and information on bracketing, match order and competitors notification was well done and good sportsmanship was displayed by all competitors and spectators.
However, this should be tempered by one concern, the rules as they stand still do not do quite enough to stamp out the takedown and stall game-plans of some players, with a quarter of the matches on the day were won solely on takedown points. If Submission grappling is to realize its dream of becoming an Olympic sport, of key importance will be making it as visually appealing as possible o spectators.
As some had predicted, the Finnish hegemony of the lightweight men’s category was finally broken by the French, but it was to be Nicolas Renier, not the more experienced Manu Fernandez who took the honours, defeating both the 2005 Trials champ Toni Kröger and the 2003 trials champ Teemu Launis. Fernandez, who recently ran ‘Megaton’ Dias close at the European BJJ Championships, had started brightly against the unorthodox Spanish grappler Ezekiel Zayas, whose style reminded one of Tetsu Suzuki or Masakazu Imanari, but fell prey to Launis.
Daniel Ackerman vs Tomas Barlow: Ackerman wins by Heel Hook.
Emmanuel Fernandez vs Ezekiel Zayas: Fernandez wins by RNC
Toni Kröger vs Zjezdzalka Jaroslaw: Kröger wins 3pts to 0
Musse Hasselwal vs Jarkko Keränen: Hasselwal wins by submission
Fran Alcalde vs David Lejenäs: Alcalde wins 2pts to 0
Julian Nguyen vs Mike Cüppers: Nguyen wins 4pts to 0
Teemu Launis vs Michael Hockenjos: Launis wins 2pts to 0
Nicolas Renier vs Hélio Perdigao: Renier wins by RNC
Teemu Launis vs Emmanuel Fernandez: Launis wins 2pts to 0
Nicolas Renier vs Julian Nguyen: Renier wins 2pts to 0
Daniel Ackerman vs Fran Alcalde: Alcalde wins by Points
Toni Kröger vs Musse Hasselwal: Kröger wins by RNC
Toni Kröger vs Nicolas Renier: Renier wins 1pt to 0
Teemu Launis vs Fran Alcalde: Launis wins 2pts to 0
Teemu Launis vs Nicolas Renier: Renier wins 7-0
The furthest traveled grappler was in this bracket. Los Angeles based but British born Jamie Walsh, a JJ Machado Black Belt, shaking off his jet lag to quickly win his first match by RNC. This bracket also saw a number of wrestlers plying their trade, with Mariusz Szczerek dominating the previous trials winner and European BJJ Brown Belt champ Martin Linqvist with his base and takedowns. The powerfully built Finnish grappler Ville Manninen also used his takedown and control to beat the French Black Belt David Pierre Louis, the aforementioned Jamie Walsh and Norwegian player Nikolaisen all by a margin of 2 points to 0. Vexing some spectators with his unwillingness to engage on the ground, Manninen was to meet his match in the shape of BTT Black Belt Eduardo ‘Teta’ Rios, who subbed the Finn by an armbar to claim his spot in New Jersey.
Eduardo Rios vs Christian Sandberg: Rios wins by Guillotine
Mariusz Szczerek vs Martin Linqvist: Szczerek wins 4pts to 0
Toni Beckman vs Christopher Harmanstad: Beckman wins 2pts to 0
Bobby Sundell vs Chaabi Said: Sundell wins by points
Saffiedine Tarec vs Jani Lax: Tarec wins by Judges’ decision
Jamie Walsh vs Matias Awad: Walsh wins by RNC
Ville Manninen vs David Pierre Louis: Manninen wins by 2pts to 0
Nik Ruben Nikolaisen vs Frodi Vitalis Hansen: Nikolaisen wins by RNC
Eduardo Rios vs Mariusz Szczerek: Rios wins 2pts to 1
Toni Beckman vs Bobby Sundell: Beckman wins 5pts to 0
Jamie Walsh vs Ville Manninen: Manninen wins 2pts to 0
Saffiedine Tarec vs Nik Ruben Nikolaisen: Nikolaisen wins by RNC
Eduardo Rios vs Toni Beckman: Rios wins by Submission
Ville Manninen vs Nik Ruben Nikolaisen: Manninen wins 2pts to 0
Eduardo Rios vs Ville Manninen: Rios wins by Armbar
As expected the indomitable Finn Marko Helen won his category for the second time, but with some very close matches. Constantly looking for the submission, Helen submitted Danish fighter Thomas La Cour with a Guillotine, shortly after La Cour had escaped a very tight choke attempt and took gold against Swede Martin Janson with his Anaconda Choke. Hopefully he will be given a more favourable first round draw than Demian Maia at the forthcoming World Championships in order to display his skills on the big stage.
Thomas La Cour vs Marko Helen: Helen wins by Guillotine
Jude Samuel vs Khalidow Mamed: Mamed wins by 2pts to 0
Tor Troeng vs Nelson Semedo: Troeng wins 10pts to 0
Martin Janson vs Ilari Grönholm: Janson wins by Triangle
Morris Cilfoni vs Andreas Smith: Cilfoni wins by Walkover
Thomas Karlson vs Johnny Larson: Karlson wins by RNC
Makdoumi Karim vs Nic Osei: Karim wins by Points
Daniel Dowda vs Pedro Rodrigues: Dowda wins 3pts to 0
Marko Helen vs Tor Troeng: Marko Helen wins by 2pts to 0
Martin Janson vs Makdoumi Karim: Janson wins 2pts to 0
Daniel Dowda vs Thomas Karlson: Daniel Dowda wins.
Morris Cilfoni vs Khalidow Mamed: Cilfoni wins by 2pts to 0
Marko Helen vs Daniel Dowda: Helen wins 2pts to 0
Martin Janson vs Morris Cilfoni: Janson wins by Triangle
Marko Helen vs Martin Janson: Helen wins by Anaconda Choke.
Former Trials Champion, the Pride fighter Alistair Overeem elected not to compete in this year’s trials to concentrate on MMA. In his absence, this category saw a powerful display of wrestling and submission from the Polish contingent, with Radek Turek, Michael Materla and Tomas Szczerek taking 3 of the 4 semi final places. In the final, Radek Turek arm barred his compatriot Tomas Szczerek
Michael Materla vs Samuli Perälä: Materla wins by RNC
Radek Turek vs Ilir Latiffi: Turek wins 2pts to 0
Tomas Szczerek vs David Haagsma: Szczerek receives a bye
Arben Latiffi vs Einar Naes: Latiffi wins by Wristlock
Gouram Hakim vs Grabowski Damian: Hakim wins 3pts to 2
Ösgur Sel vs Samuli Perälä: Sel wins 3pts to 0
Joachim Christensen vs Juha Tuhkasaari: Tuhkasaari wins by Guillotine
Michael Grothe vs Toni Vivas: Grothe receives a bye
Michael Materla vs Ösgur Sel: Materla wins by Kimura
Radek Turek vs Gouram Hakim: Turek wins by Heel Hook
Tomas Szczerek vs Juha Tuhkasaari: Szczerek wins by 2pts to 0
Arben Latiffi vs Michael Grothe: Latiffi wins 3pts to 0
Radek Turek vs Michael Materla: Turek wins on pts
Tomas Szczerek vs Arben Latiffi: Szczerek wins 2pts to 0
Radek Turek vs Tomas Szczerek: Turek wins by Armbar
In the absence of previous trials winner Mustafa Al-Turk, this category was wide open. His opponent at the last event, Miodrag 'Pele' Petkovic, started brightly, choking his first 2 opponents, but it was Finnish grappler Janne Pietiläinen who rose to the occasion, beating his first 3 opponents by submission, setting up a final with the Polish grappler Karol Bedorf. The final was a very back and forth affair, but Janne managed to work himself into position and took a Heel Hook to for victory.
Miodrag 'Pele' Petkovic vs Zapatka: Petkovic wins by RNC
Rogent Lloret receives a bye
Janne Pietiläinen vs Ziegler Carsten: Pietiläinen wins by RNC
Karol Bedorf receives a bye
Ivajlo Markov vs Toni Valtonen: Valtonen wins 7pts to 0
Gunnar Johansson vs Martin Wojcik: Wojcik wins 4pts to 0
Tommy Rasmusen receives a bye
Marko Patteri receives a bye
Miodrag 'Pele' Petkovic vs Tommy Rasmusen: Petkovic wins by RNC
Rogent Lloret vs Toni Valtonen: Lloret wins 3pts to 0
Janne Pietiläinen vs Marko Patteri: Pietiläinen wins
Karol Bedorf vs Martin Wojcik: Bedorf wins by RNC
Janne Pietiläinen vs Rogent Lloret: Pietiläinen wins by submission
Karol Bedorf vs Miodrag 'Pele' Petkovic: Bedorf wins 3pts to 0
Janne Pietiläinen vs Karol Bedorf: Pietiläinen wins by Figure 4 Toehold
-60kg Female category
The two ladies from the UK swept aside their opponents in this division, with Caoimhe McGill, a Mundials champion and purple belt under Carlos Gracie Jr and Rachel Wheatley, purple belt under the legendary Mauricio Gomes totally controlling their opening 2 bouts to set up a rematch of the final of the ADCC UK Qualifier. Wheatley caught Gdula Agnieszka in a triangle very early on in the bout, but the iron-necked Pole stunned the crowd by defending the tight submission attempt for close to 6 minutes before Wheatley finally got enough Leverage to tap her. A prompt heel hook taken after her opponent pulled guard too slowly saw Rachel through to the final. On the other side of the bracket, McGill played a very tight game to catch Weckström with an armbar and then controlled the match against Hamarstan, but despite being in mount for a large portion of the match, was unable to secure the kimura she was trying for.
In a very evenly matched fight, both ladies could have picked up the win, and with the match close to overtime, McGill managed to score a clean takedown to take the win and her place at the ADCC World Championships.
Caoimhe McGill vs Marina Weckström: McGill wins by Armbar
Rachel Wheatley vs Gdula Agnieszka: Wheatley wins by Triangle
Yasmin Tahira vs Anny Hamarstan: Hamarstan wins 3pts to 0
Dusi Bozkovic vs Sara Capoferri: Bozkovic wins by Guillotine
Caoimhe McGill vs Anny Hamarstan: McGill wins 3pts to 0
Rachel Wheatley vs Dusi Bozkovic: Wheatley wins by Heel Hook
Caoimhe McGill vs Rachel Wheatley: McGill wins 6-4
+60kg Female category
As predicted, the powerful MMA fighter from Holland’s famous Golden Glory gym, Marloes Coenen dominated her first 2 opponents, both former Mundials champions, dispatching them by Armbar and Rear Naked Choke respectively. Her main rival, Monica Vanessa Silva, also made quick work of her match-ups, subbing former Mundials Champion Gjelsten very fast by Guillotine and then submitting Rudfeldt by RNC.
The final was a slightly slower paced affair, with both fighters playing a cautious game which saw them being warned for passivity on several occasions and Coenen winning by -2pts to -3pts.
Hopefully Marloes will have better fortune this time at the World Championships, unsure as to the slamming rules, she asked her corner for clarification and Bas Rutten (for it was he) told her she could slam her opponent who had her in closed guard, which let to her DQ.
Marloes Coenen vs Devi Ahuja: Coenen wins by Armbar
Jennifer Guiola vs Sandra Kunz, Guiola wins 8pts to 2
Monica Vanessa Silva vs Camilla Gjelsten: Silva wins by Guillotine
Ella Rudfeldt vs ?: Rudfeldt wins 6pts to 0
Ella Rudfeldt vs Monica Vanessa Silva: Silva wins by RNC
Marloes Coenen vs Jennifer Guiola: Coenen wins by RNC
Merloes Coenen vs Monica Vanessa Silva: Coenen wins -2 pts to -3 pts