I'd like to start off this week by congratulating my good friend Henry Akins on getting his black belt from Rickson Gracie
I'd like to start off this week by congratulating my good friend Henry Akins on getting his black belt from Rickson Gracie. Henry has been very generous over the years, opening up his home while we're in the LA area, as well as sharing his theories on jiu-jitsu and technique, which I have to say has improved my game greatly. Over the years I've shared plenty of adventures across the country with Henry and his brother Matt and I have to say, that if they awarded a black belt of the night the Akins brothers would be grandmasters already.
If you're in the LA area next week, you definitely want to check out my good friend Carlos "Sapao" Orayazune seminar. Dave Camarillo calls Sapao "among the most technical black belts I've ever trained with!" Sapao's game is amazing, and the subtle things he can show you about the guard have elevated my game to another level." Sapao is now holding his first seminar in Southern California, to show everyone what makes him a champion caliber grappler. This seminar will cover various aspects of both establishing and passing the guard, and believe me when I say you don't want to miss this one.
Date: March 6, 2004
Time: From 12-3
Price: $50 Pre Reg
$70 at the door
Location: Ralph Gracie Orange County
1150 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Placentia/Orange County, CA
Who should attend: Anyone wanting to improve their guard game!
Contact: Brad Jackson or call (714) 524-7880 or email Gumby@onthemat.com 
Another good friend, Dan Camarillo won his match in Gladiator Challenge this week by armlock in 39 seconds. They don't call him the Armhunter for nothing. Congratulations Dan! Even taller congratulations are in order for Dan's upcoming nuptials in Las Vegas next month. Having just found out about his upcoming wedding, I have to say that I'm in shock. Over the years I've shared plenty of adventures across the country with Dan and his brother Dave, and I have to say that if they awarded a black belt of the night the Camarillo brothers would be a blue belt with a possible stripe. Ha-ha! Seriously, Dan is one of my best friends and someone whom I've always thought of as the quintessential bachelor. It must be quite the lucky lady which is causing him to settle down and I wish the future Mr. And Mrs. Camarillo all of the happiness in the world.
This upcoming weekend I'll be heading down to one of our favorite tournaments, Seventh Annual Copa Pacifica, while Scotty heads down to Florida for the Submission Wrestling Open 1. Once again, feel free to say hi when you see us!
Speaking of the Submission Wrestling Open 1, here are my views and predictions on the event. This time I think I'll actually stop beating around the bush and give my actual pick for the match ups, along with my reasons why:
10 Minute SUPERFIGHTS :
(special weight 80 KG): Pablo Popovich (American TOP TEAM, Ft Lauderdale, FL) versus Marcelo Garcia (Gurghel JJ, Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Gumby's Pick: Marcelo Garcia
Marcelo Garcia is the current grappling golden boy, having come seemingly out of nowhere to dominate the Abu Dhabi championships with victories over the likes of Renzo Gracie and Shaolin. Garcia was a player in the BJJ Gi circuit however, (rumor has it that before Abu Dhabi he never trained without the gi, much less competed without one) with his share of both victories and defeats, but so far in submission wrestling he has looked unstoppable. He recently won by his division and the absolute at Submission Wrestling de Campos 3. Marcelo looks to use both a killer armdrag and his so called "X-guard" coupled with his amazing speed to take himself to victory. This the first leg of Marcelo's American tour, as he enters the Arnolds the next week and the GQ 8 man later in the month.
Pablo Popovich was also at last years Abu Dhabi, where he defeated reigning champion Marcio Feitosa in the first round before going down to the aforementioned Shaolin. Popovich is proportioned like a comic book character, I've literally never seen anyone as ripped as him. In addition to brawn, he's an extremely intelligent fighter, and this has shown time and time again in his application of technique on the mat where his simply outthinks before he out muscles his opponents.
Still, Garcia is entering this match with all of the momentum (and expectations) in the world. I'd consider Popovich one of maybe two Americans with a shot of dethroning Garcia (the other gets his shot at GQ), but until handed a loss Garcia has to be considered the favorite here. No doubt Popovich has been preparing for his opponent very carefully, but to win this match he's going to have to figure out how to stifle Garcia's weapons, which turns this into a match that neither is used to fighting. This in an early candidate for match up of the year, for sure.
Over 99 KG: Jeff Monson (American TOP TEAM, Ft Lauderdale, FL) versus Marcio 'Pe De Pano' Cruz (Gracie Barra, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Gumby's pick: Pe de Pano
Jeff "the Snowman" Monson has experienced a definite transformation in his grappling style, which is even more remarkable since his previous grappling style carried him to ADCC title. Where as his previous style was, how should I put it delicately, effective, what he's picked up from his trainers at American Top Team has given him a whole new range of tools to play with (and he's been garnering a lot of submissions lately in tournaments in the SouthEast area). As each match passes Monson looks more comfortable, much more dangerous and makes for a much more exciting match.
Still, will Monson's growing abilities in able him to take out the current over 99 KG and Mundial Absolute Champ Pe de Pano? If there's a more towering and imposing figure on the grappling scene than Pe de Pano, I'd sure like to see him. Anyone looking across the mat at him is in for a long day, long describing both the reach and legs of Pe de Pano. Pe de Pano possesses considerable skills to go along with his frame, and although he is known to favor the guard and the triangle choke he has shown a top game which is just as lethal.
This is a rematch, and last month Monson was able to avenge a previous loss to Xande Riberio. Can he make it two in a row? This should prove to be a lot more difficult than the last match up, considering that this time Monson is the one who is outsized. All of the new moves and training Monson has picked up will truly be tested once the monstrous legs of Pe De Pano have clamped unto the guard (and Pe do Pano will likely pull guard). Monson's best shot is preventing Pe de Pano from pulling guard, which is easier said than done. Or maybe Monson will want to show off his newer skills by pulling guard himself? Stranger things have happened. The pace and tone for this match is likely to be determined in the first few minutes of this match. This has the potential to be gruesome folks (and I'm not just talking about a repeat of Monson stripping naked!)
55-76.99 KG: Marcos Avellan (Freestyle Fighting Academy, Miami, FL) versus Otto Olson (AMC Pankration, Seattle, WA)
Gumby's pick: Otto Olson
Marcos Avellan runs the Florida Freestyle Fighting Academy and has had a very active year competing in submission grappling tournaments. Marcos is an outstanding wrestler with unorthodox passes, who will take a submission if the opportunity presents itself.
Otto Olson is the runner up at this years Abu Dhabi taking out the likes of Brazilian qualifier Daniel Moreas, Terere and Chris Brown before losing to Marcelo Garcia.
I'm picking Olson as the favorite based on his past performance (which was obviously awesome) as opposed to a careful analysis of his own traits. Avellan has some obvious skills and will be taking this match up very seriously, as a win here will prove he deserves mention among the elite grapplers of his weight class.
77-87.99 KG: Todd Margolis (Lloyd Irvin USA, Team Grapplers Quest, Camp Springs, Maryland) versus David Avellan (Freestyle Fighting Academy, Miami, FL)
Gumby's Pick David Avellan
Todd Margolis is one of the more entertaining personalities in the sport. He'll often strut into the mat, singing his own theme song which is likely to throw off his opponent, but he becomes deadly serious once it hits the mat. Margolis is an extremely capable wrestler, and he uses his ability to dictate how the fight will initially go on the ground.
David Avellan was among the busiest grapplers of 2003, and the list of his titles and accomplishments is not easily summarized here, but includes victories at GQ, NAGA and a runner up placement at the Ultimate Submission Showdown. Avellan is also an extremely capable wrestler and is very successful at dictating the pace of a match. He has some very unorthodox guard passes as well.
The problem with this match up is that Margolis probably walks around 185 and cuts down to compete at as low as 173. David Avellan is closer to 200 and cuts down to as low as 185. That means Margolis is likely to be giving up both size and strength in this match up. Furthermore, both have a similar style in that they will play a takedown game before working a variety of top passes and the like, both are very smart competitors who will use the rules in their favor. Both have decent bottom games, but are just as likely to use their skills to escape to their feet and initiate the takedown game. Who ever wins the initial takedown game will likely continue to do what they do best. My advice to whomever winds up on the bottom is work your sweeps and attacks and keep the match on the ground because the likelihood of evening up the match if it goes to the feet will be slim.
Under 65.99 KG: Marcos 'Parumpinha' Meira (American TOP TEAM, Ft Lauderdale, FL) versus Katsuhiro Hirata (Japan Qualifier Champion, Tokyo, Japan)
Gumby's Pick: Parumpinha
Parumpinha is a black belt is coming off a win last month versus 2003 Abu Dhabi competitor Alan Teo. Katsuhiro is the Japanese qualifier for Abu Dhabi (where he had to fight through a 16 man division), when he got to Brazil he was defeated in the first round by Soca. I've got to think that Parumpinha has more experience in submission grappling style match-ups where as the Japanese fighters tend to approach submission grappling from a mixed martial arts background primarily, but that's just an assumption I'm making here because I really have very little information on Katsuhiro. Still, the fact Parumpinha is a known (and dangerous quantity) coupled with the fact he is the hometown fighter have to make him the favorite here.
Over 99 KG: Wade Rome (American TOP TEAM, Ft Lauderdale, FL) versus Rob Constance (Team Renzo Gracie, NY)
Gumby's Pick: Wade Rome
Two big guys going at it in this match up. Wade possesses a wrestlers type mentality and a brown belt in BJJ. Rob Constance trains under Renzo Gracie and that's about all the information I have on him, other than he will be cornered by Igor Gracie for this match.
I have to say Wade is the favorite in this match based on hometown advantage and the fact that Constance stepped up to this match up with about a weeks notice.
Qucik picks for the FEATURE TOURNAMENTS :
8 Man ABSOLUTE Tournament - (INVITATIONAL)
UNDER 65.99 KG: (145 LBS)
-Nobou Yagai (Grapplers Edge, CO) versus Mike Mrikulic (Royler Gracie/Dave Adiv USA, Team GQ, Montclair, NJ)
-Mike Cardoso (FFA, Miami, FL) versus Renato Tavares (ATT, Ft Lauderdale, FL)
ALT: Raphael Assuncao (Jacare, Atlanta, GA) v. TBD
Gumby's Pick: Mike Mrkulic
66-76.9 KG: (169 LBS)
-Ricardo 'Teixeira' (FFA, Miami, FL) versus Raphael Diaz (ATT, Ft Lauderdale, FL)
-Eric Koble (Grapplers Edge, CO) versus Ryan Ellison (Jacare, Atlanta, GA)
ALT: Anthony Tolone (Orlando, FL) versus Chad Wagoner (Freelance, Kokomo, IN)
Gumby's Pick: Ricardo "Hellraiser" Teixeira
77-87.9 KG: (193.5 LBS)
-Ken Kronenberg (Tai Kai Machado USA, Team GQ, Syracuse, NY) versus Moacyr 'Boca' Oliveira (ATT, Miami, FL)
-Charles Mccarthy (FFA, Miami, FL) versus Beau Clark (Grapplers Edge, PA)
ALT: Chris Moriarty (Jacare, Atlanta, GA) v. TBD
Gumby's Pick Moacyr "Boca" Oliveira
Back at you next week with still more reviews and predictions!