The Best of 2004 OntheMat Awards!
(In no particular order)
The Best of 2004 OntheMat Style Awards!
(In no particular order)
We're continuing to recognize the best of 2004!
The Double Threat Award:
When contemplating the top Jiu Jitsu and Submission Grapplers of 2004, one name came up on both of the short lists: Marcelo Garcia. Marcelo took the momentum he had as the ADCC under 76 kilo champ and hit the ground running last year. First he won his superfight at the 3rd Defasio Black Belt Challenge by a score of 11-0. He wins his superfight at SJ da Barra Submission Wrestling 3. At Campos III Submission Grappling event, Garcia wins his weight class and the professional absolute division. He chokes out Pablo Popovitch at the SWO 1, and wins at the Arnold Gracie event. At the Brasileiro of BJJ he submitted 6 out of 8 opponents, including the much larger Eric Wanderlay and even larger Marcio Corletta. At the Mundials of BJJ Marcelo Garcia ruled the Medio Class again. Whew!
It seems pretty safe to classify Marcelo Garcia as a grappling machine personified. With the gi or without, it doesn't seem to matter to Marcelo as he is looking to take your back and choke you out no matter what! In 2005 look for him to defend both his Abu Dhabi and Mundial titles and he could very well be the top Jiu Jitsu and Submission Grappler of 2005!
The Triple Crown Award:
So what of the fighter who has successfully competed at a high level in all three disciplines? When Nick puts on a Gi, he fights like a Jiu Jitsu Fighter, when he takes it off, he fights like a submission grappler and when it's time to put the gloves on, he fights like an MMA fighter -he looks perfectly comfortable in any role. Nick Diaz certainly had an enviable 2004. In Jiu Jitsu, Nick competed with much success in the purple belt division, including winning the absolute division at the prestigious US Open in Santa Cruz. In Submission Grappling, Nick again was very active and pulled off what many consider to be an upset win at the Half Moon Bay Tournament by submitting Macaco very quickly with a kneebar (and avenging a controversial loss years ago for teammate Dave Terrell). Finally, Nick went 1-1 in the UFC, and really established a name for himself with a knockout of Robbie Lawler that literally stunned the world. Nick Diaz is young and hungry and talented, a lethal combination, and it's really nice to see someone who has hit the level of UFC still competing in local tournaments and still eager to expand his grappling arsenal.
Female of the Year Submission Grappling:
Leonor "Nori" Cocco (Avellan)
In a very short time in the sport, Nori established herself as the most dominant force in female grappling in a streak where she terrorized both coasts and all comers beginning in 2003. In March 2004, she won what may have been the most stacked 8 woman grappling event ever at Grappler's Quest West 5. Nori is a lethal combination of good balance on her feet, control and submissions. At this point it is not known if she will continue to compete at all, which would be a shame. Still, in her brief career, Nori must certainly be recognized as one of the female submission grapplers of all time.
Female of the Year Jiu Jitsu:
For women, the greatest amount of international talent in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gathers at the Pan Americans of Jiu Jitsu, which sees the top competitors from Asia, Europe, Brazil and of course the US gather together to fight. Owing to a smaller (but rapidly growing) pool of grapplers, the Confederation places the women purple/brown/black competitors together in the competition. As a purple belt, Jen Locke had a standout performance at the Pan Americans, submitting two of her three opponents. This is a culmination of a career with a stellar win loss record and an even more impressive submission percentage. Although initially not even noticed for her performance (her name was listed incorrectly in the final results for months), the world is definitely taking notice of her now.
Instructor of the Year Award:
Easiest way to describe Marc Laimon is to say that the man loves Jiu Jitsu as much as anyone in the world, and he loves it for it's own sake. His enthusiasm for the sport is contagious and has made him one of the most sought after coaches in the world, as well as made his academy Cobra Kai (yes, it was a joke at first) quickly among the top in the country. His academy is exactly what is advertised: A place for people to train hard, learn lots and leave their egos at the door. And that team environment he has fostered at his academy; what his entire academy did to prepare him for his much anticipated match against Ryron Gracie at Grappler's Quest West absolutely went above and beyond the call of duty (no, I'm not going to say what it was, but trust me, it was huge). Marc often travel with his team, and is hard to miss on the sidelines, often shouting in code to his students that have other observers shaking their heads.
Marc Laimon has also assumed the mantle of Instructor for the World by wasy of his involvement with the UFC via the On the Mat segments (nice title) in which he demystifies for the average grappler the science of jiu jitsu, and will play a significant role as the Jiu Jitsu Instructor for the upcoming UFC reality show. Great hope for all of us looking up to a self described white kid from Wisconsin who just loves jiu jitsu.
Submission of the Year Award:
Cameron Earle over Eric Koble Chicken Wing from guard over (North American Abu Dhabi Trials)
We here at OntheMat obviously see a lot of submissions (Buy our video NOW! 101 Submissions Chapter 2 http://onthemat.com/xcart/customer/product.php?productid=184 )
So it's honestly not too often we see something that surprises us, but that's what Cameron managed to do at the ADCC Trials in Vancouver. Facing Koble, an Iowa wrestler on four NCAA National Championship teams, Cameron immediately pulled guard. He then proceeded to control Koble's left arm with his left foot, threatening to set up the triangle choke, but at the last second decided to switch to a sort of chicken wing should lock. Saying that he made the move up on the fly, Cameron pulled back and Koble had no choice but to tap out very early in the match. It was a surprising simple yet brutally effective move that we have never seen before, thus garnering Cameron with the honor of Submission of the Year
(Video can be viewed here as part of the highlight footage from the North American Trials: http://onthemat.com/video.php?videoid=770 )
Fighter We'd Least Like to Meet in a Dark Alley Award
There's simply something about Fedor's "little" brother that simply scare the bejeezus out of us. Maybe it's that tattoo of death holding a child on his entire back. Or maybe it's the way he comes into the ring looking like he's five minutes out of bed. This provided for one of the more amusing highlights of the year when James Thompson came out attempting to win a stare down with the meanest mad dog possible, and Aleksander simply yawned. That yawn didn't look like it was part of any psychological warfare on Aleksander's part, he looked genuinely bored out there. One has to wonder exactly what it would take to get Aleksander agitated, and then how to get the hell out of the way if he ever does.
Best Referee Award Pat "Hawk" Hardy
Hawk calls them like he sees them, goes straight down the middle and doesn't take guff from anyone. This why we love Hawk. He got to referee in some of the most high profile matches this year.
Hell refereeing is the toughest (but most necessary) position in this sport, so to everyone who has taken the time to referee THANK YOU!!!
The Giant Killer Award-
Jeff "the PipeLayer" Glover
A little known fact about Jeff Glover: he actually walks around at about 98 pounds, he has to put on a special suit to get into the 139 pound category. Seriously, the guy who looks like everyone`s bratty kid brother had a tremendous 2004, proving that dynamite comes in small packages and despite often being the smallest competitor in the field, took home no less than three Absolute Category Championships this year, including the IGJJF, Grappler`s Quest / Copa Atlantica and Abu Dhabi. Jeff Glover puts on some of the most exciting matches around as he twists, turns, finds the path of least resistance and almost always manages to pull something spectacular off. WTW!
Best Looking Guy in Pink Shorts Award
Useless -because he was IM'ing me at the time I was finishing this up. Happy now? Happy? Happy?
See everyone in 2005!
Scotty and Gumby