Favourites Win but some Upsets too
Day 2 of ADCC in China drew roughly the same crowd as yesterday and like the day before, the action was just as exciting. I’d probably call it a crowd of 1000 on each day and most of it lay persons from the look of it. Given that most of the population has never heard of BJJ before, that’s pretty decent I suppose. In comparison though, an MMA event the same evening, “Real Fight MMA Championship” (which both Satoshi brothers fought in incidentally) drew a crowd 3-4 times as large, consisting mainly of a lay audience drawn by the spectacle it seems – it was almost entirely chinese fighters vs koreans/japanese/east europeans etc. Nonetheless, the semis and finals did not disappoint and there were plenty of talking points.
Women’s over 60kg – Domination
Not much to say, Gabi Garcia got another dominating win.
Women’s under 60kg – Nicolini needs new opponents
Michelle Nicolini had a really slick backtake off a pass by Seiko Yamamoto in the semis and followed that up by a brutal leg lock sequence on Luana Alzuguir. First off 50/50 she had the Achilles, which Luana stood up on, which then became a heel hook, which was gator rolled (and seemed to pop something there), and out of the roll into a toe hold , which led to the tap. Nicolini was impressive this whole tournament and has some aspects to her game that make for interesting studies.
66kg – Redemption for Cobrinha
The first semi between Rafa Mende and Joao Miyao was a highly technical match decided by a sole takedown by Mendes in the first overtime. This match would probably interest the BJJ geeks as Mendes showed a the way to stop the inversion/berimbolo attempts of Miyao. It’s probably worth dissecting at a later stage, but in a nutshell Mendes pressuring in and posturing up (and not retreating like so many do), killed many of the “innocent” inversions that the Miyaos typically do that develop into the more serious berims/drags. A stark contrast to the Rader/Miyao 3rd/4th match where Rader allowed many of Miyao’s probing inversions to graduate to the berim/drag by retreating/sitting back. Raders own semi with Cobrinha was pretty entertaining as well, Rader getting stuck in a calf slicer and having to give up his back but eventually losing on points being unable to pass Cobrinha’s guard. The 3rd/4th match betwen Rader and Joao was a bit curious though, with Rader getting 2 advantages and winning despite multiple berims and backtakes by Miyao. Congratulations to him on his first medal at ADCC though. The finals between Cobrinha and Mendes was another epic encounter going into both overtimes and was almost spent entirely on the feet. Rafa again was very strong, going for all manner of takedowns but Cobrinha just being too slick. Despite Rafa doing most of the shooting during the match, Cobrinha managed to get 2 good take downs himself and got some good scrambles off them. Rafa really started to look tired/despondent in the last overtime, though he never gave up fighting (it was tied after all with no points each) to his credit. Rafa’s conditioning/mental strength has always been a strong point and for him get edged out in the physical/scramble department twice now (Tanquino at the 2013 Worlds and now this) must be quite disappointing. Cobrinha really had a good strategy this time, not getting into extended guard battles with Rafa, where he was frustrated by 50/50 and bear traps in their last ADCC final.
76Kg – Kron makes a statement
The first semi between Kron and JT was intense with Kron getting the tap in regulation time. Otavio v Leo Vieira was a points battle but Leo Vieira again showed his wrestling prowess vs a more physical opponent. Eventually Leo had to concede a takedown/scramble to his back standing but he looked good taking all that pressure. He was unfortunately unable to get a takedown himself and get his passing going but it was quite a good display from the older generation showing that they can still give the new generation like AJ Agazam and Otavio Sousa grief. His match vs AJ Agazam the day before was pretty good to me, where he spun out of most of AJ’s attempted single finishes. Kron vs Otavio was pretty boring to be honest, Otavio was hand fighting and pummeling for the duration of it with Kron being more active, mixing up ippon seoi nage and kouchi attacks. Finally Otavio tried to get a single (2 serious tries total I think) and got lightning quick guillotined for it. Kron really has the killer instinct, that was his only window and he sealed the deal. A rematch between him and Lo somewhere down the line (he’s the only person to tap Lo in the gi in recent history) needs to happen. Kron has the rare ability to counter attack the pressuring/advancing passer, which is what he did to Shinya/Otavio here/Lo in their last encounter, because he doesn’t mind giving up the sweep/takedown if it doesn’t work.
87kg – Romulo’s experience brought the victory
I missed most of the Lovato v Popovitch semi so I can’t say much on that. But Lovato did surprise managing to get past one of the most experienced ADCC competitors (and multiple medalists) out there (by one advantage). Keenan vs Barral was another intense match. Keenan did really well I think, forcing the action for the most part. Romulo showed his experience by not hastily trying to prove a point and pass Keenan’s guard, choosing to stay out of it for the most part. This forced Keenan to try engage more on the feet where Romulo had the physical edge. I’m still not sure why Romulo ended up getting an advantage in the overtime period, he didn’t try pass nor did he almost take Keenan down (who did all the shooting). I thought it was a penalty for passivity at first but given Keenan was being the main aggressor the whole time it didn’t seem logical. That was quite a disappointment frankly as it did appear that Keenan would have won a decision clearly if things stayed the same into the second overtime. Keenan did well for his first outing though in almost every match he had in ADCC (even those he won), he got consistently snapped down into a front headlock (which really shouldn’t happen given he is taller than most of his opponents), sometimes when he wasn’t even shooting. His takedowns have improved a lot but perhaps his defensive wrestling is another aspect we can look to see him work on. The final between Lovato and Romulo was again more hand fighting with Lovato (like Keenan) doing all the shooting. Romulo again sprawled on every one and capitalized with the final one leading to the backtake. Romulo’s defensive wrestling majorly helped him win the title and it will be interesting to see how his match with Lo at the World Expo goes.
under 99Kg – Asis pulls the upset
I was hoping for a Lister/Asis final and we got it. Both men won their semis by nasty heel hooks but unfortunately the final didn’t end up being the heel hooking war I had hoped. Instead we had some good old fashioned guard passing and defending. Lister started out strong almost getting armbar but once Asis got out it seemed to go downhill from there for Lister. Lister steadily got broken down from the repeated heavy passing pressure Asis was bringing thereafter and simply looked gassed towards the end when Asis punched the underhook in to pass as Lister sat up from guard slowly. Good match overall, one of the better ones of the tournament.
Over 99kg + Absolute – Tale of two Buchechas
Buchecha’s finals match with Cyborg showcased 2 of the 3 things Buchecha does well – 1) a decent double 2) flexibility. These 2 were on display on a match otherwise full of hand fighting and pummeling on the feet. Buchecha’s ability to shoot from distance to hit 2 takedowns gave him the edge to take the weight title. The re-match for the absolute final was totally different kettle of fish though, and Cyborg showed us all why he is worthy of that name. Cyborg had a really tough road to the finals in his own weight class – having to face the likes of Orlando Sanchez and Jared Dopp, who brought heavy passing pressure for the whole distance. In the absolutes Cyborg also had to deal with the non-stop scrambling of Gary Tonon (a stand out in this ADCC) and Keenan’s guard. Buchecha on the other hand had a relatively easier path, finishing quite a few fights and not having any overtimes (I think). It was thus surprising to see another Buchecha show up for the absolute finals a shadow of his usual self. He tried no shots and his flexibility provided no trickery against Cyborg, an inversion master himself. Cyborg looked fresh in comparison and his active shooting from distance was what gave him the edge in a dominant and well deserved victory. With Buchecha gassed, the one last thing Buchecha does well, turtling and inverting into a heavy half guard passer to sweep/leg lock, didn’t work well at all against Cyborg (who knows this trick well) resulting in several passes being conceded. Being unable to shoot effectively and constantly smashed, Buchecha looked almost dejected towards the end. I expected Cyborg’s guard to cause Buchecha problems but it was superior conditioning and mental strength (to take on the guy you just lost to) that brought Cyborg the top prize today. The super fight against Galvao should be interesting and Buchecha probably has to go back to the drawing board for a bit.
Keenan’s bronze in the absolute was again another solid showing for a first outing. His fight with Lister was another showcase of Keenan’s goto moves and their match was definitely one of the highlights of the tournament. His semis loss to Cyborg is probably the first time you’ll see his guard conclusively passed in recent history. I guess it takes an inverter to pass an inverter, just like it takes a berim-er in Mendes to neutralize a Miyao. It remains to be seen how Keenan fares against other elite black belts but this ADCC was a very encouraging sign. I think that the constant snap downs he was getting into (less common in a gi) are something we won’t be seeing again soon given how quick he closes his gaps.
Superfight – Mario Sperry v Fabio Gurgel
I guess old man strength is real. Sperry man handled Gurgel and it was a dominating performance. Sperry grounded out Gurgel with unrelenting passing pressure and Gurgel simply had no answer. Gurgel did stay in it till the end however to his credit and seeing legends compete is always a treat. It was a master class in good old fashioned passing pressure.
Best matches of the day:- Cyborg v Tonon
– Rafa Mendes v Cobrinha
– Keenan v Lister
– Cyborg v Buchecha (absolute)
Anyways, it has been a fun 2 days with plenty of amazing BJJ. Will look at some video later and see if anything might be interesting.