Intriguing Rivalry in the Making
With so many BJJ stars/potential stars leaving the circuit in the last 2 years and the signals that many more elites are planning to enter MMA, finding rivalries to generate fan interest in BJJ is seriously in jeopardy. This is a complex problem to be solved at the organisational level and there are no easy solutions (Change the game rules? Get more investment/partners? Re-vamp the governing body?) but hopefully the ones in charge are taking notice of this disturbing trend and are taking aggressive steps to stop the talent bleed. No one was blaming the wrestlers when the sport was kicked out of the Olympics and it was clear where the blame squarely lay. Years of indulgent assumption of the status quo ultimately does no one any good. Rodolfo and Buchecha look likely to make a departure from the BJJ circuit soon and it’s hard to see where their potential successors will come from.
Lo has had several rivalries in the past vs Lepri, Langhi, Claudio Calasans and Otavio Sousa but these encounters have all overwhelmingly been decided in his favor. Not exactly the cliff hanger type stuff to keep viewers hungry for more. The only peer to have beaten him consistently (gi and no gi) is Gilbert Burns but Burns has successfully made the transition to MMA and that chapter is more or less closed now (they meet 22 Nov at Copa Podio btw).
Nonetheless, there is a potential rivalry brewing between Lo and Keenan, so for now there is at least a small glimmer of hope. As you know from my studies, I consider Lo one of the best passers and Keenan one of the most creative guard players in the sport. Their last two matches at the 2014 Worlds and the NY Pro have provided fascinating insight into both their styles and also their ability to improvise around stumbling blocks. The fact that both players are gunning to win a major absolute title means their paths are likely to cross in the coming years regularly.
The video says the rest but a hall mark of what makes someone “good” at BJJ is not just the moves he/she does, but also how they can switch tactics if something isn’t working. One of the main problems with Lo’s past rivals is that they never changed their approach to Lo’s guard or passing in repeated encounters – Lepri kept trying X-Guard in all their encounters, Langhi relied only on spider guard, Calasans kept insisting on 50/50 etc. At the NY Pro, Lo surprised me by breaking his tendencies to active post/avoid crossfacing and did the opposite (crossface) to ultimately find a way back to his “A Game” passes – kneeslide/stepover. Keenan too showed great adaptability towards the end, abandoning the “basic” worm guard sweep to load when Lo was finding success stepping over and crossfacing him. Good stuff, and the book is still open as to how the tie breaker might go.
BJJ needs more rivalries like Lo and Keenan to highlight what a chess match BJJ can be. Enjoy the video and see what I see when I watch BJJ. Thanks for reading!
Watch my Active Posting Study Again
Refresh Your Worm Knowledge