Yesterday (Sunday) there were two very inspirational and landmark events that took place. The first was Felix Baumgartner's amazing freefall skydive from 39 kilometres up in the sky. I watched it live on the internet and gasped as Felix took that step forward and just, kinda, dropped down towards the barely visible terra firma far below. An amazing physical achievement and I cheered as Felix landed so effortlessly on both feet.
Speaking of physical achievements, last night's other landmark event was the inaugural Metamoris Pro BJJ Invitational - a tournament to showcase the best of the best current BJJ fighters in a 20 minute, no points, submission only contest. The line-up was a dream come true for us grappling fans. The fights were high in drama, at times displayed jaw dropping technique, with a few surprises along the way and even a little humour too.
Caio Terra managed to pull out a superb display of patient attacking jiu jitsu to overcome Jeff Glover's defence first tactics. Glover seemed to goad Caio with his 'come and get me' attitude. Caio looked frustrated at points but never let up. Once he freed Glover's arm the armbar was a done deal. Well done Caio!
Rafael Lovato Junior was imperious against Kayron Gracie. The former's superior size, strength and conditioning paid off with a brilliant key lock/kimura.
Next up was a battle royale between Kron Gracie and Otavio Souza. My money was on Otavio (the current World Champion) and for the majority of the match, Otavio pretty much had Kron in control with his double sleeve grips. But after 10,12,14 minutes, Otavio was visibly tiring and Kron finally secured a submission with a majestic display of technique and timing. wow! The result here vindicated the idea of a longer no points rule set.
On paper, the next match, Andre Galvao versus Ryron Gracie, seemed like an odd match-up. Andre being the current 'most awesome fighter today' title holder and Ryron being, that really nice guy who smiles a lot from Gracie University. By his own admission, Ryron is simply not interested in competing. Some people might suggest this would indicate a lack of fighting ability and pretty much assumed Galvao would win. Those critics were to be proved wrong as Ryron displayed a textbook performance of defence, evasion and re-positioning that is the hallmark of the Helio and Rorion Gracie philosophy of jiu jitsu. It ended a draw. Ryron had proved what he wanted to prove. Galvao seemed to hint at sour grapes in his post match speech. Regardless, it was a very interesting fight and I think it helped raise the esteem of Ryron in many people's eyes. It certainly did mine.
After ADCC in Nottingham last year, my estimation of Dean Lister is sky high. Honestly, I felt before the match if anyone out there could submit XandeRibeiro at nogi, it would be Dean. But props to Xande, he showed what a master tactician and technician he is. At around the 3/4 mark Xande got Dean's arm free and cranked on what seemed like a match-winning armbar. Dean blinked, impassive, moved and then escaped to a roar from the crowd. What the hell damnation unbreakable alloy is Dean made of? It was an extraordinary moment as the whole audience and thousands of viewers online gasped and yelled HOLY MOLY! A draw seemed the right result, both were amazing.
And so on to the top of the bill. Roger Gracie verses Marcus Almeida 'Buchecha'. Roger needs no introduction such is his stature and unmatchable dominance in the game over the past ten years. Buchecha is the current world champion and the new kid on the block. This match promised fireworks. And it did not disappoint. Although it ended a draw, it seemed as if Buchecha 'won' by simply showing us that Roger was human after all. The armbar he caught Roger with, and in which by some miracle or sheer force of will Roger escaped from, was wonderfully executed. As were the several sweeps he executed on Roger. It was really weird to watch - Roger simply does not get moved around like that, ever. It wasn't all one way, there were moments of vintage Roger - pass, mount, try to choke...but it was not to be. Roger gassed early, a consequence of his short illness preventing him from training a few days prior to the event. No excuses though, Buchecha was the man on fire.
After the fight, Buchecha was humble and utterly in awe of having fought one of his BJJ heroes. Roger was similarly respectful, suggesting he was not done yet as a BJJ gi fighter, but acknowledged the rise of a new potential superstar. A great fight.
The whole event was a wonderful and exciting showcase of jiu jitsu grappling. The standard was so incredibly high and the format so well devised that I can forgive the biased commentary from Rener Gracie and the relentless plugging for Gracie University. I already cannot wait for Metamoris II next year.
[Photo credit: Budo Dave's Instagram feed]