Michelle Nicolini vs Angelica Galvao
Photo by Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine


Summary
Last weekend saw the inaugural staging of the Polaris Professional Jiu-Jitsu Invitational, or just Polaris Pro, at Cardiff St David’s Hall in Wales. It featured eight grappling matches between 16 high level competitors and was available to view via a pay-per-view livestream or as a spectator at the event itself. Each match brought its own drama and exciting action with four matches ending in a submission. The live stream functioned admirably and the event itself proceeded smoothly.




Introduction
Polaris Pro is the brainchild of UK fightwear brands Tatami Fightwear and Scramble, alongside Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine. For three home-grown UK BJJ companies to host a major grappling event in the UK it is a pretty big deal and illustrates the growth of the sport in this country. It’s not the first professional jiu jitsu invitation-only event in the UK (2011 ADCC in Nottingham and the 2007 10K Ground Challenge among others that precede it) but it certainly ranks among the more ambitious, with several World Champion and highly regarded athletes pitting their skills against one another in a 15 minutes submission only (ie no points) battle

I was invited to attend on a media press pass but sadly I had family commitments. I did however manage to watch the ppv live and take part in an online discussion board. This is how each match played out:

The Matches:
Darragh O'Connaill vs Max Campos - always nervy to be the first pair to fight at the very first show. It ended a draw but after a cautious start, the Irishman Darragh ramped up the pace towards the end against a tiring Campos.

Kit Dale v Victor Silverio - despite a foot injury and some tonsilitis for Kit, both Kit and Victor put in a lively performance. It ended a draw. I liked how Kit attempted some bold judo throwing techniques and Victor applied some great pressure and explosive attacks.

Michelle Nicolini vs Angelica Galvao - Nicolini was red hot favourite here and indeed proved her credentials early on with some dominant positions. But Galvao I think won a lot of admirers with her patient composure, a slickly timed reversal out of bottom mount and at one point almost passing Nicolini's guard into side control. The submission came from nowhere as Nicolini executed a killer toe hold to force the tap from Galvao.

Pablo Popovitch vs Eduardo Rios - this was a very enjoyable fight. Popavich was favourite to win given his pedigree but Rios showed he was an escapology expert as he continued to defy the submission attempted of the bigger man. Draw.

Mike Fowler vs Eduardo Telles - a slower paced, tight and technical match, Fowler did well to almost sweep Telles from inside half guard and avoid his trademark turtle guard bait. Draw.



AJ Agazarm vs Oli Geddes - AJ seemingly had a match winning armbar within the first minute but by some miracle Oli escaped and worked his way to his favoured half guard position. AJ was too fast and too wary and quickly dominated to attack the arm again. In the end, he caught Oli with a weirdly angled triangle choke as Oli looked to escape the armbar. An emphatic win for AJ slightly marred by some arguably unsporting showmanship throughout (playing with his mouthguard mid match, going for a high five but shooting for a takedown instead of waiting for a reply, and finally a completely over the top celebration of lifting Oli up and spinning him around. The crowd booed and viewers sat at home wondering what the hell was going on.

Garry Tonon vs Marcin Held - this was the submission hunting festival of delight that it promised to be. Blink and you miss all the action such was the frenetic pace. Tonon won via an inverted heel hook but it was back and forth for much of the short but exciting three minutes duration.

Keenan Cornelius vs Dean Lister - this was a fitting finale to what had been a tremendous live event. Lister was aggressive for much of the early portion of the fight but Keenan was simply too clever. At one point Lister lifted Keenan's single leg high and tossed him backwards only for Keenan to roll effortlessly to guard. Cornelius won after 9 minutes with an exquisitely locked reverse triangle choke. 



Livestream quality and production
The ppv ticket cost £15GBP and after payment, an automatic email generates a password to enter at the homepage. The livestream was uninterrupted for me. I read that some people experienced difficulty as reported on the discussion board, but apart from a few times where the quality of the feed dipped, I got uninterrupted live footage throughout.

The venue of Cardiff St David's Hall proved to be an excellent choice, with its massive stage, allowing the grapplers a huge amount of room to play around. The lighting was good and so too were the camera angles. I know some people online didn't like the zoomed in close-ups of certain positions and grips, and inevitably those close ups will always be at the expense of action on the unseen side, but I liked it.

The three commentators, Josh Palmer (who commentates on Cage Warriors), Nicolas Gregoriades and Nick Osipczak did a superb job dispensing knowledgeable technical commentary.


Suggestions for improvement
The onscreen timer should be made a bit smaller and tucked away in the corner of the visible screen. It was too big and too central for my liking. 

The complete absence of any instant or near-instant replays was frustrating. I guess I'm too spoiled by UFC on TV replaying key moments within seconds of the fight ending but I feel it is absolutely essential for the next instalment of Polaris Pro. 

Some people have suggested that some form of 'extra time' or other system be put in place to ensure there is one designated winner of each bout. I'm less sure there is any one single solution to the no-win problem of submission only, time-limit contests. 

I wasn't so keen on the wideangle camera placed at the far back of the stage. It just didn't add anything to the viewing experience.




Post event feedback
You can read more feedback on the fights and the show in general at these websites: Bloody Elbow, Reddit, Sherdog 

One disappointing observation was the rampant illegal posting of footage onto Youtube. The pay per view is available for 7 days after the event so it was not as if the footage was not accessible. I guess it is an inevitable part of digital media these days, there will always be a free way to source content. The right and proper way of course is to pay for it. That way, Polaris II can happen and we can all get more of our dream jiu jitsu match-ups.





Conclusions
Polaris Pro was the most talked about jiu jitsu event all weekend...and long into the following week. Discussion boards were ablaze at the news of Keenan submitting Lister in such deadly fashion. Those who were lucky enough to attend the live event hit the social media with their thoughts and it was somewhat frustrating for me to have to see all the newsfeeds when I was stuck at home :(

For a debut event, the organisers sure ticked a lot of the boxes and delivered an amazing show. Well done Polaris Pro, grappling fans the world over look forward to the second show later this year!


[All photos from Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine]
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had a slight problem logging in during the beginning match. It may have been my computer, but I had to restart my browser and login. After that I had no problems.

I agree with you on every other sentiment. I hope we continue to get Polaris events as I felt it was great despite minor issues (camera angles and lack of replay), but more competition is always better.

Lee Day said...

I agree 100%. I would add that I hope more events like this will have women's matches, as Nicolini v. Galvao was among the best of the competition.

eeski said...

I had no problems at all but a slight bit of buffering at one point but it wasn't bad and I didn't miss any of the fight.I was happy with all the fights thought they was entertaining . I don't think it needs to have a winner for each fight. The only problem for me is cost £15 to view for 7 days I think is to much money and for to short a time. So I wouldn't get all the events (hoping there doing more)