Posts Tagged ‘The Open Mat’

Combat Sports Report: IBJJF European Open Preview, Wrestling, Kickboxing Results

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

The first major International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) tournament of 2011 is finally upon us, and it takes us to Lisbon, Portugal for the European Open Championships, beginning on Jan. 27. This year, the final tally of competitors registered has officially surpassed the Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships and is now the second biggest tournament in the world.

This year’s Europeans look more like a Mundial championship roster of the best black belts around. Here are my fighters to watch in each division and who I think could make a run at gold in the tournament’s biggest divisions:

Light-Featherweight (Pluma) 141 lb.

Bruno Malfacine (top) (photo courtesy of GracieMag)

Without a roosterweight division, the light-feather will be the lightest weight category at black belt in 2011. The division’s top black belt standout is roosterweight world champion Bruno Malfacine, but the newly promoted Atos black belt Ary Farias has dominated at all previous belt levels and is currently a two-time brown belt European champion. Look for this division to come down to those competitors, but don’t forget the dark horses in the division such as Laercio Fernandes, who is coming off a great win over Caio Terra at the American Nationals.

Featherweight (Pena) 154 lb.

One of the more interesting categories is the featherweight division, since now both Rafael and Guilherme Mendes will be fighting in the same division together. Also, the brothers will be sharing the same division with two other teammates, Bruno Frazzatto and Eduardo Ramos. Expect a possible gentleman’s agreement in the final, but never underestimate the rest of the competition, including No-Gi world champion Justin Rader and ADCC medalist Ryan Hall. They too can make a serious run at gold.

Lightweight (Leve) 167 lb.

Probably the deepest division in the entire tournament, there could easily be six or seven guys that are deserving to be at the top of the division. Last year’s co-champions Michael Langhi and Lucas Lepri will be looking for a repeat performance, but Gilbert Burns, Jonathan Torres and Augusto Mendes will be standing in their way.

Middleweight (Medio) 181 lb.

With the current Worlds silver medalist Claudio Calasans in the division, it is easy to see who the favorite will be. But that doesn’t mean Alan “Finfou” Nascimento, Marcos Souza, Ryan Beauregard or Victor Estima can’t spoil the Atos black belt’s fun and make a run at gold. Expect a category open to plenty of upsets and new faces to make a big impression at this European.

Medium-Heavyweight (Medio-Pesado) 194.5 lb.

This category contains tons of top talent including two world champions, Sergio Moraes and Braulio Estima. Look for the finale to most likely come down to the former middleweight in Moraes and former heavyweight in Estima to see who will be the champion. But don’t rule out the tough Rogel Monsalve as a strong third force in the weight class.

Heavyweight (Pesado) 207.5 lb.

As we get to the big boys of the competition, one of the best “big” black belts in the world is Bernardo Faria, who most recently claimed the status of world champion by beating two-time absolute champion Xande Riberio. In a division with the least amount of competitors, it’s a good expectation to see Faria reaching the final. Also, 2009 brown belt absolute champion Leo Nogueira is a heavy favorite to make a run. These two top heavyweight teammates look to be heading in the direction of closing out their division without a final.

Super-Heavyweight (Super Pesado) 221 lb.

Coming off his gold at the No-Gi Worlds, look for Rafael Lovato Jr. to walk into the building with the status as favorite for the super-heavyweight division. But there are plenty of candidates to make an upset in the division, including the veteran Bruno Bastos and Eduardo Almedia Ramos.

Ultra-Heavyweight (Pesadissmo) Above 221 lb.

In the division of the “big boys” the 2010 world champion, Rodrigo Cavaca of Checkmat, is the heavy favorite to come out victorious in his class. Without Gabriel Vella, Roberto “Cyborg” or Antonio Braga Neto signed up, this is Cavaca’s opportunity to make it gold in the Euro’s for the second straight year.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

If it seems that we are talking about Penn State every week in this column, it’s probably true.  The Nittany Lions really leave us no choice as every week they seem to be getting better and better. Now that is downright scary for the rest of the field because every week their young guns, Alton, Taylor and Ruth, become more and more confident and transfer Andrew Long becomes more and more comfortable.

Quentin Wright (photo courtesy of Penn State)

Oh did we mention All-America Quinten Wright is back from injury? Wright recorded a fall in his second match back against Indiana. Penn State continued to look like a perfect storm, winning 36-8 against another quality program. In a week full of upsets, the Nittany Lions wrestled stronger than ever. Scary.  Very scary. (in-depth coverage)

Well, apparently nobody told Lehigh that after being upset by Navy last week they were supposed to wilt under the bright red light that was No. 1 Cornell. The Big Red came into Bethlehem, Pa., a bit bruised up. Nobody could have expected how things would play out.

Steve Dutton of Lehigh mounted a furious comeback against Corey Manson. Then Kid Dynamite (Kyle Dake, Cornell) proved he doesn’t have the bang we are used to seeing.  Finally, the middle weights that failed to come through against Navy brought the home crowd to a frenzy point when Brandon Hatchette and Rob Hamlin knocked off top-three wrestlers in Justin Kerber and Steve Bosak. This is why the Lehigh-Cornell Rivalry is one of the best in the country. We can’t wait to see part two at EIWA’s. (in-depth coverage)

The strong season for east coast wrestling continued last Friday in Piscataway, N.J., as the Rutgers wrestling team continued to ascend to new heights when they beat a formidable Virginia Tech team, 24-7, in what was probably the biggest win in Rutgers wrestling history.

The Scarlet Knights have come a long way since what we dubbed a lackluster season opener at Brockport. They chose to start the match at 125 with Joey Langel against Jarrod Garnett. The match got the crowd into it right away as the two exchanged leads all match. In the end, Langel was able to pull off the upset. Although Virginia Tech won the next bout with a major decision by Devin Carter, the Hokies never really got into the hunt. From that point on the only bout they won was at 157 when Jesse Dong slipped past Darrell Coccozzo in the last few seconds.

It’s increasingly evident that the culture is changing on the East Coast as teams like Cornell, Lehigh, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and Maryland look to be contenders year in and year out. It was definitely exciting to have a match with that kind of feel in our backyard. It continues to prove that wrestling is a viable revenue source for universities and, if promoted properly, can be successful anywhere. (in-depth coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Penn State
2. Cornell
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. Missouri
6. Iowa
7. Rutgers
8. Oklahoma State
9. Boise State
10. Oklahoma

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Jan. 22 saw “The Contender Asia” participant Dzhabar Askerov knock out Riccardo Lecca in the first round of their bout at KnocKOut in Rome. Also on the card, Marco Pique claimed a decision over Bruno Franchi after an extension round.

In Japan, Hinata picked up a third-round knockout victory over South Korean fighter Woo Yong Choi at Rebels-EX.

Saiyok Pumpanmuang

Current Lumpinee Stadium 70kg (154 lb.) champion Saiyok Pumpanmuang will retire following his final bout on Jan. 25.

Feb. 5 will see kickboxing legend Andy Souwer face off against Abraham Roqueni under K-1 rules in the main event of El Desafio K-1 in Malaga, Spain.

The It’s Showtime card slated for March 6 is rumored to include Leroy Kaestner battling Ramzi Tamaditi, Fran Palenzuela against Dennis Schneidmiller, Manuel Hinojo fighting Hafid el Boustati, and Youness el Mhassani facing either Olver Tinda or current 77kg (169.4 lb) champion Artem Levin.

Mike Zambidis will compete in the main event of Iron Challenge from Athens, Greece on March 12. His “Kings of the Ring” super welterweight title will be on the line as he faces Ali Gunyar.

Rumors are swirling that Isuzu Thai Fight 2011 will now feature both 67kg (147.4 lb) and 70kg (154 lb) tournaments. The likely representative for Thailand in the 70kg tournament will be Buakaw Por. Pramuk.

Combat Sports Report: Abu Dhabi World Trials, Wrestling Upsets, Isuzu Thai Fight 2011

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

The first of many big competitions has taken place in 2011, and the tournament was the Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials installment in Lisbon, Portugal, where the champions were awarded with their pass to the main event in Abu Dhabi, this coming April.

The list of talent that will be in Abu Dhabi has grown deeper after this past weekend and is shaping the April event to be one to remember. In the under 65 kg (143.3 lb) division, the ultra-popular, battle-tested veteran Wellington “Megaton” Dias secured his place amongst the list of top competitors taking their talents to the Middle East with an impressive performance and another piece of hardware to show off to his fellow teammates and students.

Augusto Mendes (right) and Mackenzie Dern (photo courtesy of GracieMag)

If there was a debate to who was the big standout in this competition, it would most likely end with everyone agreeing that the standout was Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes. Recently coming off his double gold performance at the South American Open with two wins over former world champion Mario Reis, Mendes did not slow down. Tanquinho owned his under 74 kg (163.1 lb) division by getting the submission in his first two contests and winning the finals by an 18 to 0 score. So, it is safe to say that in Abu Dhabi he will be a formidable foe for anyone that steps opposite him on the mats.

In the under 83 kg (183 lb) division, Alan “Finfou” Nascimento was the main man and took gold, cleaning out his division while also being vice-champion on the absolute podium. With the big boys, Yan Cabral was the tournament’s under 92 kg (202.8 lb) champion, beating the eventual absolute champion Lucio “Lagarto” in the final. Lastly, in the over 92 kg weight class, Jose Junior took home the gold, cleaning out his bracket.

On the ladies side, Michelle Nicolini was triumphant in the under 63 kg (139 lb) division, beating a tough up-and-comer in Mackenzie Dern. Also, in the over 63 kg division Monica Silva was crowned champion and awarded the trip to Abu Dhabi.

Back to the United States, another popular and increasingly growing competition, the 6th Arizona Open, will be held on Feb. 26 and 27, which will include the super-match between two perennial black belt world champions in Jonathan “JT” Torres and Kron Gracie. So mark your calendar for those days and be ready for an awesome black belt matchup!

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Indiana redshirt freshman Ryan Leblanc may have a record of 7-6, but if you look a little deeper you will see four of those loses came to top twenty wrestlers Zack Toal (2-1), Kyle Blevins (3-1), Luvsandori Turtogtokh (6-3) and most recently Cody Yohn (2-0). This makes LeBlanc one of those diamond in the rough types you don’t want to face coming down the stretch run or come tournament time. He is also just one piece to the Hoosier line up that has gone 10-3 and seems to be a program with the cup half full. With wrestlers such as Kirk Kinser, Paul Young, Matt Powless and Rick Alcala all ranked nationally and guys like Matt Ortega and Leblanc wrestling well, the future look’s bright in Indiana. (in-depth coverage)

Earlier in the month we saw our share of upsets at the Virginia Duals and National Duals, the upsets have kept coming! Most recently, Navy knocked off perennial powerhouse Lehigh 19-15. Navy rattled off four wins in a row from 157 to 184. I don’t think Lehigh expected to drop matches at three of those weights with nationally-ranked Austin Meys and Rob Hamlin
dropping matches to Matt Demiceil and Luke Rebertus respectfully. The upset bug also hit California this week when Wyoming dropped a dual to Cal Poly 18-16. The Mustangs won in spite of Filip Novachkov dropping a 6-5 decision to Tyler Cox and having a fourth stringer in the line up because of injuries. We are now into the meat of the season and I expect plenty of fireworks between now and March. (in-depth coverage)

Mario Mason (photo courtesy of Rutgers)

After a sluggish start to the season, Rutgers Mario Mason solidified his name to be amongst the title contenders with a 3-1 OT win over Bucknell’s previously unbeaten Kevin LeValley. The match was controlled by Mason the entire time as he came close on several takedown attempts and flustered LeValley, who never really got his offense going. Mason, a former No. 1 recruit out of Blair Academy, N.J., has produced 13 wins in a row since losing to Columbia’s Steve Santos. Among his wins in that stretch are two top five ranked wrestlers in Frank Molinaro and LeValley. This Friday should be real interesting as No. 8 Brian Stevens heads into Jersey with Virginia Tech in what will not only be another big test for Mason, but might just be the biggest college match to date in N.J. As great as Iowa vs. Oklahoma State was, this season continues to be special because of the performances of teams like Wyoming, Cal Poly, Virginia Tech and Rutgers. Also with the emergence of Cornell and Penn State as National front runners, I am definitely enjoying this new era of parity. (in-depth coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. Missouri
6. Iowa
7. Oklahoma State
8. Illinois
9. Virginia Tech
10. Rutgers

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Despite a quiet week of action, the kickboxing world has a number of significant bouts in the coming month.

Sudsakorn Sor. Klinmee (hand rasied) (photo courtesy of It's Showtime)

The most notable fight of the last week took place in Bangkok, Thailand, at Isuzu Thai Fight 2011: Thailand Qualifier on Saturday, Jan. 15, as Sudsakorn Sor. Klinmee defeated Kem Sitsongpeenong by decision.

Fighting Jan. 22 is “The Contender Asia” participant Dzhabar Askerov. He will face Italian Riccardo Lecca in Rome at KnocKOut. Also on the card is Bruno Franchi taking on Marco Pique.

Back to back K-1 Max 70kg (154 lb) champion Giorgio Petrosyan will now face the aforementioned Thai standout Sudsakorn Sor. Klinmee at Thai Boxe Mania 2011 on Jan. 29. It was recently announced that Petrosyan’s original opponent, WBC MT middleweight champion Yohan Lidon, will not be returning to 70kg.

A 72kg (158.4 lb) tournament featuring Jeremy Marin, Sebastien Billard, Aydin Tuncay, and Karim Ghaiji has been added to the previously announced La Nuit des Titans VI event on Feb. 12.

Mix Fight Promotions head Sefer Goktepe recently stated that he is in talks with Dutch promotion It’s Showtime to bring an event to Germany in the middle of June. Rumored participants include Gago Drago, Tyrong Spong, and Mosab Amrani.

Combat Sports Report: NCAA Champion’s Return, Kickboxing Results and BJJ Preview

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

2009 NCAA Champion Darrion Caldwell (photo courtesy of STL Today)

After a 16-month lay off, 2009 NCAA Champion Darrion Caldwell has leaped back into the mix. Darrion made his season debut against Bloomsburg on Tuesday, earning a fall over Josh Roosa. It seems that rust isn’t an issue as he rattled off five pins in his first six matches of 2011. (in-depth coverage)

The Cliff Keen National duals certainly wasn’t business as usual, at least on the bottom half of the bracket. First, American University knocked off Oregon State 21-19 on the effort of a Ryan Flores pin of Clayton Jack at heavyweight. Then it was Virginia Tech’s turn to play Rocky when they surprised second seed Oklahoma State 18-16. Everything seemed to be going the Hokies way as they picked up clutch wins by Jarrod Garrett and Pete Yates and a huge win at heavyweight by Dave Marone to seal the deal. (in-depth coverage)

Cornell and Penn State tied at the Southern Scuffle. Both teams won championships this weekend – Cornell at National Duals and PSU at the Virginia Duals. Imagine the juice a National Dual Tournament would have received with these two facing off in a final. There is something to be said for head to head duals versus winning a national title in an individual format. (in-depth coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. Missouri
6. Iowa
7. Oklahoma State
8. Illinois
9. Virginia Tech
10. Rutgers

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

As expected, news in the kickboxing world is starting to pick up as the New Year moves forward. After a brief down period following the K-1 World Grand Prix, events from all corners of the globe are taking place or being announced.

Before reviewing the current happenings, let’s take a look at some a few important fights that took place in Japan over the final days of the year (and were left out last week!).

Sengoku’s Soul of Fight event took place on Dec. 30, and while the majority of the event was MMA bouts, there were a number of kickboxing contests as well. Most notably, recent S-Cup winner Buakaw Por. Pramuk defeated Hiroki Nakajima.

In the final news of 2010, K-1 parent company, FEG, held its annual Dynamite!! event featuring both MMA and kickboxing. Tetsuya Yamato and Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura fought to a majority draw (30-30, 30-29 Yamato, 30-30) and Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi bested K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8 participant Kyotaro. In a mixed rules bout, Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki made a mockery of the rules in the K-1 round, frequently clinching and launching drop kicks off the ropes. In the MMA round, K-1 veteran Yuichiro Nagashima needed only four seconds to knock out Aoki with a knee as he shot for takedown. In other action, K-1 heavyweight king Alistair Overeem KO’d UFC veteran Todd Duffee and K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner lost a decision to judoka Satoshi Ishii, both in MMA contests.

Moving on to 2011, it has been announced that the aforementioned Buakaw Por. Pramuk will be again competing on Feb. 12, as he faces Youssef Boughanem at La Nuit des Titans VI. The 2011 Shootboxing schedule has been finalized, with five events announced for Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Dates include Feb. 19, April 23, June 5, Sept. 10 and Nov. 11.

A key fight in the Muay Thai world has been revealed for April 9, as Saenchai Sor. Kingstar and Liam Harrison will meet for the second time for UK promotion Fight Sport Industries. As mentioned last week, Saenchai is the WMC World Muay Thai champion.

Dutch promotion It’s Showtime has announced that it has stripped 95 kg (209 lb) champion Tyrone Spong of his title. Spong has not defended the belt for over two years and has made a permanent move to heavyweight, recently competing in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8, losing to eventual champion Alistair Overeem.

On Jan. 6 from Bangkok, Rajadamnern stadium 130-pound title holder Jomthong Chuwattana claimed a decision over Jaroenchai Audonmuang. The bout was a repeat of the pair’s 2007 battle. Also in action, Vigo Sor. Phenprapa defeated Kayasit Chuwatana by third round TKO, Dendanai P.K. Stereo took a decision victory over Sakoontong Tor. Ponchai, and Aranchai Kiatpataraphan stopped Kompayak Chuwatan by fourth round TKO.

Steve Wakeling (center)

Jan. 8 saw The Champion’s Club host its sixth event from Pattaya, Thailand. In the night’s main event, England’s Steve Wakeling knocked out champ Jaochalam Chatkranokgym to become the new WBC Muay Thai super middleweight champion.

Also on Jan. 8, K-1 MAX held its first event of the year with a 70kg (154 lb), eight-man tournament. The opening round saw Nick Beljaards knock out favored Rachid Belaini in the second round, Rafi Zouheir claimed a decision over Tuncay Aydin, Warren Stevelmans outlasted Jonay Risco, and Rafa del Toro defeated Alejandro Asumu Osa, also by decision. In the semi-finals, Stevelmans took a decision over del Toro and Zouheir needed an extension round to get past Beljaards. The final saw Zouheir win the tournament with a decision victory over Stevelmans. In non-tournament bouts, Orinta var dar Zee defeated Mar Rodriguez, Zebene Diaz defeated Simon Santana, and Fran Palenzuela defeated Dani Montesdeoca, all by decision.

Finally, on Jan. 9, Japanese promotion Krush held the second round of its Kings Tournament. In a closely contested bout, Yoshihiro Sato took a split decision over Shemsi Beqiri. Koya Urabe survived Sung Hyun Lee after an extension round in their 63 kg (139 lb) tournament bout. Also in tournament action, Kizaemon Saiga claimed a decision over Naoki Terazaki, Takuya Shirahama needed an extension round to defeat Yuki Yamamoto, and Ryuki Kajiwara defeated TaCa by unanimous decision. The tournament concludes on March 19. The highlight of the event was when Yuya Yamamoto scored a big knock out over Masahiro Watanbe in the second round.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

Just as we settle into the New Year, great competitions are now in sight and even in the cold winter days and nights, the training mats are on fire with competitors preparing themselves for the battles that lie ahead in 2011.

What has become a world-wide competition, The Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials, will be making its next stop in Jersey City, N.J. at the Jersey City Armory to see who will be making the trip to Abu Dhabi for the competition’s main event in April. Set to take place on Feb. 5, the World Pro competition is now on the East Coast of the United States after already having trials in South Korea, Brazil, New Zealand and Sweden. Each division winner at the brown/black belt categories and each lower belt absolute winners (two separate absolute winners at each belt) will be rewarded with an all-expenses paid trip to compete in Abu Dhabi. The trip will include site visits, free hotel accommodations and so on. After the WPBJJ’s trip in the U.S., it will be heading to Lisbon, Portugal, for its next trial to see who else will be in the main Abu Dhabi event. In March, the event will be making a trip back to the United States for trials to take place in Las Vegas and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Another competition to kick off the New Year is the Grapplers Quest’s Florida State Jiu-Jitsu Championships, set to run on Feb. 5 in Coral Springs, Fla. There is expected to be big super-fight matchups and a $1000 prize to all pro division winners.

On the IBJJF’s calendar, shortly after the European Open, set to take place in Lisbon, Portugal, on Jan. 27-30, their next tournament will be the second installment of the Houston International Open in Houston, Texas on Feb. 12 and 13. In the inaugural event last year, Bruno Bastos was crowned absolute champion, so expect last year’s champion and many more to be entering again this year.

Also on the IBJJF calendar is the first big championship on U.S. soil: Pan 2011. In its second year in Irvine, Calif., expect this competition to be replete with the best black belts in the world, including Bernardo Faria, Kayron Gracie, Bruno Malfacine, Caio Terra, Michael Langhi and many more. The Pan is always one of the biggest tournaments the world can produce and you can count on it being even bigger than it was last year.

So, for the competitors, the map to a successful year is being laid out and all there is to do is train hard to be at the top for each one of these prestigious competitions!

Combat Sports Report: New Black Belts, Southern Scuffle, Muay Thai Champs Clash

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

Every new year brings a new crop of young black belt talent to the world’s biggest stage, and 2011 looks to be no different than in the years past. With the new talent now competing in the toughest level of competition, the divisions are shaping up to be more stacked than ever before. This year there are plenty of competitors that will be a big threat to the black belts who have already established their names as some of the best in the world. Here are a few, in my opinion, that have the ability to really shake things up at even the toughest competitions for black belts:

Ary Farias (photo courtesy of GracieMag)

Ary Farias (Atos) – Farias, over the years, has become one of the best known non-black belts in the jiu-jitsu community and now he takes that popularity into the black belt division in 2011. The recently promoted Ramon Lemos black belt is a five-time world champion (IBJJF) at all the intermediate belts, and champion at prestigious tournaments such at the Brazilian Nationals, Pan’s, Europeans and Nogi Worlds. This year, Ary won his fifth World championship in the featherweight division by beating tough names such as Justin Rader and Michel Langhi. Look for him to continue his winning ways in either the light-featherweight (141 lbs) or featherweight divisions (154 lbs) with his Atos teammates Bruno Frazzato and the Mendes brothers, Rafael and Gui.

Marcus Almeida (Check Mat) – Almeida is currently the Worlds brown belt super heavyweight (221 lbs) and absolute champion. He has made a big enough name for himself that many believe he could soon pose a threat to the top Jiu-Jitsu fighter in the world present day, Roger Gracie. Recently promoted by Rodrigo Cavaca while receiving his absolute medal on the podium at the Worlds, he’s already taken out some tough names in his first few black belt competitions. At black belt, he has already shown himself to be very capable of victory without the gi by winning his weight class at the Pan and Worlds Nogi and closing out the Pan and Worlds Nogi absolute with wins over top names such as Gilbert “Durinho” Burns and Bruno Bastos.

Ryan Hall (Fifty/50) – Considered by many to be one of the best American black belt competitors, Hall will be carrying a good reputation into his first full year as a black belt. Hall is a multiple time Worlds, Pan and Brazilian Nationals medalist, consistently winning with a unique and constantly evolving game. While still a brown belt in 2009, Ryan put on a great showing at the ADCC, taking bronze with great fights against Jeff Glover and two time ADCC champion Leo Vieria. A Felipe Costa black belt, look for Ryan to be a top contender in the featherweight division after already gaining experience in the black belt division with fights against world champions like Rubens Charles and Rafael Mendes.

Zak Maxwell (Gracie Humaita) – Another young American talent that must be mentioned is none other than Maxwell. He is a World champion and multiple time Pan champion at brown belt along with numerous medals from the Pans, Worlds and all the top competitions out there today. The Regis Lebre black belt has fought the best, and beaten the best on his road to the dreamed-of black belt. Zak’s credentials include a silver medal in the 2008 Worlds absolute division although he was only a featherweight! (He also needed eight wins to just reach the finals.) Another win to his credentials includes being the 2010 Pan Grand Champion at brown belt winning both the lightweight (167 lbs) division and the absolute division. Needless to say that it is necessary for all lightweight black belts to watch out for this new competitor entering their division.

The greatest part about the sport of Jiu-Jitsu is that it never gets easier, the divisions (especially at black belt) become deeper and deeper with amazing talent every year, and these are just a few that will add to that overall talent during the 2011 season. That 2011 season for these four new black belts and many more, will be starting at the European Championships set to take place Jan. 27-30 in Lisbon, Portugal. This IBJJF championship has grown every year since its inaugural tournament and won’t be slowing down in size anytime soon.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Brandon Precin (photo courtesy of Northwestern University)

Maybe it’s not in the bag. Up to this point in the season, most of what I have heard about 125-pounds has been how there is Matt McDonough of Iowa and then seven other guys. This week, Northwestern’s Brandon Precin reminded the wrestling world that isn’t always how it works. Precin was coming off a redshirt, and he reminded everyone that he was a two-time All-American and a very legit contender in the Big 10 and nationally. Last week he made the home fans very happy, taking home the gold at the prestigious
Midlands tournament. After beating Anthony Zanetta of Pitt, who himself upset a very tough Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma in the quarters, Precin met defending national champion McDonough in the finals and won a 3-1 match. It will be interesting to see if that result is a look into the future or just a speed bump in McDonough’s run to a second national title. (in-depth coverage)

If the Southern Scuffle was any indication, we may be in store for the craziest NCAA title race ever. Both Cornell and Penn State didn’t have their full lineup, but man did this tourney have its waves of ups and downs. The two powerhouses met early and often, taking turns exchanging blows. (in-depth coverage)

Amongst all the holiday action, there were a few intriguing wrestlers and matchups that never panned out, most notably Darrion Caldwell and Andrew Long at the Southern Scuffle, but there were others I had on my wish list as well. I really wanted to see how Ryak Fitch of Iowa State would have done at Midlands, along with Mario Mason
and Scott Winston. As far as Caldwell goes, I really hope Brent Metcalf shoving him in mid-flight isn’t the last we see of him in NCAA competition. Although that title run two seasons ago was epic and legendary, I feel the matchups 149 presents this year can be just as epic. I guess I am just selfish, wanting to see him perform in front of a home crowd in Philly.

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Wisconsin
5. Minnesota
6. Iowa
7. Missouri
8. Illinois
9. Lehigh
10. Rutgers

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

On Dec. 29, Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand hosted a key fight in the Muay Thai world, as Nong-O Sit Or. battled Saenchai Sor. Kingstar. Nong-O is the current Lumpinee super featherweight (130 lb) champion and Saenchai is the current lightweight (135 lb) champion, as well as the WMC World Muay Thai champion. Saenchai claimed a decision victory after a highly technical fight.

Saenchai (red trunks) vs. Nong-O

Another Thai event has been announced for Jan. 8, as The Champions Club will host the promotion’s sixth event from Tipp Plaza in Pattaya. Headlining the card will be WBC Muay Thai super middleweight champion Jaochalam Chatkranokgym taking on England’s Steve Wakeling. The event also features a four-man 70kg (154 lb) tournament that pits Andi Rogner against Dan Magnusson and Saentiennoi against Yacine Darkrim in the opening round. The winner will face off in a five round bout to determine the tournament champion. Seven additional fights are slated to take place at the event as well.

United Glory will be hosting an event on Jan. 30 from Charleroi, Belgium. The event will feature six kickboxing bouts, as well as ten MMA fights. The kickboxing portion of the card will include the semi-finals of the Dutch promotion’s heavyweight tournament. Slated to compete are K-1 World Grand Prix participant Gökhan Saki vs. Wendell Roche and Brice Guidon vs. Mourad Bouzidi. Other bouts include Allan Gozdzicky taking on Hidouche Lahoucine, Diallo Lassana facing Tarek Mahillon, Filip Verlinden against Frédéric Sinistra, and Robin van Roosmalen will be in action against a yet to be named opponent.

Combat Sports Report: Kickboxing & Wrestling Previews, BJJ Year in Review

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

As 2010 winds to a close, the kickboxing world has slowed down after a high-paced final month. As discussed for the past few weeks, K-1 parent company, FEG, will be holding its annual Dynamite!! event on New Year’s Eve. The event will feature two K-1 rules bouts, as Grand Prix participant Kyotaro takes on DREAM light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi and Tetsuya Yamato battles Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura. Also, FEG has announced an opponent for K-1 Grand Prix Champion, Alistair Overeem. Facing the Dutchman will be UFC castoff, Todd Duffee.

Hesdy Gerges (R) (photo courtesy of It's Showtime)

Dutch promotion It’s Showtime has begun to promote their March 6 show from Amsterdam. The main event will feature heavyweight champ Hesdy Gerges facing Daniel Ghita. Kickboxing legend Andy Souwer will take on L’houcine Ouzgni, who is dropping to 70kg (154 lb). High energy and hard-hitting Gago Drago will battle Artur Kyshenko. Also on the card will be William Diender taking on Rachid Belaini and Mohamed Medhar squaring off against Warren Stevelmans.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

Last week, we took a look at who were voted as “The Best” in the year of 2010. But this week, the final week of this remarkable year in our sport, I’d like to sum up what we were all witness to in this year of growth in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the lessons we can take from it, into the New Year.

Superior technique can conquer superior size – This year, unlike any other year before, really showed the world that the small man can reign supreme in the battles against the bigger man. What it takes is superior technique and a “hard-to-find alloy called guts.” Technique and guts was what led roosterweight (126 lbs) fighter Caio Terra to victory in two absolute divisions in 2010 alone. First, he conquered the absolute division at the Las Vegas International Open (IBJJF) by beating both Ben Baxter and Robert Fonseca. Later on in the year, he added American National Absolute Champion to his resume by defeating super-heavyweight Bruno Bastos in the finals on advantage points.

The lesson that we can take from this is that a fight can never be determined by size or strength. It boils down to who has the sharper technique that day, and simply who wants it the most.

Patience is key – The road to victory is almost never a path paved with gold. There are going to be bumps along the way and disappointments that will knock you flat on your back. The key is how you respond to those setbacks. Many may respond by giving up and quitting due to a frustration from past failures. Roger Gracie, in the other case, has remained patient and always continued to drive forward, slowly but surely. This year, the five-time World Absolute runner-up (2003, ’04, ’05, ’06, and ’08) became the only man in history to become three-time World Absolute Champion (2007, ’09, and ’10) by defeating all seven of his foes, and six by submission. This marked his second straight Absolute title and he has now won 15 of his last 16 matches by submission. Those five losses could have easily derailed someone from a loss of confidence, to a loss of inspiration. But, after each loss he would silently walk away from it and come back stronger the next year. In 2010, it all came together as he made history and rid all the demons from years past, and is now widely considered the greatest Jiu-Jitsu competitor of all-time.

Be Versatile – For this lesson, we must look, once again, at Roger Gracie. In this year of Jiu-Jitsu, where the sport is increasingly ever-evolving, you must be well-rounded in all aspects of the game to stay ahead. I put Roger as the perfect example because seeing him at the 2010 Worlds, there was not one position that I thought he was lost in. Whether he was on his back after being taken down, or in an opponent’s tricky guard, or standing with a tough Judo player, I was confident he would succeed in each position, and every time he did. He was able to gain this level of superiority (against the world’s best, by the way) by studying every position there is. To be the best Jiu-Jitsu fighter in the world, you must know your takedowns, be able to work off your back and be able to fight confidently in the top positions, knowing you will not get swept or submitted. The sports competitors have become too educated in the game for anyone to survive being a “one-
trick pony.” There must never be just one position you fight from, it’s a necessity to have a full knowledge of all positions to stay on top.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Happy Holidays! This past week there were no significant events so we will give you a sneak peak at all the exciting action this week.

The Midlands are here. The 2010 Midlands Championship is upon us and this year’s field is set.

The two-day event takes place at the Welsh-Ryan Arena, home of the Northwestern Wildcats, from Dec. 29-30. The No. 18 Tigers are 8-4 on the year and have won five of their last six duals.

Action gets underway on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. CT with the first session. Day two begins at Noon CT, while the finals will begin at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday evening.

The Open Mat will be there doing a live blog for all those interested in following the action and chatting it up with other fans. (In-depth Coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Oklahoma
8. Illinois
9. Rutgers
10. Boise State

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Combat Sports Report: BJJ Awards, Reno Tourney of Champions, new It’s Showtime champs

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

Popovitch takes his opponent's back at the No-Gi Worlds (photo: John Lamonica/GracieMag)

With 2010 soon coming to a close, right now may be the perfect time to take a look back at the top competitors and top fights that made 2010 a year to remember.

In a vote taken on GracieMag.com to see who the fans believed were the best competitors in jiu-jitsu in 2010, the fans spoke and selected Pablo Popovitch as the leading vote-getter, with Roger Gracie taking second overall in the polls.

Pablo captured the jiu-jitsu community’s attention this year by having another stellar Nogi season, winning the Pan medium-heavyweight and closing out the Pan Absolute title with friend Marcus Bochecha. Later on in the year, Pablo captured the World Nogi title and, once again, won all his previous matches to close out the World Absolute title with Bochecha and Avengers teammate, Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu.

In the women’s voting, the clear winner was Team Alliance’s Gabrielle Garcia, who tore through all her competitors throughout the year, winning every event she entered including the Pan and World Absolute titles.

The voting also included categories such as “Best Fight of 2010,” which was awarded to Rafael Mendes (Atos) and Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles (Alliance) for their battle in the finals of the featherweight division at the 2010 Mundials. Mendes would go on to win the classic duel by two advantage points. In addition, the young Mendes was also awarded by the fans as jiu-jitsu’s most consistent athlete with Roberto Abreu coming in as the runner-up.

The fans also voted on the “Revelation of the Year” and the award was given to Atos middleweight black belt Claudio Calasans, who took the jiu-jitsu world by storm by winning the Abu-Dhabi World Pro Absolute and weight division, beating three-time World champion Braulio Estima in the process. Jiu-Jitsu’s new revelation had an eye-opening Mundial showing as well, taking the silver medal in the middleweight division, coming up short in the final against Marcelo Garcia by a tight two to zero score.

As we take a final look back at the year that was, let’s also look forward to the competitions that lie ahead including Claudio Franca’s growing U.S. Open competition scheduled to take place Jan. 29 in Santa Cruz. This competition continues to grow after each event, already drawing top names like Antonio Braga Neto, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, Theodoro Canal and Marcel Fortuna. This next event is expected to bring those big names and even more.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Shane Onufer helps boost Wyoming to a big win (photo courtesy of University of Wyoming)

The University of Wyoming wrestling program boosted its national reputation in a big way Sunday at a prestigious event in Reno, Nev. The Cowboys took to the mats in the Reno Tournament of Champions in an event that features some of the top teams and wrestlers from across the nation. With five wrestlers placing in the top five of their weight classes, the Cowboys scored 106 points to win the team title, edging out perennial powerhouse Boise State by 1.5 points. As a team, Wyoming went 41-20 in its matches. (In-depth Coverage)

The Penn State Nittany Lions wrestling team, under the guidance of head coach Cael Sanderson, battered visiting Ohio State 42-6 Sunday in the Big Ten wrestling dual meet opener for both teams. Number 5 Penn State won all but one bout against No. 22 Ohio State in front of yet another huge Rec Hall crowd. Over 5,100 fans cheered Penn State on as the Nittany Lions moved to 7-0 on the year.

With a starting line-up featuring five freshmen, the Nittany Lions were nonetheless dominant. Red-shirt freshman David Taylor remained undefeated with a 14-1 dismantling of Buckeye senior Colt Sponseller in the dual’s marquee bout at 157. Taylor entered the bout ranked No. 3 while Sponseller was No. 13. Taylor’s 14-1 major included 5:44 of riding time and the Lion freshman remains undefeated on the year with a 13-0 record. (In-depth Coverage)

Second-ranked Brandon Precin and fifth-ranked Jason Welch each pinned two opponents to lead a Northwestern team that improved to 10-0 on the year with shutout victories over Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Sunday. The ‘Cats blanked the Huskies, 38-0, before blowing past host SIUE, 51-0. The 51 points amassed against the Cougars mark the first time since 1986 that Northwestern has topped the 50-point plateau in a dual match. (In-depth Coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Oklahoma
8. Illinois
9. Rutgers
10. Boise State

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Mousasi to compete in K-1 rules fight at Dynamite!! 2010 (photo courtesy of Sherdog.com)

The kickboxing world is still abuzz after the performance of “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem at this year’s K-1 World Grand Prix just two weeks ago. K-1 parent company, FEG, looks to end the year with more fireworks, as it holds Dynamite!! 2010 on New Year’s Eve. Two K-1 bouts have been scheduled, as Tetsuya Yamato takes on Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura and Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi will match up against Grand Prix participant Kyotaro. Also on the card will be a mixed-rules match pitting Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki against Yuichiro “Jienotsu” Nagashima, with one round of kickboxing and one round of MMA. It is also rumored that Overeem will participate in the event, but in an MMA bout.

Dutch promotion It’s Showtime rounded out its year by crowning two new champions in their 70 kg (154 lb) and 77 kg (169.4 lb) divisions. The promotion recently held events in Athens and Amsterdam with titles up for grabs in both locations. As previously reported, current 61 kg (134.2 lb) champion Sergio Wielzen defeated Masahiro Yamamoto to retain his belt. Meanwhile, Chris Ngimbi claimed a decision victory over Murat Direkçi to take home the 70 kg strap. In Amsterdam, after former champion Cosmo Alexandre was stripped of his title, late replacement Artem Levin TKO’d the favored L’houcine Ouzgni to take home the 77 kg belt. In the night’s main event, Mohamed Khamal battled through an extension round to defeat Mosab Amrani in a potential fight of the year. After a busy 2010, the promotion has cemented itself as the clear-cut number two organization in the kickboxing world, and maintains lofty ambitions for 2011.

Combat Sports Report: Overeem claims K-1 crown, College Wrestling Rundown

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Alistair Overeem (photo courtesy of MMA Fighting)

The 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix wrapped up in Tokyo on Saturday night, with Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and MMA veteran Alistair Overeem taking the crown. The massive Dutchman competed only once in MMA during 2010, as he focused on winning the K-1 title. The three victories in the tournament gave Overeem an unblemished 5-0 record inside the kickboxing ring during the year.

The opening round of the tournament played out largely as expected, as Overeem defeated Tyrone Spong by decision, courtesy of a third-round knockdown, K-1 legend Peter Aerts defeated Mighty Mo by first-round knockout, 2009 Grand Prix Champion Semmy Schilt outpointed undersized opponent Kyotaro, and in the fight of the night, Gokhan Saki defeated Daniel Ghita after an extension round.

The semifinals saw Overeem overwhelm a battered Saki, who had visible injuries following the Ghita fight. And in his seventeenth K-1 Grand Prix, Aerts put on the performance of the lifetime to eliminate the massive Schilt (also giving himself a 3-2 head-to-head record against the big man).

In the final, Overeem need only 67 seconds to KO the exhausted Aerts and claim the tournament.

Other bouts saw Hesdy Gerges send Yusuke Fujimoto into retirement with a lopsided first-round TKO victory, Ewerton Teixeira get his revenge over Errol Zimmerman by unanimous decision, Singh Jaideep use his reach to pick apart Sergei Kharitonov, and Tsutomoto Takahagi take a decision over Hidekazu Kimura.

Dutch promotion It’s Showtime held an event from Athens, Greece, over the weekend. The event saw Chris Ngimbi upset the heavily favored Murat Direkci to claim the 70kg (154 lb) title. In the co-main event, late replacement Andy Souwer took a unanimous decision over Pajonsuk. Other action saw It’s Showtime 63 kg (138.6 lb) champion Sergio Wielzen defeat Masahiro Yamamoto, Yavuz Kayabashi upset K-1 MAX competitor Gago Drago, Tomas Hron defeat Alexey Ignashov by decision, and Chahid claim a decision over Rafal Dudek.

An intriguing mixed rules bout has been announced for this year’s Dynamite!! event on New Year’s Eve in Japan. Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki will take on K-1 MAX 2010 Japanese champion Yuichiro Nagashima. It is unclear how the rules will be applied, but it will likely include one round under kickboxing rules and one round under MMA rules, as seen in the Errol Zimmerman vs. Minowaman fight in 2008.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Hofstra came up with a big win this week with a 22-17 victory over the Maryland Terps. The key match was a pin at 174, where Ryan Patrovich recorded the fall in 1:49 over a red hot No. 8-ranked Mike Letts of Maryland. Patrovich has had his hot moments – you may remember he opened eyes a few seasons ago with a upset at NCAA’s over top seed Mack Lewnes of Cornell – but to this point he has yet to achieve All-America status. Patrovich remains a matchup nobody is looking forward to and will be an interesting 174-pounder to keep an eye on.

Jordan Burroughs (in red) (photo courtesy of the University of Nebraska)

Former national champ and Nebraska senior Jordan Burroughs may have perfected the art of the double-leg takedown. The show he put on against No. 6-ranked Cody Yohn of Minnesota was spectacular en route to a 23-7 tech fall. This season, Burroughs has put up 20 points or more in a match five times. He also put up 19 twice and has yet to record a victory that was not bonus points for the Huskers. Burroughs has always been one of the best pure athletes in college wrestling, but he appears to have worked a lot on his technique during his time off last season, and is now reaping the fruits of his labors. (In-depth Coverage)

After a 19-16 win over CAA powerhouse Rider, the Army wrestling team has improved to 3-1 under Joe Heskett. The Military Academies are a lot like Ivy League schools; it is very tough to build a program because you are recruiting from a very limited pool of wrestlers. But Coach Heskett seems to be on the right path, getting an impressive victory from 125-pounder Travis Coffey and a big win from Jordan Thome at 133-pounds, when he defeated a formerly ranked opponent Jimmy Kirchner 4-3. Rider had a few bright spots of their own as well – 174-pounder Rob Morrison seems to be adjusting very nicely to his full time move up from 165-pounds.

There are rivals, and then there are rivals. The feud between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is the latter and not just in wrestling, but also in athletics in general and in life. So Sunday’s match in Stillwater would be nothing less than epic, especially because of the revival in the Sooners program as of late. Well, it turned into a nightmare for Oklahoma, as they went down early and never recovered, going on to lose 22-12. The guys that led the way are names wrestling fans are familiar with in Perry and Rosholt, but these are not the same Perry and Rosholt that have five NCAA titles and numerous All-America finishes between them. Well, at least not yet. We’re talking, of course, about freshmen Chris Perry and Blake Rosholt, who both scored huge wins for the Cowboys. Perry knocked off Erich Schimdtke 6-1 and Rosholt edged No. 7-ranked Vegas champ Nathan Fernandez, 4-3, with a late reversal. These two have some real big shoes to fill, but it looks as if they are getting comfortable in their new boots and are ready to become real factors on the national scene, not just familiar names with tons of potential. (In-depth Coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma
9. Illinois
10. Rutgers

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Bryan Henderson

It was a slow week for grappling competition, following last week’s Grapplers Quest World Series of Grappling event.

Most grapplers are already gearing up for 2011. There are several important dates to mark on the calendar for early next year. Among them, the IBJJF will hold the European Open from Jan. 27 through Jan. 30 in Lisbon, Portugal and the Abu Dhabi World Pro tryouts will go down in Las Vegas on Jan. 29.

The World Pros will be held simultaneously with the World Pro Kids, Masters and Seniors tournaments and the No-Gi World Pro.

Also, the 2011 Florida State Grappling and Jiu-Jitsu Championships will take place in Coral Gables, Fla., on Feb. 5. The tournament might not be as high profile as the others, but it does offer a $1,000 prize in the Absolute division.

The Combat Sports Report: K-1 World GP Preview, Nittany Lion Open, World Series of Grappling

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Rarely is there a chance to showcase major US based events, however, on Dec. 5, Stand Up Promotions held its “King’s Birthday Celebration” in Commerce, Calif. The main event saw Malaipet take on Kevin Ross, with both fighters moving out of their familiar weight classes. After five round of action, it was Ross who secured the unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-45).

Elsewhere in the world, Thailand has reclaimed the King’s Cup, as Yodsaenklai Fairtex earned a decision victory over last year’s champion Cosmo Alexandre. The back and forth battle concluded the eight man tournament, but was marred by confusion after both fighters believed it was going more than three rounds. Alexandre was visibly upset with the outcome.

To reach the finals, Yodsaenklai defeated Vusi Colossa in the opening round and UK fighter Jordan Watson in the semi-finals, both by decision. Alexandre also won his first two bouts by decision against an overmatched Jesse Miles in the opening round and Alex Vogel in the semis.

Japanese promotion Sengoku Raiden Championships has announced a high-profile kickboxing bout for its New Year’s Eve show. Recent S-Cup champion Buakaw Por. Pramuk will face K-1 MAX veteran Hiroki Nakajima. The 70 kg (154 lb.) matchup adds the type of big names that Sengoku needs to compete with the typically larger FEG events, especially Dynamite!!, which takes place the following day.

Dutch based promotion ”It’s Showtime” recently announced that K-1 MAX Champion Giorgio Petrosyan has been forced to drop out of his fight with Pajonsuk. The promotion has secured Andy Souwer to take Petrosyan’s place and the fight will take place Saturday, Dec. 11. The event will be streamed live at Showtime Fights.

In other “It’s Showtime” news, the promotion has revealed its 2011 plans, further legitimizing their stance as the No. 2 kickboxing organization behind K-1. They will open the year on March 6 in Amsterdam with two big-name fights between heavyweight champion Hesdy Gerges and Daniel Ghita, as well as Artur Kyshenko taking on Gago Drago. The promotion will then move to Belgium at the end of March and will hold its premiere Amsterdam ArenA show in May. The event will serve as the 2011 European Qualifying GP for the K-1 World Grand Prix. Finally, on July 3, the promotion will hold a 70 kg (154 lb.) eight man tournament in Sochi, Russia. Participants include: Petrosyan, Souwer, Yoshihiro Sato, Gago Drago, Murat Direkçi, Evgeniy Kurovskoy, Chris Ngimbi and Dzhabar Askerov. Other bouts announced for the event are Hesdy Gerges facing Alexey Ignashov and L’houcine Ouzgni taking on Artur Kyshenko.

Despite rumors of a US expansion for “It’s Showtime” in the coming year, no dates were mentioned. However, England, Germany, Greece, and Spain are all being targeted as potential event locations during 2011.

Semmy Schilt (photo courtesy of FEG)

With less than a week to go before the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8, Hesdy Gerges finally has his opponent for Dec. 11 at the Ariake Colloseum. Although Gerges was originally slated to participate in a reserve fight, instead he will face Yusuke Fujimoto in a super fight to mark Fujimoto’s retirement.

Since the Grand Prix is the world’s premier kickboxing event, it seems appropriate to provide some analysis and predictions to event’s exciting fight card.

Super Fight #1 – Tsutomu Takahagi vs. Hidekazu Kimura

This fight matches two lesser known competitors, and despite Takahagi’s less than stellar 2-6 record in K-1 bouts, he is the much larger fighter. I expect the size and power advantage to yield a KO of Kimura.

Super Fight #2 – Hesdy Gerges vs. Yusuke Fujimoto

It’s fitting that this is Fujimoto’s retirement bout as there is little in his arsenal to defeat the rising Gerges. Unless Gerges makes the mistake of letting it go to the judges, where Fujimoto could pick up a gift decision, I believe it will be an ugly going away party for Fujimoto.

Super Fight #3 – Sergei Kharitonov vs. Singh Jaideep

Both fighters have had mixed results in the last year. Jaideep put on a miserable performance earlier in the year against Gokhan Saki, but has gotten back on track recently to retain his J-Network title. Kharitonov, meanwhile, looked thoroughly outclassed against Daniel Ghita during the qualifying tournament, but bounced back nicely against Takumi Sato, earning a first-round TKO. If Kharitonov shows the patience and footwork he showcased against Sato, he should put the lights out on Jaideep.

Tournament Reserve Fight – Ewerton Teixeira vs. Errol Zimmerman

The tournament’s reserve bout is a rematch of a 2008 Grand Prix bout in which Zimmerman handed the Brazilian Teixeira his first kickboxing defeat. Since then, the Kyokushin stylist has shown marked in improvement in his game, and I expect that Teixeira will get his revenge on Saturday night. Both men participated in the Final 8 in 2008 and 2009, but were each eliminated in the round of 16 this year.

Quarterfinal #1 – Mighty Mo vs. Peter Aerts

In a fight that matches the raw power and iron chin of Mighty Mo against the crisp technique of K-1 legend Peter Aerts, it will likely come down to who has more heart. Neither of these fighters will go down without a fight, but look for Aerts to pick apart Mo as he makes yet another run at the K-1 crown.

Quarterfinal #2 – Semmy Schilt vs. Kyotaro

Another intriguing first-round matchup pits the enormous 6’11″, nearly 300-pound Schilt against the 6-foot, 220-pound Kyotaro. Schilt is a four-time World Grand Prix champion, as well as the reigning K-1 Super Heavyweight title holder. Kyotaro, on the other hand, has held the K-1 heavyweight belt and defended it against the likes of Aerts and Gokhan Saki. I believe that Schilt’s size will be too much for Kyotaro in this fight and Schilt will be well on his way toward his fifth K-1 crown.

Quarterfinal #3 – Gokhan Saki vs. Daniel Ghita

On paper, it appears that this is the most evenly matched opening-round bout. Saki has gotten back on track in 2010 after a rough outing in 2009. The Romanian, Ghita, is one of the rising stars in K-1, whose only defeat came at the hands of the Schilt. Saki holds an experience advantage, but I believe it will be Ghita’s precise attack that will win this bout for him.

Quarterfinal #4 – Alistair Overeem vs. Tyrone Spong

Another bout with a significant size disadvantage will put the 6’5″, 255-pound Overeem against the smaller, faster 6’2″, 200-pound Spong. Overeem has exhibited true knockout power unlike any K-1 fighter since he began to focus more heavily on the sport in late 2008. He still has holes in his game, as he splits time training for his MMA career, but I don’t believe Spong will be able to expose them. My prediction is a first-round KO for Overeem.

Predicted Semifinal #1 – Peter Aerts vs. Semmy Schilt

If my predictions hold true, this will mark the fifth meeting between these two legends of the sport inside a K-1 ring. The pair has split their previous four bouts, with Aerts claiming a decision in 2008. Since that bout, Schilt has not lost in K-1. Despite how enjoyable it would be to see Aerts take another crack at the title, I expect Schilt to move on to the final.

Predicted Semifinal #2 – Daniel Ghita vs. Alistair Overeem

This contest is a coin flip. Neither fighter has a ton of K-1 experience, although both are experienced fighters. Both have fallen short against elite competition (Ghita against Schilt, Overeem against Remi Bonjasky), however Overeem does hold a 2008 knockout of Badr Hari. As much as I would enjoy seeing an Overeem-Schilt final, I believe Ghita will show better technique and walk away the victor.

Predicted Final – Semmy Schilt vs. Daniel Ghita

Schilt dominated Ghita from bell to bell in their 2009 fight, and there is little to make me believe it won’t happen again. Schilt will likely cruise to a decision win and claim his fifth K-1 crown.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

With a scrappy 3-1 victory over number No. 3 Nick Bedelyon of Kent State, not only did Alan Waters of Missouri pull off the upset, but he also made the difference in Missouri’s 19-15 victory over Kent State. The talk for many was that Waters matched up very well with Bedelyon and that it could be the difference in the dual. Well, the crystal balls seemed to be spot on, as the true freshman frustrated Bedelyon on his feet and scored two back points in a 3-0 match. At 19-0 Waters has planted his name in the mix at 125 pounds this season.

The 141-pound weight class was a real tough one at the Las Vegas Cliff Keen Invitational. Michigan’s Kellen Russell rose to the occasion with a pair of impressive victories. In the semifinals, he scored a huge pin in a little over a minute against Illinois’ Jimmy Kennedy. (In-depth coverage)

As expected the Oklahoma State-Minnesota match was a down-dirty barn burner.  The Cowboys won a razor-close dual victory, 17-16, over Minnesota. The match everyone was waiting for Clayton Foster (OSU) vs. Sonny Yohn (MN), did not disappoint and saw Foster come away with a 7-4 victory. Both teams have a lot of new faces this season, but don’t seem to have missed a step at all and it will be fun to see how they stand up in there conference schedules.

Penn State does well at Nittany Lion Open (photo courtesy Penn State Athletics)

The rumor is that the Rutgers bus can be heard singing “Hakuna Matata” and “In the Jungle” all the way back to New Jersey after the day Mario Mason enjoyed. Mason knocked of three Nittany Lions en route to his Nittany Lion Open title. First, he beat redshirt Dylan Alton, 7-6, in the quarterfinals. Then another tough Lion prospect, James English, in the semifinals, 3-1. Finally the leader of the pride, No. 2 Frank Molinaro, was victimized in the finals, 3-2. Maybe this is the momentum the Minnesota transfer and former No. 1 recruit from Blair Academy needs to propel him back into the conversation of contenders at 149 pounds after an up-and-down start of the season. (In-depth coverage)

Maryland’s Mike Letts threw his name into a wide-open 174-pound field with an impressive run at the Nittany Lion Open. Letts beat a seasoned NCAA tournament veteran in Alex Caruso from Rutgers. Then in the finals it was dapper dandy Ed Ruth of PSU that went down to defeat, 9-4. This after Ruth was on a fast track to a title with two falls, two tech falls and a win over All-American Scott Giffin of Penn. The 174-pounders will be a fun weight to follow all season. As of right now, it seems to be Mack Lewnes of Cornell and then close your eyes and pick‘em, with Letts certainly in that mix. (In-depth coverage)

We mentioned once this season about how impressive Penn State’s David Taylor and Andrew Alton have been. On Sunday, the duo barely broke a sweat as Alton recorded five falls, including a 39-second fall, over Zach Kemmerer in the finals. The only wrestler not to count the lights against Alton was UNC’s Danny Lopes, who lost 7-5. Lopes has quietly been putting together a solid campaign. Taylor was just as impressive, recording tons of back points all the way to the final, where he handled Virginia Tech’s Jesse Dong, 9-3. Another PSU freshman, Frank Martellotti, continues to wrestle really tough, capturing a title at 125 pounds. The only point he gave up all day was in a 17-1 tech fall of Virginia’s Gabriel Gomez.

Penn State will need these three to continue wrestling at this level because the hosts got a blow Sunday with an injury to All-American Quentin Wright. He might be back soon but, by all accounts, it wasn’t a pretty sight. (In-depth coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma
9. Illinois
10. Oregon State

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found at The Open Mat website, our partners.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Bryan Henderson

(L to R) Reis, Assis and Chsiev (photo courtesy of Grapplers Quest)

João Assis’s amazing year continued at the Grapplers Quest 2010 World Series of Grappling on Dec. 4 in Asbury Park, N.J. The 2010 World’s Best Grappler winner can now add another top honor to his mantle, as he came in first in the No-Gi Advanced Absolute division.

ADCC North American trial winner Rustam Chsiev placed second behind Assis, while Bellator veteran Wilson Reis finished third.

Other winners in the Advanced division of the World Series included Jimmy Santiago at bantamweight, Sidemar Honorio at flyweight, Patrick Sabatini at featherweight, Chris Ulbricht at lightweight, Garry Tonan at welterweight, Matt Secor at middleweight, Tom Manelski at cruiserweight, Derek Picinich at light heavyweight and Carlos Edwardo Farias at superweight.

The World Cup Jiu-Jitsu Championship took place in Sao Paulo last weekend. Three-time roosterweight champion Bruno Malfacine defeated another world champion in Pablo Silva. Sérgio Moraes was the other big winner at the event, capturing the absolute division and defeating Alexandre de Souza for the World Cup belt.

The Combat Sports Report: Northeast Duals, Kharitonov in K-1, Souza prepping for MMA debut

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Rollie Peterkin (photo courtesy of AmateurWrestlingPhotos.com)

After surprising most of us by starting the season at 141 pounds for the Binghamton Open, Penn’s Rollie Peterkin dropped down to 133 and has been on a tear going 7-0 with only two of those bouts being regular decisions. Raising his record to 10-1, Peterkin seems to be finding his comfort zone and I’m interested to see how he fairs at the Southern Scuffle or more likely the Midlands in the month of December. Rollie has been a blue chip wrestler since his prep days and is looking to break thru from the round of 12 and become an All-American this season. We should have a better idea where he stands in the 133 mix. (In-depth coverage)

A few weeks ago some people felt I was harsh on Rutgers after their showing in the Oklahoma Gold. Well, I guess now they get to say “I told you so” after RU’s very impressive weekend at the Northeast duals. The Scarlet Knights went 3-0 including a win over No. 12 Missouri, which might have been the biggest win for the program to date. December should be interesting for Rutgers more on the individual level as they have George Mason and Princeton coming in and there are some great individual matchups in those duals, plus I am really interested in seeing how Rutgers stacks up at the Midlands. In the past, RU has brought only one or two wrestlers, but this year we can expect almost a full squad and a few guys with legitimate chances of placing high. (In-depth coverage)

Sometimes a wrestler’s record can be deceiving. Take the case of George Mason’s 184-pounder Bagna Tovuujav. Holding a record of 1-4 on the season, you may think he is a liability in the line up. Not true at all – all of Tovuujavs losses come by one point, including one to Lehigh’s No. 9-ranked Robert Hamlin. Last season he was 30-10 and a CAA runner up. He may fly under the radar, but if he can get his offense going he may be a surprise at 184 this season, especially considering that folkstyle is new to him and he had never wrestled it before he came to St Benedict’s Prep in high school.

The Northeast Duals is a road trip Dom Bradley will want to forget, as the No. 2-ranked heavyweight went 0-3. It is not as devastating as it sounds – all three of his losses were to top 10 wrestlers. It’s safe to say he will probably bounce back from this and be a threat all year, but a 0-3 day never feels good and the fact that he seemed to fade later in matches is something he will have to go back to work on.

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma
9. Illinois
10. Oregon State

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Sergei Kharitonov

K-1 recently announced a superfight and reserve bouts for its Dec. 11 Grand Prix.

The superfight will pit Sergei Kharitonov against Singh Jaideep. Kharitonov looks to continue working his way back up the ranks after an impressive performance against Takumi Sato at this year’s Final 16. Jaideep won the 2009 Asian GP, but was defeated by Everton Teixiera.

The reserve bouts will feature the aforementioned Teixeira taking on Errol Zimmerman. Both fighters reached the Grand Prix’s final 8 in 2008 and 2009, but were eliminated this year. The fight is a rematch of a 2008 opening round matchup that saw Zimmerman claim victory. The second reserve fight will include It’s Showtime champion Hesdy Gergesv, but an opponent has yet to be secured. Initial rumors indicated it would be Badr Hari taking the fight, fresh off his release from prison in Amsterdam, but he has since declined.

It’s Showtime has announced that L’houcine Ouzgni will face Artem Levin at its Dec. 18 event for the vacant 77kg (169.8-pound) title. The promotion recently stripped Cosmo Alexandre of the title and removed him from future events. A decorated Muay Thai combatant, Levin’s most recent accomplishment was winning the 75kg (165.3-pound) division at the SportAccord Combat Games. He holds victories over Vitaly Hurkou, Yodsaenklai Fairtex, and Dmitry Shakuta.

Recent K-1 MAX Champion Giorgio Petrosyan will return from surgery on his broken hand to take on Yohan Lidon on Jan. 29 at the Thai Boxe Mania show in Italy. Other bouts on the card include Kaoponlek taking on Andrei Kulebin, and Fabio Pinca rematches Sudsakorn sor. Klinmee, and Petrosyan’s brother Armen facing Abdallah Mabel. Mabel recently lost a decision to Khem Sitsongpeenong at the Nuit des Champions event in France.

In other K-1 MAX news, Albert Kraus quickly returned to competition, taking out Muhammed Gur by decision at a Klash event in Germany.

At the Rumble of the Kings event, Bob Sapp was demolished by Jorgen Kruth, requiring Sapp’s corner to throw in the towel. Also in action was MMA veteran Gary Goodridge, who was battered by Catalin Morosanu. Other notable results saw Artur Kyshenko defeat Marcus Oberg by decision, Dzhabar Askerov deliver a second round TKO of William
Sriyapai and Rickard Nordstrand claim victory over Jiri Zak.

Finally, Evolution 22 from Australia saw Nathan Corbett knock out Frank Munoz in the third round, Eli Madigan defeat Harlee Avison after a cut stopped the bout, Frankie Giorgi provide a knockout victory over Bruce Macfie in the second and Yud Rawai take home a split decision over Michael Thompson.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Bryan Henderson

From left: Nascimento, Wilson, Lang and Vieira (photo courtesy of GracieMag)

The 11th Pan-Pacific Jiu-Jitsu Championship went down in Melbourne, Australia last weekend. Alan “Finfou” do Nascimento was a big winner at the event, taking first places finishes in the 79kg (174.2-pound) gi and nogi divisions and the gold in the absolute gi division with a win over Mick Wilson. The 249-pound Wilson, meanwhile, claimed top honors in the absolute and +97kg (plus-213.8-pound) nogi divisions. Standout performances were also turned in by lightweight gi division winner Carlos Vieira and medium heavyweight gi division champion Rafael Lang.

The Arab trials for the Abu Dhabi Pro World Cup took place Nov. 26 & 27 in Amman, Jordan. Haidar Rasheed took top honors in the open weight purple belt division. Other first place finishers included Ghaleb Odeh at -64kg (under-141.1-pound), Saddam Abdallah at -68kg (under-150), Abdallah Nabas at -74kg (under-163.1), Qasem Smadi at -80kg (under-174.4), Zaid Jarandouka at -86kg (under-189.6), Faisal Souqi at -92kg (under-202.8) and Ali Shareef at +92kg (plus-202.8).

There is a possibility that the 2011 edition of the ADCC submission wrestling world championships could take place in Brazil, according to Wagner Gomes, secretary of ADCC in Brazil. The last time ADCC held its top event in Brazil was in 2003.

Marcos Souza, the absolute champion of the 2010 Asian Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship, is venturing into mixed martial arts. He’s currently in Brazil preparing for his MMA debut, a January superfight against Korea’s Park Jeong Gyo at a Deep event in Macau.

The year’s final major event is almost upon us. Grapplers Quest’s 2010 World Series of Grappling takes place Dec. 4 in Asbury Park, N.J. Among the expected competitors will be 2010 World’s Best Grappler winner João Assis, 2010 No Gi Worlds Absolute division champ Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu and ADCC North American trial winner Rustam Chsiev. UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino will be in attendance for a special free Meet & Greet with fans at the event.

The Combat Sports Report: K-1 Koshien, Sprawl & Brawl, ADCC, Rickson Cup

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

Shoei Hareyama (photo courtesy of K-1/video still image)

Saturday, Nov. 20, saw K-1 host its Koshien 2010 King of Under 18 Final from Differ Ariake in Tokyo. The format of the tournament was changed for 2010, as the entire tourney was decided in a single event. In years past, the final four competitors participated at the end of year Dynamite event. The 32 competitors fought one two-minute round in the opening portion of the tournament, with the semifinals and finals consisting of three 2-minute rounds. In a bit of a surprise, 2009 Koshien Champion Masaaki Noiri was defeated in the second round of the tournament. With the favorite defeated, Shoei Hareyama claimed this year’s championship by knocking out Hiroki Akimoto in the second round of the final bout. Full results of the tournament:

Elite Boxing staged its Thailand v. Germany show over the weekend and Leroy Kaestner took out late replacement Cagri Ermis by decision to claim the WFCA European 72.5kg (160-pound) title. Thailand claimed the series fights by a score of 2-0 over Germany, as Kaoklai defeated Marco Aschenbrenner and Nonsai defeated Alex Vogel, both by decision.

Coming up on Thursday from Dubai will be Thailand v. Middle East. The card will feature Samranchai taking on Mostafa Abdollahi, as well as Vahid Rosyani facing Ahmed Saadi.

UFC veteran Jeff Monson was scheduled to face IKF Muay Thai super heavyweight champion Patrice Quarteron at the “Fight for Peace” on Reunion Island off of France. Unfortunately, Monson experienced family problems and was forced to pull out of the Muay Thai contest.

The 2010 S-Cup did not play out as expected. The likely tournament final of former two-time K-1 MAX Champion Buakaw Por. Pramuk and three-time S-Cup and two-time K-1 MAX Champion Andy Souwer did not happen, as Souwer was upset by Bellator’s Toby Imada.

Imada came in as a late replacement for Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett and, after upsetting Umeno by knockout in the tourney’s opening round, claimed a split-decision victory over Souwer in the semifinals.

Buakaw would capture the 2010 Shoot Boxing S-Cup by outclassing all three of his tournament opponents. Buakaw’s claimed decisions over Shishido and Henri van Opstal on his way to the finals. In the final, the Thai fighter would attack Imada’s legs, knocking him down five times in the first two rounds from leg kicks. Due to the three-knockdown rule, the bout was called in the second to award Buakaw the victory.

In other notable bouts, Dream fighter Daiki “DJ.taiki” Hata defeated Tomohiro Oikawa by knockout in the second round, while Strikeforce and Pride vet Mitsuhiro Ishida was knocked out by Hiroaki Suzuki in the second round of their bout.

Cosmo Alexandre, the “It’s Showtime” 77kg (170-pound) champion who was recently stripped of his title and removed from the promotion’s upcoming card, released a statement regarding the situation. Alexandre claims that he agreed to the King’s Cup tournament bout on Dec. 5, prior to the scheduled Dec. 18 bout from the promotion and that he was not aware of the scheduling stipulations claimed by “It’s Showtime.” He also blamed financial reasons for his decision to compete in both events, but without knowing the specifics of his contract, it’s unclear where the blame should lie.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

Anthony Robles of Arizona State made a bang at the NWCA All Star match, dominating Zach Sanders in tech, falling the Gopher 20-2. Robles continues to impress and show he will be a match-up no 125-pounder will want in Philly this March. Also making a statement at the all-star match was oft-outspoken former Penn State standout Bubba Jenkins. The new Sun Devil came home with a major decision over top-ranked Adam Hall 12-4. (in-depth coverage)

Central Michigan’s Scott Sentes should be tested for Anaconda blood in his DNA. Sentes has been absolutely dominate so far this season. He rode Cornell’s Joe Stanzione for two days straight at the dual and the Body Bar. (in-depth coverage)

Dan Rinaldi (photo courtesy of Rutgers)

Dan Rinaldi of Rutgers turned some heads going to overtime with Quentin Wright of Penn State and No. 13 Mario Mason (Rutgers) had a very impressive win over West Virginia’s No. 8 Brandon Rader of West Virginia 6-1 and a controversial loss to No. 3 Frank Molinaro of Penn State, who is back after an injury. (in-depth coverage)

Penn State continued its hot start, knocking off another ranked opponent. Perhaps what’s most impressive are the starts of Andrew Alton and David Taylor. Both freshman seem to have no issues with wrestling on the Division 1 level, rolling through the Sprawl and Brawl.

As most of the wrestling community has heard, after a lack-luster win in the Central Michigan dual, Cornell’s Kyle Dake is overrated and will never hang with the likes of Frank Molinaro (Penn State) and Darrion Caldwell (North Carolina State). It is time to take a deep breath and breathe, people. Kyle Dake may or may not win a title this year, but I am sure when his ribs get healthy and he learns to manage the weight cutting for 149 pounds, he will be in the mix.

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Wisconsin
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma
9. Central Michigan
10. Illinois

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Bryan Henderson

Kron Gracie (white gi) vs. Karim Byron (photo courtesy of GracieMag/John Lamonica)

Braulio Estima, Shane Rice and brothers Guilherme and Rafael Mendes were among the winners at the Rickson Cup, held Nov. 20 in Japan. The absolute division crown went to Kron Gracie, son of the event’s namesake, with a win over Karim Byron in the finals.  Kron also captured first place in the middleweight division.

I’ve been talking about it for weeks, but the ADCC North American trials finally took place on Nov. 20 in New Jersey. Top honors went to Mario Rinaldi in the +99kg (plus-218-pound) division, Joseph Lee Baize at 88-99kg (194-218 pounds), Rustam Chsiev at 77-87kg (170-192 pounds), Vagner Rocha at 66-76kg (145.5-167.5) and Mark Ramos in the under-65kg (under-145-pound) division.

Chsiev has entered the year’s final major event, the 2010 World Series of Grappling, which goes down on Dec. 4 in Asbury Park, N.J..

Another big event this past weekend was the South American Jiu-Jitsu Open. Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes walked away with championships in both the lightweight and absolute divisions. In both campaigns, he had to go through Mario Reis of Gracie Barra to claim top honors. Other winners at the event included Bruno Frazatto at featherweight and Priscila Prandini in the brown/black belt female divisions at medium heavyweight and open weight.

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