The Grappler’s Quest West in Las Vegas NV has always been a star making tournament, with some of the most significant names in the sport making their marks here.The very first Grappler’s Quest West saw the emergence of Marc Laimon as the champion, defeating archrival Dean Lister. Subsequent Grappler’s Quest West have seen final tournaments of Dave Terrell over Cameron Earle, Roy Nelson over Diego Sanchez, the Avellan brothers continued their heated rivalry against the American Top Team fighters and more. The very last Grappler’s Quest West featured the return of Marc Laimon defeating Ryron Gracie, and featured several professional tournaments, one of which pitted Pride audition winner Tyrone Glover over The Ultimate Final winner Joe Stevenson.
Any way you look at it, there is definitely a lot of history that goes into the GQ West event, and coming up on Saturday, November 12 there will be plenty more history made as the largest submission grappling tournament on the West Coast comes to town again. There are always plenty of surprises in the advanced divisions as each category will feature some of the top names in the business. In addition there will be three professional tournaments as main events, including a lightweight men’s bracket and two female divisions.
LeveRAGE.tv presents: 8-Man Lightweight Superfight Tournament:
Wander Braga (Jorge Pereira Black Belt)vs.Bill Cooper (Paragon BJJ)
Wagnney Fabiano (Toronto BJJ/Nova Uniao)vs.Gilbert Melendez (Cesar Gracie/#2 RANKED SHOOTO Fighter in the World)
Sandro “Batata” Santiago (Ralph Gracie – Defending Lightweight Champvs.Scott Bieri (Cobra Kai/Marc Laimon)
Jeff Glover (Paragon BJJ – 2005 Japan Superfight Champion)vs.Phil Cardella (Relson Gracie/Arnolds Lightweight Champ)
Alternates: Jack McVicker (“Megaton” Diaz Black Belt)
Analysis of the Lightweight Division:
Everyone in this division has been a champion before, but when the dust settles Saturday afternoon there can be only one.
Sandro “Batata” Santiago is the defending champion here and looks to be the man to beat this year. The Gordo Black Belt (by way of Ralph Gracie) has a large arsenal of techniques at his disposal, and gi wise is the undisputed master of the loop choke. How can that translate into the submission grappling game? It’s been remarked that Batata’s style is more and more like a “gringo” the more he ahs been in the US.(DISCLAIMER: Batata is the main instructor at Gumby’s home academy of Ralph Gracie Mountain View).
Facing Batata in the first round will be Scott Bieri, brown belt under Marc Laimon’s Cobra Kai. Scott is a multiple time GQ advanced winner and at one point among the hottest submission grapplers in the country with an undefeated streak of over 30 matches against tough opponents. Scott combines tons of mat experience, technical wizardry and natural athleticism and balance from his former career as a semi-pro snowboarder!
The title of hottest grappler in the world right now may go to Jeff Glover, who added among his many titles a big tournament win in Japan. OTM labeled Jeff “the Giant Killer” of 2004 for his constant and Glover’s game has contintued to improve by leaps and bounds this year as his technique matures coupled with an explosive creativeness that will make any opponent pay dearly for any mistakes made during a match.
Phil Cardella from Relson Gracie Austin will be Jeff Glover’s first round opponent. Phil is a tough and active opponent, who will often forgo a point game in favor of submission attempt after submission attempt.
The other side of the bracket is equally tough. Wagney Fabiano is the Brazilian ADCC representative from 2005 and he fought well at the big dance taking 2nd place Rany Yahara to overtime before going down. This is sure to make him a dangerous opponent this time around as he looks for a bit redemption after coming so far. Wagney is a solid black belt in jiujitsu who is also renowned for his wrestling prowess.
Facing Wagney will be someone who likely has superior wrestling skills in Gilbert Melendez, undefeated MMA fighter from the Cesar Gracie camp. At ADCC Gilbert pulled one of the bigger upsets in defeating Baret Yoshida. Adding to his solid wrestling base and huge heart, Gilbert’s jiu jitsu abilities have been growing at an explosive rate.
Rounding out the lightweight bracket is young phenom Bill “the Grill” Cooper, who has astounded audiences world wide with his display of sick jiujitsu skills, impossible contortions and never say die attitute. It is safe to say that every Bill Cooper match is an event as he ALWAYS makes for an exciting match up.
Facing Bill Cooper will be Wander Braga, a fixture on the jiujitsu scene for quite some time both in Brazil and in the United States. In addition to a long competition history in jiujitsu and submission grappling Wander is undefeated in MMA compeition. The self described quiet warrior, he is very tactical and seeks to control and dominate his opponents through careful technique. You probably couldn’t draw a bigger contrast in styles between Braga and Cooper and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
LeveRAGE.tv presents: 8-Women Lightweight Superfight Tournament:
Gazzy Parman (Nova Uniao/John Lewis)vs.Kathleen Rozzi (Saulo Ribeiro/Rozzi Self Defense)
Lisa Plaski (Machado – 2-Time GQ Champ)vs.Cathy “CJ” McCue (Alberto Crane/Santa Fe BJJ)
Cindy Hales (Demon Jiu-Jitsu/Seattle BJJ Academy)vs.Jeanette Portocarrero (Jean Jacques Machado)
Amanda Buckner (AMMA)vs.Felicia Oh (10th Planet JJ/Jean Jacques Machado)
Alternate: Gisele Braga (Rodrigo Medeiros – Revolution Team)
Plenty of interesting competitors in the Women’s lightweight tournament. Gazzy Parman is among the most talked about female competitors and she definitely has the skills to back it up, with numerous GQ titles to her credit. Kathleen Rozzi, representing Saulo Riberio should prove an interesting test, as Saulo’s students always come well prepared and ready to fight.
Lisa Plaski is a two time GQ champion and will be facing another GQ champion in CJ McCue. On the other hand Cindy Hales and Jeanette Portocarrero are both relative new comers to GQ but will be coming in with tons of promise.
The first round match up to watch out for in this division will be Amanda Buckner against Felicia Oh, both of whom have probably competed in every Grappler’s Quest tournament thus far and are two of the most dangerous grapplers on the circuit. The winner of this bout will be heavily favored in the tournament.
LeveRAGE.tv presents: 8-Women Cruiserweight Superfight Tournament:
Kizma Button (Randy Bloom/Ground Zero)vs.Michele “GrappleGirl” Farrow (American Martial Arts Center)
Katie Wilebaker (Paragon Jiu Jitsu – Worlds BJJ Champ)vs.Milda Shibonis (Pedro Sauer), 2-Time Grapplers Quest Advanced Champ
Marianna Garcia (Machado Black Belt – 2-Time GQ Champ)vs.Kelly Paul (Ralph Gracie – Pan Ams Champion)
Christy Thomas (Relson Gracie – Arnolds Pro Champion)vs.Sarah Boyd (Alberto Crane/Santa Fe BJJ)
Kizma Button is the teen sensation who show a grappling maturity well beyond her years and has terrorized many grappling competitions. She will be facing Michele “GrappleGirl” Farrow, who definitely brings an intensity to each of her matches. “World Champion” Katie took gold at this years Mundials blue belt division and winning this tournament would cap off an extraordinary year. Milda Shibonis is a 2x GQ winner coming out of the Pedro Sauer camp. The match up in this division will be Mariana Garcia, one of the toughest women competitors with or without a gi around against 2x Pan American purple/brown/black champion Kelly Paul, who has terrorized the gi populace, but is making her no gi debut here. To round off Christy Tomas will be facing Sarah Boyd.
See everyone in Las Vegas!