The distance between Mountain View and Las Vegas is 542 miles. Why I agreed to travel that distance in Cameron’s 68 Dodge Dart is still a mystery to me as I type thisThe distance between Mountain View and Las Vegas is 542 miles. Why I agreed to travel that distance in Cameron’s 68 Dodge Dart is still a mystery to me as I type this. Naturally the green thing conked out about 200 miles into the trip (on one of Cam’s “shortcuts”) and about 1,000,000 miles from civilization. When Cam asked the cab driver if cow tipping was a favorite pastime in the area, the cabbie got a little indignant as she explained, “if you tried to tip my Bessie over, she’s likely launch you clear across the meadow.” Luckily the next morning we were able to get a rental car, and eventually made it to Las Vegas. You always have to allow for a bit of craziness, you see, when making a trip to Vegas. There was more than a little craziness waiting for us when we got to the Grappler’s Quest itself. With nearly 600 competitors and about 1,000 spectators, it may well have been the largest tournament of its kind EVER. Props to Brian Cimins for once again putting on such a great tournament, as many of the Nations most talented grapplers, both seasoned veterans and new up and comers came out for the competition. This was obviously a huge amount of matches to get through in a one day tournament, and although things ran long, it was somehow pulled off. The day started with 8 man absolute participant Todd Margolis singing the national anthem. Who knew? In addition to being an extremely talented grappler, the man can sing! Really good to see the East Coast represented here, and Todd Margolis turned out to be a really cool guy. Todd was going to have his work cut out for him however, as the 8-man absolute invitational was among the toughest assemblies of grapplers ever put together. Unfortunately Dean Lister had to step down from the event as he was still recovering from his war with Jason Flynn at King of the Cage (Dean was still present at the event however to coach his team), and Matt Hughes stepped down to compete at the Advanced Middleweight class in preparation for his upcoming UFC title defense vs. “Mach” Sakurai. Stepping up to bat was “Judo” Marc Kompaneyets, sporting a brand new Black Belt awarded to him by Marcus Vinicious of Beverly Hills Jiu-Jitsu and Justin Ellison, Walt Bayless/Mark Schulz Black Belt. This created the brackets of Cameron Earle vs. Judo Marc, Javier Vasquez of Millenia Jiu-Jitsu vs. Ahmad Reese of Team Freedom, David Terell, Cesar Gracie Brown Belt vs. Bobby Southworth, American Kickboxing Academy and PrideVeteran and finally Todd Margolis of Team Tribe Fightware vs. Justin Ellison. Eddy Rolon vs. Edwin “Babyface Dewees” for the alternate shot. Cameron dominated Judo Marc 16-0 before getting a tapout via calf slicer in the final seconds. Javier, the lightest competitor in the field proved why many consider him among the slickest mat technicians today as he out pointed Ahmad. David Terrell out positioned Bobby to win his opening match and Todd Margolis showed some extremely impressive takedowns against Justin in a technical war. Eddie Rolon defeated Edwin Dewes in the alternate matchup in one of the most back and forth battles I’ve ever witnessed. In the semi-finals a game but obviously exhausted Javier proved to match up badly against Cameron, who secured the win via a rear-naked choke, and Todd missed a takedown attempt against David, who quickly secured the tapout via foot lock in under a minute. That footlock injured Todd, who had to withdraw from the 3rd place match, allowing Javier to score a lightening quick takedown and foot submission on Eddy Rolon. This set the stage for Cameron Earle vs David Terrell in the finals. Both had looked unstoppable in the preliminary matches, but today was to be David’s day. Although Cameron did try a few sweeps and submissions, Dave quickly got out of danger and when Cameron made a rare mistake of sticking his head out Dave quickly took advantage of it and secured the 10 finger guillotine causing Cameron to tap out for the first time in his career. Big congrats to Dave, who roars back unto the competition scene in the most impressive way possible, Watch out for Dave Terrell in the future in both the grappling and MMA scene. Cameron, as the second smallest competitor and in only his second no-gi competition was very impressive as well. The regular competiton had a ton of highlights as well. Matt Hughes won the advanced Middleweight division, defeating IFC vet and leglock master Val Ignatov in an exciting match, barely getting by Ralph Gracie standout Luke Stewart in overtime, and armlocking(?!?) James Kelly in the finals (“Mach” Sakurai better watch out if Matt continues this tear into the UFC!) Meanwhile, in the Advanced Cruiserweight division Matt’s identical twin brother Mark Hughes was submitted by Jamie Cruz of Renzo Gracie, but the division belonged to Roy Nelson of J-Sect, who also took home the most technical fighter award. Afterwards it was time to relax and party. The after party started at the Beach nightclub where I got the chance to meet and hang out with many of the competitors, fighters, promoters, etcâ€¦After an indeterminate amount of beverages we made it over to the Hard Rock casino with some new found friends (I looove Vegas!) Sometime as the sun came up we made it back to the hotel rooms, only for it to be time to go (another 542 miles to home, plus the 400 mile round trip to return the rental car!) I can’t wait until the next trip to Las Vegas, or for the Grappler’s Quest.