Grappling All-Stars create a “buzz” in the Beehive State

The event as a whole attracted hundreds of top competitors from all over the west coast, as well as Brazil and Hawaii.On September 9, 2006 the American Grappling Games (, promoted by tournament director Dave Johnson, hosted a stellar submission grappling competition and tournament in West Valley City, Utah, which was highlighted by the Aggro open-weight tournament. The tournament took place at the E-Center which is the same facility that hosted the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics’ hockey, figure skating, and ice dancing competitions. This 10,207 seat arena, which is currently home to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, provided spacious stadium-style seating for everyone in attendance.

The event as a whole attracted hundreds of top competitors from all over the west coast, as well as Brazil and Hawaii. The early-bird weigh-ins which took place the night before made the weigh-in and registration process go by quickly and hassle-free. The most impressive thing about the event organizers was the fact that they hosted this event with hardly any sponsorship or financial help. They were able to secure this huge facility, attract top-level competition, film each match for DVD’s, provide top-notch medals and samurai swords to the winners of each division, as well as offer around $3,000 for the open-weight Aggro tournament, where each submission win equaled an extra $100.

The event was also hoping to feature two submission grappling super-fights. The first was going to be between former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir and the only man to have pinned Brock Lesnar in a collegiate wrestling match Dave Anderton. Unfortunately, Frank Mir just suffered an eye laceration while training and was not able to compete. The second super-fight was between two of the youngest and skilled American black belts, local favorite Ricky Lundell (Pedro Sauer) and fan favorite Jeff Glover (Franjinha Miller). This match proved to be very competitive with both grapplers showing great composure and determination to win, Lundell defeated Glover 6-2 and hopefully we’ll be able to see these two super-stars go at it again in the near future.

The $3,000 Aggro tournament attracted top level grapplers from all over the globe, including the UFC’s #1 heavyweight contender Jeff Monson, 2-time NCAA wrestling All-American/MMA veteran Dave Anderton, The Ultimate Fighter’s Mike Whitehead, Paragon/Cobra Kai’s Jeff Glover, Marc Laimon/Cobra Kai’s Scott Bieri, Mica Cipilli’s Blas Avena, Mica black belt Walter Vital, 450lb. Mica brown belt Sergio Farnes, local MMA stand out Kyacey Uscola, Jeremy Horn’s protégé Jeremy Peterson, and many more top level guys aiming for the $2,000+ first place prize that was sweetened by the added incentive of $100 per submission victory. This 16-man tournament was started off by randomly matching these highly skilled athletes ranging in weights anywhere from 145 lbs. (Jeff Glover) to 450 lbs. (Sergio Farnes) with just about every weight bracket in between represented admirably. The Agrro tournament matches were 6 minutes long, with two matches taking place simultaneously on two mats. It was hard to keep a play-by-play for every match, but here are some of the highlights from the most exciting matches of the tournament!

Jeff Monson (220 lbs.) vs. Walter Vital (200 lbs.)

Jeff and Walter started things off. Jeff seemed to play this very smart by playing a takedown game and secured a double leg to go up 2 x 0. After passing Walter’s guard, Walter rolled to his knees to prevent the points. Jeff went to place a knee on Walter’s left arm to set up what appeared to be his patented north-south choke, but Walter rolled out and the both got back to their feet. Once tied up in a clinch, Jeff seemed content on letting Walter push the action since he did not feel he was in danger of being taken down. Then with under a minute to go in the match, Jeff secured another double-leg takedown to seal his first round victory 4 x 0.

Dave Anderton (250 lbs.) vs. Sergio Farnes (450 lbs.)

This match featured the two largest competitors in the tournament, totaling nearly 700 lbs. of grappling fury! This quickly turned into a stand up war, as both grapplers were busy looking for under-hooks from the clinch. They circled each other, pawing at each other for the entirety of the regulation period with neither grappler really feeling like they were ever in danger of being taken down. As the sudden death (first point wins) over time period began, both grapplers picked up where they left off by circling for a takedown. That is when Dave Anderton quickly shot in and with a growl, executed a flawless Greco-Roman hip throw that sent the 450 lb. Farnes threw the air and on his back, which made the crowd erupt with cheers of shock and admiration for such a technical throw on a much larger opponent.

Jeff Glover (145 lbs.) vs. Blas Avena (185 lbs.)

This featured one of the most electrifying athletes in sports entertainment Jeff Glover and one of the most genetically gifted athletes in the tournament in Blas Avena. Giving up around 40 lbs. of muscle mass Jeff quickly tried for a flying guillotine. After Blas stuffed the attempt, Jeff pulled guard and went for another guillotine. As Blas defended, Jeff swept him and passed his guard to gain 5 points. From side control, Jeff took Blas’ back and got the hooks in for a 9 x 0 advantage. As Blas defended the rear naked choke, Jeff mounted him and sunk a deep mounted triangle for the impressive submission victory.

Scott Bieri (155 lbs.) vs. Kyacey Uscola (195 lbs.)

This match featured one of Marc Laimon’s most technically gifted students Scott Bieri, who had already won his advanced welterweight division against one of Salt Lake City’s most decorated mixed martial artists in Kyacey Uscola. The hometown crowd was expecting Uscola to make quick work of the much smaller Bieri as he had done to his first opponent to earn himself a birth in the Final Four. However, Bieri had other plans in mind, as he already dismantled his first opponent of the tournament (also a 190 pounder) in dominating fashion 16 x 0. As the two touched hands to start the match Uscola, who appeared chiseled out of stone, seemingly dwarfed Bieri. That is why Bieri comfortably pulled Uscola into his butterfly guard and began looking for sweeps. As the match progressed Uscola seemed confused and frustrated with Bieri’s active butterfly guard, never really daring a pass, as Bieri rode his right leg high on Uscola’s left shoulder at one point looking to secure an omoplata. As Uscola muscled his way out of danger, Bieri shot a triangle and nearly sunk it, before an explosive scramble freed Uscola from any danger. After trying to secure a headlock from the top of Bieri’s half guard, both grapplers rolled out of bounce and had to be centered up, which actually benefited Uscola as it appeared Bieri was about to take his back. As time began to wind down, Bieri used his half guard game to perfection, working his way underneath Uscola to a 90 degree angle, securing a leg and reversing the position for a flawless half guard sweep and went on to win 2 x 0.

Jeff Monson (220 lbs.) vs. Dave Anderton (250 lbs.)

This appeared on paper a match that would most likely turn into a stand up war, as Monson wrestled at the University of Illinois and Anderton wrestled at Oklahoma State University. The match started off as expected with both men tying-up while looking for the takedown. However, with Marc Laimon in his corner, Monson took Laimon’s very vocal advice by surprising Anderton with his dynamic yet unheralded half-guard game. As Monson pulled Anderton into his half-guard, Anderton began looking around a bit confused as this was probably the last thing he expected Monson to do. Monson quickly transitioned into a small man’s game and swept Anderton with a picture perfect sweep from half-guard and ended up on top with full side control after passing his guard with ease during the transition to go up in points 5 x 0. From there Anderton tried to quickly scramble and Monson took his back. Anderton tried to turtle with Monson on his back looking for both hooks, but then ended up lunging forward as what appeared to be intentionally trying to spike Monson on his head, which was illegal. After giving Monson a moment to clear the cobwebs, they started back in the same position as time ran out.

Final Four

Mike Whitehead (220 lbs.) vs. Jeff Glover (145 lbs.)

This match featured Mike Whitehead from The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 who currently trains locally in Salt Lake City with Jeremy Horn and the 145 lb. giant killer Jeff Glover whom had submitted his three previous (much larger) opponents via triangle, guillotine, and rear naked choke. This match also featured the greatest weight difference of the tournament as Marc Laimon was quick to yell out, “Don’t let him goon you, Jeff!” Glover quickly pulled guard as the match began and Whitehead seemed content on putting all of his weight on Glover to prevent him from working anymore magic. Whitehead methodically worked a guard pass gaining a valuable 3 x 0 advantage. Glover never gave up though, eventually working his way back to half-guard, where Whitehead essentially sat on him, preventing Glover from getting underneath him for any potential sweeps. The match wound down with Glover squirming and Whitehead smothering, sending Whitehead to the finals with the 3 x 0 victory.

Jeff Monson (220 lbs.) vs. Scott Bieri (155 lbs.)

This was by far was the most entertaining match of the tournament, as it pitted the UFC’s #1 heavyweight contender, ADCC world champion, NCAA wrestler, and American Top Team black belt Jeff Monson, against Marc Laimon’s 155 lb. protégé Scott Bieri. To everyone’s surprise and entertainment, Bieri came out as the aggressor, shooting in on Monson for a takedown which had everyone stand in surprise. Monson easily defended as Bieri continued to scoot around the mats, darting in and out with catlike speed looking for any opening, which Monson was not giving him. Monson then matched Bieri’s pace and secured a double-leg takedown to go up 2 x 0. From the butterfly guard, Bieri attempted a triangle, which was quickly stuffed. Monson then began a smooth guard pass to Bieri’s half-guard. Never really seeming hurried to do anything; Monson slowed the pace down, and finished passing Bieri’s half-guard for 3 more points. From there Monson held Bieri in side control until time ran to earn a spot in the finals against Whitehead.


Jeff Monson (220 lbs.) vs. Mike Whitehead (220 lbs.)

The final championship match of the Aggro tournament pitted Jeff Monson and Mike Whitehead against one another. These two men both have very decorated careers and it would prove to be an interesting match-up. Mike Whitehead wrestled in college at the University of Missouri, started training in MMA with Pat Miletich as part of the Miletich Fighting Systems camp, and then was the unofficial assistant coach of Team Hughes on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, being hailed as the next Fedor Emelianenko by both Matt Hughes and UFC president Dana White. Though Mike would go on to lose to eventual TUF champion Rashad Evans, he still holds a very impressive MMA record and grappling career. Jeff Monson has also been on the grappling scene for years. He wrestled in college at the University of Illinois and then won the ADCC championship, which is essentially the world cup of submission grappling, as only a blue belt. He is now a black belt member of American Top Team, has been successful in just about every major submission grappling tournament in the world, holds an impressive amateur boxing career, and currently holds a string of 16 consecutive wins in MMA which makes him the UFC’s #1 contender for Tim Sylvia’s UFC Heavyweight belt, which he will be fighting Sylvia for in November at UFC 65.

The match started out as what would turn out to be a battle of attrition from the feet, as both grapplers seemed content on feeling each other out on their feet and from the clinch, exchanging tie-ups and double leg attempts for the entire 6 minute regulation period. They were each given two minutes to rest before the start of the 6 minute sudden death over-time, where the first point scored would determine the winner. As the first over-time began, Monson quickly shot in for a double-leg takedown only to have Whitehead stuff it and control his head, as Monson worked from all fours, where Monson again listened to Laimon and pulled half-guard. From there Whitehead jumped out wanting nothing to do with it, since even a sweep at this point would end the match. At this point Whitehead took his shirt off, only to hear the crowd whistle at him mockingly as the first over-time came to a close. After resting for two minutes both Monson and Whitehead wasted no time at the start of the second over-time picking up where they left off by tentatively feeling each other out and stuffing each other shot attempts. The second over-time never went to the ground as both men continued looking for the takedown points. As the second round came to a close, the only thing the crowd had to get excited about was the fact that Whitehead let out a tremendous fart as the round ended. Before the third over-time began, the mats had to be toweled down from the sweat these two men were drenched in. That is when Monson decided to put a t-shirt on for the first time. From the corner, Laimon yelled to Monson to be confident in his half-guard skills and Monson quickly jumped to half-guard and secured Whitehead’s left leg. From there Whitehead tried to claim he had an advantage for being on top, when it was quickly explained to him that sudden death over-time is decided by the first point scored not the first advantage. Monson calmly held onto Whitehead’s leg from half-guard and rolled him with the same half-guard sweep he had swept Anderton with. The sweep put Whitehead square on his back and Monson stood up, while still controlling his left leg for good measure to end the match. This match, though long and tedious to some, truly showed how well-rounded Jeff Monson’s jiu-jitsu has gotten. Once known as a dynamic top player with great takedowns, he was able to utilize little man jiu-jitsu from the bottom to sweep and defeat both Dave Anderton and Mike Whitehead, two of the toughest and most talented wrestlers on the submission grappling circuit.

The Aggro tournament as a whole was a success with the tournaments “sickest submission” award going to Jeff Glover for his mounted triangle choke over the much larger Blas Avena in the opening round of the Aggro tournament. Other notable matches in the advanced divisions, included Simpson Go (Marc Laimon)’s quick submission win over a very tough opponent out of Jeremy Horn’s camp. As Sim’s opponent pulled guard, Sim passed and quickly took his back, transitioned into a straight armbar, and finished with a triangle. Ulysses Gomez (Marc Laimon) faced a very talented black belt from Nova Uniao in Ricardo Barros, who was visiting from Brazil. After Ricardo pulled guard, Uly passed his guard, and took Ricardo’s back. From there Uly transitioned from a typical rear naked choke with the hooks in to a hybrid crucifix/rear naked choke where he figure-foured Ricardo’s right arm with his legs. Uly’s submission got so deep, so fast, that he put Ricardo to sleep in a matter of seconds after securing the submission hold. Sonny Nohara (Marc Laimon) also won his match against Ricardo Barros (Nova Uniao), after passing his butterfly guard and securing a rear naked choke in about 2 and a half minutes into the match.

As a final added note to everyone involved in the sport, Dave Johnson and the rest of the Aggro tournament’s staff, hosted this event at the Greater Salt Lake City’s E-Center with little to no financial support or sponsorships. The low cost entry fees ($25), top level competition, first-rate medals and prize money combined with its event’s efficiency and local radio support will only get bigger and better with future financial support and sponsorships that will enable more top level referees and competitors to participate. The tournament was still an overall success, as On The Mat along with the American Grappling Games definitely look forward to hosting further submission grappling, jiu-jitsu, and mixed martial arts promotions and tournaments in the state of Utah, as well as the rest of the Rocky Mountain region, again in the very near future!

Sickest Submission: Jeff Glover

UFC Ticket Winner Jesus Nava (mori Acadamy)———————————————————— —————————-Superfight : Lundell def Glover 6-2

Absolute: Champion – Jeff Monson, Runner up Mike Whitehead———————————————————— —————————–Beg Light weight1st Ryne Shofield (Northern Connection)2nd Roger Reyes (West side JJ)3rd Markus Jackson (Mori)

Beg Welter1st Gerrit Greer (Pedro sauer) 2nd Greg Savelio (Cobra Kai)3rd Taylor Spalding (idaho ringworms)

Beg Middle1st Brian Blakely (Elite)2nd Ethan Zoller (fusion)3rd Cody Ucly (west side)

Beg Light Heavy1st Couret Mcgee (Northern Connection)2nd Scott Blake (Pedro Sauer)3rd John Juadines

Beg Heavy1st Alex Cetina (Team Mica)2nd N/A3rd N/A

Beg Superheavy1st James Horne (Cobra Kai)2nd Ryan Williams (absolute)3rd Rhett Morehouse (Elite)

Intermediate Light1st Jesus Nava (Mori)2nd Thad Nebeker (Idaho Ringworm)3rd Cesar Sklavos (Idaho Ringworm)

Intermediate Welter1st Bill Pate2nd Birdsley3rd Herule (Cobra Kai)

Intermediate Middle1st Chris vincent (tied w/ first – Cobra Kai)2nd Mike Cody (tied w/ first – Cobra Kai)3rd Sterling Niitsuma (Bima)

Intermediate Light Heavy1st Chris Lyon (Cobra Kai)2nd Tad Legas (Pedro Sauer)3rd Justin Sessions (Machado Spokane)

Intermediate Heavy1st N/A2nd N/A3rd N/A

Intermediate Super Heavy1st James Horne (Cobra Kai)2nd Tikio Savelio (Cobra Kai)3rd N/A

Advanced Light1st Sonny Noharo (Cobra Kai)2nd Sim Go (Cobra Kai)3rd Ulysses Gomez (Cobra Kai)

Advanced Welter1st Scott Bieri (Cobra Kai)2nd Dayne Aristizabal (Pedro Sauer)3rd Sean O’Donnel (Pedro Sauer)

Advanced Middle1st Bill Jones (Cobra Kai)2nd Mike Bland (LVCC)3rd N/A

Advanced Light Heavy1st Walter Vital (Mica)2nd Johny Faria (Mica)3rd Blas Avina (Mica)

Advanced Heavy1st Curtis Yergensen (Idaho Ringworms)2nd Robert Garrets (Cobra Kai) 3rd Jeremy Peterson (Elite)

Advanced Super Heavy1st Noah Jenkins (Fusion)2nd N/A3rd N/A

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