7/20/02 What happens when you have a bunch of NHB fighters throw a grappling tournament?
What happens when you have a bunch of NHB fighters throw a grappling tournament? Surprisingly enough, you get a fairly smoothly run tournament. About 150 competitors showed up to Golden West College in Huntington Beach to participate in the first Tito Ortiz Invitational. At times there was a definite fly by the eat of your pants feel to the tournament, but the obvious main concerns were safety and sportsmanship. The rules were a bit unique in that there were no advantages given during the tournament and that participants were very quickly pulled back to the center of the mat when they went out of bounds (in the same position there were, including submission holds). The lack of advantages seemed to hurt the aggressive competitor, however the referees (particularly event organizer Paul Herrera and Bobby "Five Miles to Freedom" Gamboa) did a good job of keeping things moving and fair. The regular tournament saw quite a bit of action. The divisions were divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced. Notably Antonio McKee won the advanced 160 lbs division and our good friend Scott "Heart Attack Kid" fought up a weight class to advanced173 and submitted both of his opponents, including UFC vet Zach Light. There was plenty of great action in the lower divisions as well as the children`s division. Ricco Rodriguez defeated Scary Jerry in the super fight by knee bar in about two and a half minutes. Or so I`m told. The fight wasn`t announced and I was literally in the bathroom at the time of the match. The absolute tournament saw two Team Punishment members in the final as Jason Miller fought Rick (?) Unlike many events where teammates might bow out or throw a fight, these two went at like they do every day at the academy from what I`m told. Jason Miller wins by submission and becomes the absolute champion. As promised there were quite a few celebrities in attendance and participating in the event, aside from obviously Tito Ortiz and Paul Herrera, the aforementioned Ricco Rodriguez, Chuck Liddell, Quentin "Rampage" Jackson (who provided insightful commentary the entire day) Carlos Newton, Chris Brennan, Marc Laimon, Larry Landless and Fabiano Iha. Lots of autographs signed and happy fans in attendance. Afterwards I hung out in downtown Huntington Beach, then went to some large club I can`t remember the name of (the F****`ers had the audacity to fire my friend that night). Ah well, another day, another adventure. Definitely would recommend checking out the next tournament.