Charles, Ralph and their crew did a great job. The event ran great and it ran on time. They ran a computerized bracketing system that was awesome. I was a little worried when I talked to Charles Gracie about the third annual United Gracie Jiu Jitsu championships just weeks before the event. When he told me they had 480 people registered already registered for the one day event I was a little worried it was going to run all day long and maybe in to the night. Charles assured me that they would run six mats all day and they would be done no later than 7:00pm. Then I though I had heard it all. When he told me he didn`t need any help. I think I have a right to be skeptical about tournaments I been to a lot of them and the last time I heard six mats done by seven I was there till 2 am. I got off the phone and prepared myself for a long day.
When prepared for the worst nothing makes you feel better than the exact opposite occurs! Charles, Ralph and their crew did a great job. The event ran great and it ran on time. They ran a computerized bracketing system that was awesome. At any time you could look at your assigned ring and get a general idea with in 5 or 10 minutes when you were going to fight. This took so much stress off everyone at the event it changed the dynamic of the whole event. They even took a lunch break for 1/2 an hour and came back right on time. I can`t say enough about how well their system worked. It allowed me to fight in the event, work at the event and cover it too. All stress free.
The kids started it off early and there were a lot of them. It is great to see a lot of kids pushing the growth of the sport and that many of them have been at it for a while. There were a lot of yellow belts competing. Including Charles Gracie`s son who looked great and fought very well. After the kids were all done the bracketing system kicked in and the fights ran all day. Some high lights from the event were all the MMA fighters who fought. Cole Escovido, John Fitch and Nick Dias all three fought and all three won their divisions. Cole submitted all his opponents and closed the bracket with his teammate Greg Asbury. John Fitch proved to be a monster with his takedowns and showed his gi skills are good too with a nice arm lockin one match and a choke in another. He went on to take first place. Nick Dias hot off his UFC win fought four tough fights to take first defeating a very tough Harald Utterback in the finals. Adam Provence won the purple belt Unlimited division and took second in Absolute loosing to a much smaller Jimmy Jarquin from Ralph Gracie, which was a very exciting match up. Also in the purple belts Don Geddis of BJJ.org fame took first place in the Feather weight division. I fought two fights submitting both guys in the masters light weight division. Asa Fuller from Cleber Jiu Jitsu won both his division and the open in the masters as well.
I have to apologize to the women here, with six mats running full time I missed many of your matches. I did catch Kelly Paul in action and she fought really well taking first in the Featherweight division.
In the brown belt division Luke Stewart submitted his opponent for first place with a very technical arm lock on Flavio Machado. Mikyo Riggs from Ralph Gracie submitted his first opponent and won in the finals on points against Kim Morishita. Morishita had Riggs in a leg lock at one point but Riggs was able to pull out of it. Yugi Uchida showed up to fight in the feather division but when his opponent didn`t show up he wasted no time and jumped right in to the Open division. Luke Stewart from Ralph Gracie also fought in the open division and these two teammates were looking to close out the division. Yugi must have drawn the small straw because he ended up fighting an opponent twice his size. Never a man to back down from a fight this was a not stop action packed match were Yugi almost subbed his opponent twice and won on points to close the bracket with Luke his teammate on the other side. In the Brown Belt masters lightweight division Gustavo Enriquez defeated a very tough John Shibonis.
There was some real talent in the black belt divisions. The first fight was between Daniel Coyote and Ben Zara from Ralph Gracie. This was an awesome match full of excitement. It was by far the most exciting match of all the super fights. Ben is an accomplished black belt in Judo and he wasted no time in putting his skills to use. Ben faked an inside trip and threw Coyote with a drop knee seo-nagi. He landed right on to his head then Ben went straight to his back and started working a choke. The referee then pulled them back in the ring where Coyote did his best to fight of Ben. Ben finished from the back to win.
The Second match was between Alex Crispim of Ralph Gracie and Megaton Diaz from Megaton Jiu Jitsu in Phoenix Arizona. This match was a battle of styles and it played right in to Crispim`s game. Cripiim is a long time student of Gordo the inventor of the 1/2 guard. Crispim wasted no time getting to his guard since Megaton is known for his top game and judo. The match played out her for a while Crispim worked feverishly on Megatons left arm but didn`t make any progress. Megaton open Cripim`s guard but was now in 1/2 guard Crispim`s specialty they fought there for a while till Crispim set up a beautiful sweep and levitated him all the way over flat on his back. The fighters then both stood up with and restarted standing where Crispim pulled full guard again then moved to 1/2 guard where he tried to sweep megaton again with a single leg sweep. Megaton`s base proved to be strong and they fell back in the 1/2 guard with Megaton battling to pass full force. But,Crispim would not let him have it. The match ended with Megaton on top but Cripim with the points.
The third match was Joao Cunha against Rodrigo Texeira. Texeira pulled guard right off the bat and managed to off balance Joao for a good sweep and two quick points. He almost managed to mount but Joao pushed him back and in to 1/2 guard where he swept for two points of his own. Joao fought like a pit bull to pass but couldn`t quite get there. He tired out a little and Texeira shut his guard. Joao at one point tried a cross choke from the 1/2 guard but this only opened him up to almost get swept they eventually rolled out of bounce and started standing again. After a few take down attempts Texeira pulled guard again where the match ended with Joao a head on advantages taking the win.
Val Cubales the local home town favorite from Charles Gracie for Renato Migliaccio a student of Ryan Gracie`s who now teaches in Orange County fought a tough battle that had the whole crowd in hysteria. Val pulled guard almost immediately but Renato stood up in base quickly and open Val`s guard and started passing to the left. Renato eventually passed and Val exposited his back. Renato stayed tight and with some work got both hooks in and worked to choke Val. Val show some great heart and good defense. He avoided the coke and kept moving making it hard for Renato to set anything up. Val eventually escaped as time was running out and the last minute of the match Renato tried to pass Val`s guard. Renato took the win on points.
Fabio Santos never backs down from a chance to get on the mat. He stepped up to match up against Michael ‘El Toro’ in a tough ten-minute battle. Fabio pulled guard and started working him game right from the start. He is know for having an attacking guard and he used a lot of it in this match. He has a few triangles set up on El Toro but was never able to finish them. Fabio won the match on advantages for his attacking.
The super fight of all super fight was the two world champions Rafeal Gordinho who won the worlds fighting two weight classes up and is also a multiple time Pan Am champion stepped up to fight last years World Cup and Mundial champion Casio Werneck. Casio is known for his power basics and Gordinho for his hip movement. Casio started out by jumping open guard and sucking Gordinho in where he managed to sweep for two points. Gordihno was able to quickly hipout to the side of Casio and triangle his legs around Casios legs pinning them shut. He then rotated his hips around and came on top almost mounted. Casio was able to feed Gordihno`s collar over his back and tot he opposite side. Gordinho surfed Casios butter fly guard keeping a lot of pressure by triangling his legs and locking up the hips. Casio pushed Gordiho back and kept working to sweep. It was back and forth from there both fighters working hard to score. Just as Gordihno was mounting Casio gave a big umpa and took the top for two points. The match end there with Casio on top and Gordinho in his guard. Casio won the match four to two.
I really have to take my hat off to Ralph, Charles, Rob & Kathy Henderson, and the rest of the United Gracie crew for pulling of the single best-organized jiu jitsu tournament I have ever been too. Their system is the future of the sport. The event ran beautiful and we are really looking for ward to the upcoming United Gracie No-gi event in September and of course next years United Gracie IV. Thanks to everyone involved with the event and all the fighters and sponsors!