Well known as the biggest online training providers in the jiu-jitsu world, BJJ Fanatics will be back to their most recent successful venture – the production of professional grappling events, the newest of which will take place on February 29.
After two very successful shows last year, brand leaders Michael Zenga and Bernardo Faria have continued to think outside the box, bringing us an unconventional, yet highly intriguing main event between 2019 ADCC double gold medal placer Gordon Ryan and All American wrestling standout Patrick (Pat) Downey. The card will also offer a fantastic 170 lbs tournament featuring some of the best lightweights in the jiu-jitsu world.
Further analysis of the card below.
Date: February 29, 2020
Watch at: fite.tv (click here)
Lightweigt / Welterweight Gp Line-Up
Maybe not as well known among the submission-only crowd is Johnny Tama, who is, on paper, the most accomplished athlete in the roster. Even though the majority of Tama’s career has been done wearing the gi, last year the Equatorian athlete won the IBJJF No-Gi World Championship title, a time in which he also became the first Hispanic athlete to conquer a gold medal at the IBJJF worlds in the adult black belt division. Johnny is well known for his offense driven, crowd-pleasing jiu-jitsu style and for his “Tama-lock”, his variation of the Estima-lock. A very solid competitor overall, very scrappy and dangerous from all angles.
Only God, John Danaher, and Firas Zahabi know why Taza is still competing as a brown belt, but he is. A super talent with tons of international experience, including at the ADCC World Championships (twice!), and wins over big names of the sport such as Mathew Tesla, Darragh O’Connail, Ross Nicholls, Lachlan Giles, and more, Taza is a very complete athlete, particularly in the leg-locking department.
A fresh new talent hailing from the Brazilian Fight Factory in Texas is black belt Kody Steele, who is well accustomed to submission-only. Steele will have in his training camp athletes such as William and Andrew Tacket as well as his coach Rodrigo Cabral and is the current Combat EBI champion.
Solid wrestling, great leg-locking defense, powerful passer, Steele has tons of potential here and may very well be the dark horse in this race.
Much like Taza, Crelinsten’s brown belt status is one of the big grappling mysteries of 2020. Also with experience at the ADCC World Championships is the Canadian, who has conquered the North American ADCC trials on 2 occasions, having also countless other wins in the sport’s professional circuit.
A tremendous back taker, with plenty of foot locking flair, Ethan does tend to compete in the 145 lbs weight class, and this size difference could prove to be too big of a handicap to sustain, particularly if his matches go to overtime (EBI rules), where a large size difference will likely work against the Danaher/Zahabi protege.
A BJJ globetrotter is Matheus Gonzaga, who has trained in a number of high-level schools such as GF Team, Alliance and more recently, Atos.
Gonzaga’s talent is undeniable, truly a masterful athlete, though his career has run Hot-and-Cold since arriving in the black belt scene two years ago. Matheus is currently training at the Atos Headquarters in San Diego and is said to be very committed to fulfilling his full potential and launching his career to higher ground, where he belongs. Against Gonzaga on game day will be his size disadvantage, given that he is traditionally a featherweight athlete. None the less, expect a great show from this young competitor.
Team: Easton Training Centre
There is never a dull moment when John Combs is on the mat. This neck grabbing scrambler will be one of the largest athletes on the mats when the action starts and is expected to do very well under this ruleset.
We have alluded to Combs’ potential in the grappling world in the past. John has the wrestling pedigree, great instincts, is very powerful in this weight class and gathered plenty of experience over this past couple of years on the pro-circuit, to make an impact in the division. His Achilles heel has indeed been, his heel defense, an area we are sure he’s been eagerly developing at the gym. Keep your eyes on John, he should be a real challenge to the podium here.
Team: 10th Planet
Much like Combs, you can always count on PJ Barch for high-level grappling entertainment. Very dynamic, good from top and bottom, awesome wrestling and a forward-moving mentality have built Barch as one of the prime competitors from the 10th Planet team.
Alongside Combs, Barch should be one of the largest competitors on the roster. He will also have vastly more experience under the EBI ruleset, a process that is strongly embedded in the 10P training system. Given PJ’s versatility, size and experience, you would be hard-pressed to find a stronger candidate to the podium.
A big star in the making is Jonnatas Gracie, who is just dipping his toes in this black belt division. Gracie made big waves back in 2016 at the ADCC Brazilian Trials in São Paulo by beating a few black belts at the tournament — Jonnatas being a blue belt at the time.
Formerly with Guigo JJ, Gracie’s performances in the São Paulo circuit earned him an invitation to come and train with André Galvão at the Atos HQ. This change propelled the young talent into the sport’s spotlight with repeated wins at the IBJJF World Championship.
Much is expected from the young Brazilian competitor and this BJJ Fanatics tournament will be a great test to his abilities, even though submission-only is not one of Jonnata’s specialties.
GORDON RYAN VS PAT DOWNEY
– 2 match (1 match under freestyle wrestling rules, 1 match in submission-only rules).
No stranger to meeting submission grapplers is Downey who competed against Gordon’s team-mate, Nick Rodriguez last year in a one-sided wrestling match won by Pat, who gave out a solid 40 lbs weight advantage to the Renzo Gracie Academy representative.
We do not follow American wrestling here at BJJ Heroes and don’t know too much about Patrick’s accolades, however, judging by that showing at the Who’s #1superfight last year, we do not expect a different outcome in the wrestling department for Ryan. Downey made Rodriguez look slow (which is no easy feat) and considering Gordon tends to have a weaker standing posture and, generally speaking, is considerably slower than Rod, this might be a tough ride for the New Jersey submission star.
The good news for Ryan is, he gets to meet the Iowa State wrestler on his turf, on the same day. If we can expect Patrick to be leagues ahead of Gordon standing, we can certainly expect Ryan to be on a galaxy far, far away from Downey when it comes to groundwork. Expect Pat to be wearing his running shoes for this one, because if he chooses to engage with King Gordon, it may very well be a quick main event.
Ryan/Downey Match #1: BJJ – NO gi – NO time limit – Submission only
Ryan/Downey Match #2: Freestyle Wrestling under International Wrestling Rules
Jonnatas Gracie vs Johnny Tama
Kody Steele vs Oliver Taza
John Combs vs Matheus Gonzaga
PJ Barch vs Ethan Crelinsten
Winner of Fight 1 vs Winner of Fight 2
Winner of Fight 3 vs Winner of Fight 4
Winner of Fight 5 vs Winner of Fight 6
The Loser of Fight 5 vs Loser of fight 6
* Fight Card subject to change