Set for July 17 (Saturday) in Southampton, England, and streamed via UFC FightPass is another edition of the Polaris Invitational, one of Europe’s prime professional grappling shows. The promotion will be featuring its 3rd event under the Squads format, a novel Team X Team set-up with a very particular set of rules (more on that here).
Once again the Squads theme will feature a selection of the top grapplers in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland – a motto revisited from the previous 2 shows – who will battle against Team USA in a sequence of No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu matches (submission-only).
Although Team UK + IRE are coming in as the unofficial Polaris Squads No-Gi Champions, (since they beat the European Team at the show’s inaugural event,) do not expect this British Isles conglomerate to be leading in favoritism this time around. That ball will undoubtedly be well on Team USA’s court.
Leading Team USA will be BJJ veteran JT Torres, one of America’s most accomplished athletes of all time with 2 ADCC titles, 2 Pan American gold medals, as well as championships at the No-Gi Worlds and No-Gi Pans. Another interesting stat is that Torres has not conceded a single point since the IBJJF World Championships in 2018 (not that there is a point system in place at Polaris).
Torres will be joined by a real Who-Is-Who of modern-day grappling, with figures such as the William Tackett and Kade Ruotolo – arguably two of the finest athletes the new generation has to offer, as well as Rômulo Barral’s top student, Edwin Najmi, 10th Planet stylists Richie Martinez and Jon Blank and another 10P representative who brings his own brand of exciting jiu-jitsu, Mr. PJ Barch. Last but not least, Team USA will feature Matt Serra’s black belt and sub-only specialist Nick Ronan.
This interesting mix of world-class submission-only stars and IBJJF (point-based) style players of Team USA will have in Ross Nicholls its most dangerous opponent. Team UK’s Nicholls is highly underrated at a world level, given his lack of experience abroad, but should be included among the best submission artists in Europe and possibly the world.
Team UK & IRE will feature a solid lineup where the aforementioned Nicholls stands out along with squad captain Darragh O’Conaill, Ash Williams, and Tom Halpin. All of which have been tried and tested at the highest level of grappling. The hometown workgroup will also have Daniel Strauss, Ben Dyson, Bradley Hill, and Kieran Davern, who may have fewer accolades at the upper echelon of the sport when compared to their peers, but are highly competitive athletes.
Given the nature of the event, the team with the most submission victories will take home the Polaris Squads 3 grand prize. Both teams have strong sides, but there is definitely disparity when assessing the Killer Instinct of each squad. Team USA will have William Tackett, JT Torres, PJ Barch, Jon Blank, and Richie “Boogeyman” as real submission artists with a track record of submissions at the highest level in our sport, whereas Team UK will have in Ashley Williams and Darragh O’Conaill the more proven talent, albeit, with Ross Nicholls expected to fair well in this format.
TEAM UK AND IRELAND
Under 95 Kilograms
– Daniel Strauss
– Ben Dyson
– Bradley Hill
– Kieran Davern