NOVEMBER 30, 2019 was the date set for the 12th edition of the Polaris Jiu-Jitsu Invitational, an event that has become a synonym of grappling entertainment since 2015. The event featured some of Europe’s most prominent grappling stars mixed in with other world-leading athletes, almost like a Europe x Rest of the World type scenario, with the main event – Nick Rodriguez vs Luke Rockhold being the only exception. Below is a description of the event’s action.
International Convention Centre Wales
PJ BARCH def. MARCIN HELD by split decision
Welterweight (77.1 kg) NOGI
We had the 10th Planet athlete, PJ Barch as a clear favorite in this heck of a match-up, but Poland’s prime MMA competitor Marcil Held proved to be quite a challenge for the American.
Barch started out better, imposing his pace and threatening with a guillotine from a double leg shot by Marcin, Held defended and was forced to pull guard. PJ pressed on the gas from early on, but Marcin met him half-way, himself imposing a tremendous pace on the match which seemed to wear Barch out a little by the end of the bout.
Very even fight with a slight edge for the American for getting closer to the finish in his submission attempts. There were plenty of Fight Of The Night candidates at P12, and this was one of them.
DEVHONTE JOHNSON def. ARYA ESFANDMAZ by decision
Catchweight (104 kg) NOGI
We alluded to these two preferring the top game in our preview of the event. Unfortunately, none showed the desire to truly exchange in the stand-up to achieve that goal. We saw a lot of holding on to heads and a few tentative shots but with no oomph behind those.
To Arya’s credit, he did eventually pull guard to try and get the match going, but Johnson quickly passed his guard, forcing the Londoner to turtle and get back on his feet. Although appreciated by the viewers, that exchange probably cost him the match.
MICHELLE NICOLINI def. VANESSA ENGLISH via toe hold
Catchweight (57 kg) GI
This was a clash we were very happy to see when it was announced and for great reason, both of these ladies have forward-moving games, tons of flair and love to finish, furthermore, although both compete in similar weight classes with a long list of achievements, they had never met in competition.
The match turned out to be a fairly even contest, with plenty of sweeping exchanges and submission attacks.
Nicolini had threatened a toe hold at the start of the match, coming off a knee-slide passing attempt and this was exactly the same move she used to finish the English competitor a few minutes later. Vanessa was up against one of grappling’s GOATs and proved to be a very worthy opponent. An exciting fight from start to finish.
TOMMY LANGAKER def. GILBERT BURNS by decision
Catchweight (80 kg) GI
Tommy Langaker is without a doubt one of the most exciting grapplers on the planet today, and Gilbert’s willingness to meet Langaker half-way made for a beautiful match-up. We lost count of how many tight submission attempts we saw here, these two went at it. We should probably forget the Fight Of The Night label and start thinking Fight Of The Year.
Tommy started the match out with a tight-tight armbar attempt off a takedown, which Durinho miraculously escaped, but the onslaught continued from both sides. Back takes, sweeps, near passes, omoplatas, triangles, and whatnot. These two threw everything but the kitchen sink at each other and kept coming for more.
Throughout the match Langaker had the best of these exchanges, and in the end, was awarded the win by unanimous decision. During his finishing interview the Norwegian middleweight called out Keenan Cornelius and Gabriel Arges to fight him in the Polaris stage.
ASH WILLIAMS def. RICHARD ALARCON by armbar
Bantamweight (61.2 kg) NOGI
“Red” Alarcon came in as a late replacement to the injured João Miyao. The American had a win over Williams in an epic and slightly controversial match earlier this year, as such this was a perfect opportunity to settle the score.
Although Alarcon came in with the wrestling pedigree, it was Williams who started the offense in the takedown department with a well-timed double-leg. Alarcon responded well, and although a short match, none of these two athletes thought about slowing down for once.
In a takedown exchange initiated by Red, the Welsh Polaris Lightweight champ latched on a quick kimura-trap style set-up, which he modified then to an armbar. Spectacular finish and awesome display by both athletes.
NICK RODRIGUEZ def. LUKE ROCKHOLD by decision
Catchweight (104.3 kg) NOGI
This was a match-up we weren’t thrilled to see on paper, and unfortunately, what we expected to see turned out to be accurate. Lots of pushing and shoving but not a lot of jiu-jitsu. It took 7 minutes to see a bit of action, a quick and nicely timed takedown to back scramble initiated by Rodriguez which ended in a mount position. Rockhold escaped and another 7 minutes of shoving ensued before we saw another takedown attempt near the end of the match.
Not a fight that will stick in the fans’ minds for long, but luckily they were spoiled by tons of action in the previous matches, prelims included, so hardly a blemish to the overall card.
There’s is hardly ever a dull moment in Polaris’ prelims, a tradition Polaris kept and possibly even raised in their 12th appearance. The “foreigners” squad: Jeremy Skinner, Espen Mathiesen, Fred Vosgrone, Shane Fishman and Stephen Ramos were on fire at the Polaris mats, beautiful performances by each of these competitors showing very refined grappling skills and the perfect amount of offense in a professional jiu-jitsu setting. If you are to watch the Polaris 12 event on the UFC Fight Pass in the future, we highly recommend you to look at these matches. In one word… Well, two words and a hyphen: Action-packed.
We tend to be slightly biased towards the gi here at BJJ Heroes, but we don’t think we are being discriminatory when we say Espen Mathiesen’s submission sequence over Bryn Jenkins is one of the coolest transitions we have seen all year. A must watch Matrix-type maneuver.
ESPEN MATHIESEN def. BRYN JENKINS by armbar
Catchweight (79 kg) GI
SHANE FISHMAN def. STEFAN PETROV by inside heel-hook
Light Heavyweight (93.0 kg) NOGI
STEPHEN RAMOS def. JUSTUS GOESCHEL by decision
Lightweight (70.3 kg) NOGI
CRAIG EWERS def. LIAM CANN by decision
Welterweight (77.1 kg) NOGI
FREDERIC VOSGRONE def. ASH AMOS by arm-in guillotine
Catchweight (95 kg) NOGI
JEREMY SKINNER def. EOGHAN O’FLANAGAN by inside heel-hook
Catchweight (79 kg) NOGI
FRED GREENALL def. SHANE PRICE by armbar
Catchweight (85 kg) NOGI
NASTASA SILVIU def. JAMIE HUGHES by reverse triangle
Catchweight (90 kg) NOGI