NOVEMBER 23, 2019, marked the final stage of the Spyder Jiu-Jitsu Invitational, also known as the “King Of Kings” event, one of the biggest gi tournaments of the year and the largest gold medal prize money in the sport today (100k USD). The event took place in South Korea’s capital – Seoul, and gathered 8 of the finest grapplers on Earth today, while also bringing back one of jiu-jitsu’s legends – Rodolfo Vieira, who had moved to MMA some time ago.
Originally a multinational Winter Sports brand, Spyder’s Korean branch has taken a fondness over grappling and has created this grandiose event mark their entry in the sport’s market. A brilliant production from the referee’s uniform to the lighting, mat quality, camera angles, and whatnot. 5 stars all round. Below is a description of the tournament’s action.
– Jonatha Alves def. Jamill Hill-Taylor by RNC
In under 1 minute Alves countered Jamil’s berimbolo entry and took the former featherweight world champion’s back, finishing the sequence with an RNC. Beautiful jiu-jitsu.
– Matheus Gabriel def. Edwin Najmi by 4×2 pts. 1×1 adv
The current Pan and World featherweight champion, Matheus Gabriel took the win by pulling guard and sweeping his larger Gracie Barra opponent – Najmi. Edwin likes to bait, offering limbs to his opponents which sometimes confuses them, unfortunately, this was not the case for Gabriel who took everything the American threw at him and made it count. A hard end of the season for Najmi who had shown his true potential at the start of the year.
– Levi Jones-Leary def. Gabriel Arges by decision (2×2 pts)
In one of the most tactical matches of the night, the Aussie, Levi Jones was the victor, another huge win for the recent black belt after he beat men such as Lucas Lepri and Renato Canuto earlier in the year.
Jones pulled guard and successfully kept the current IBJJF middleweight champion Arges at bay for most of the match, attempting a few footlocks from the bottom. Not a memorable match and a disappointing loss for Arges who was not able to fully showcase his tremendous potential.
– Mateus Lutes def. – Inseong Jang by 2×0 pts, 1×0 adv
On paper, this was the match with the least star-power on the whole card between the hometown hero Inseong Jang and brown belt Mateus Lutes. That, however, did not translate to a lesser fight as the two grapplers had a good, fast-paced battle for positional dominance, one won by the Brazilian, Marcelo Garcia student by two points for a failed guard pull to ankle pick sweep.
– Matheus Gabriel def. Jonatha Alves by 2×2, 1×0 adv
A fantastic game between the power and precision of Alves versus the off-the-charts fight IQ and technique of Gabriel. Lighter and smaller the Checkmat featherweight was able to keep AOJ’s lightweight at bay by making clever ad hoc adjustments as the match developed with a well-timed sweeping attempt in the last second of the match, which earned him the winning advantage.
Gabriel never allowed for Jonatha’s strong berimbolo game, playing a more traditional collar and sleeve DLR. Both players showed great skill and a beautiful future in the sport. Hopefully, we will see these two meet again.
– Levi Jones-Leary def. Mateus Lutes by 6×0 pts
A battle between an Australian and a Brazilian who spend most of their training time in New York, US. Both extremely young players, with a good size advantage going to Lutes and the experience landing on Jones-Leary’s court.
Levi started the match very aggressive, attacking arms, back takes and sweeps, throwing caution to the wall and taking Lutes’ back early in the match, after a successful sweep. 6 points ahead Levi did not stop attacking, and neither did Mateus, who escaped the back and went straight back to work, trying to pass Jones’s very crafty guard.
A race for the guard was to be expected and it was delivered. The double guard pulls were followed by the necessary penalties (3x) which left both athletes sitting on edge of a disqualification, particularly concerning considering Levi Jones already had a loss by DQ due to guard-pulling this year. On the 4th attempt, Levi pressed one of his berimbolos which forced Matheus to scramble to the top, then (finally) setting the match with defined positions, a little over 2 minutes to go for the final whistle.
With 100,000 dollars on the line, the pressure was felt on both athletes, and that pressure, sadly, made for a defensive match from both competitors. With 40 seconds to go, Matheus Gabriel desperately attempted a loose back-take counter which saw Jones come on top, 2 “free” points for Jones-Leary and an hefty prize money.
– Nicholas Meregali def. Tim Spriggs by double collar choke f/ back
Meregali came in as the heavy favorite to conquer this weight class and he showed why in his opening match against the durable Tim Spriggs. A quick guard-pull negated Spriggs’ superior takedown ability, which the Alliance superstar used to sweep from an omoplata to side control, then attacking the back for the quick finish under 3 minutes. Outstanding.
– Erberth Santos def. Claudio Calasans by toe hold
This match could go two ways, either a quick submission by Santos – if he caught the veteran Calasans off-guard or a very slow-cooked match which would favor Calasan’s style, particularly if Claudio reached the 50/50 position. Unfortunately for the fans, it was the latter.
Erberth did manage to escape from Calasan’s guard with around 2:30 minutes to go and avoid the stalling tactics. Trying his hardest to take the former Calasans Camargo judoka’s down, Santos forced another guard pull by Calasans, a foot was left unattended in doing so and Santos took full advantage of this slip-up, taking the win by toe hold.
– Kaynan Duarte def. Leandro Lo by 0x0 pts, 2×1 adv
With similar dynamics to that of Erberth vs Calasans, on paper, this match would have very clear and diverging styles. The forward-moving Kaynan versus the slow-cooked (and often stalling) gameplan of Lo.
Duarte did well to implement his pace on the veteran Leandro, trying for takedowns and shakes from standing, and even pulling guard when those did not work. Always pressing the action and not allowing Lo to rest and strategize. Leandro did well to fend off Kaynan’s sweeping and passing attempts, but not enough to make it happen in the scoreboard.
– Rodolfo Vieira def. Anderson Munis by katagatame
Although a double gold at the IBJJF Worlds this year in the purple belt division, not many gave a glimmer of hope to recently promoted brown belt Anderson Munis, over one of the best guard passers of all time in Rodolfo Vieira. The variables here, however, were how talented Munis actually is and, how Rodolfo’s long absence from the gi, would have affected the GFT star’s game.
Anderson did extremely well, surprising everyone by sweeping Vieira at the 3-minute mark, and placing himself ahead on the match. After a scramble Rodolfo managed to reassume top position and finally pass the lanky Alliance player’s lasso-guard. From there the old Rodolfo came back to life, implementing his rhythm on the youngster and finishing with a katagatame. Brilliant performance by both competitors.
– Nicholas Meregali def. Erberth Santos by verbal tap
One of the grudge matches of the year lived up to the hype. Meregali’s sheer aggression was met head-on by Erberth early on with a few sweep exchanges and submission attempts. Unfortunately for the fans, Santos’ impetus started fading away as Nicholas gained terrain on the Esquadrão de Jiu-Jitsu frontman. After complaining about a possible knee to the face when getting his guard passed by Nicholas, Erberth appeared to give up on the match. Something that is becoming a bit of a tradition with the former world champion. The match was 8×2 (Meregali) at the time of the verbal tap.
– Kaynan Duarte def. Rodolfo Vieira by 2×0
Another very interesting match between one of the greatest to ever do it (Vieira) against the youngest of grappling stars (Duarte). If there appeared to be a bit of “mat-rust” on Rodolfo’s side against brown belt Munis during the 1/4 finals, that became more prominent against the current black belt world champion Kaynan.
The Atos team standout did not allow Rodolfo to set his passing grips and swept the GFT competitor from the saddle position early on, after a guard pull. Vieira showed great guard defense from the bottom, hanging with Kaynan’s passing pressure and movement, though never posing a real offense. Good scrap between New and Old School, both athletes left the mat exhausted.
– Kaynan Duarte def. Nicholas Meregali by decision (0x0 pts)
Meregali set the pace against Duarte, making good use of his DLR guard to attempt several sweeps with Kaynan making his best to defend and slow down the Alliance man throughout the match. Nicholas had 3 near sweeps against Kaynan’s good base.
We felt a better job could have been made by the referees in warning Kaynan to move forward as there was a clear lack of engagement throughout the match. Adding to injury, Duarte spent the last 10 seconds trying to move, and that seemed to sway the judges in his favor (!?). A surprising and controversial decision in our opinion. Nonetheless, Duarte was the winner of the night and Spyder’s new champ.