Thursday, July 20, 2017

Odds & Ends: Thoughts as of late regarding grappling and the sport as a whole

Been (re)watching the early Eddie Bravo Invitationals. Interesting how almost none of the matches go to overtime, and by the time we get to EBI 10 or 11, that has considerably changed. The Danaher Death Squad still submits all their bracket patch to the finals, but the submission finish rate in overtime has changed. No real observation other than that.

Roger rematches Buchecha this weekend. Truly a match for the ages. Possibly the greatest legitimate rematch/match to be made at this time. Rodolfo has come close, but no one has really put it to Buchecha at black belt. The few times I can recall him down on points (by a sweep or something) he would come roaring back to life like some Disney villain returned from the dead for one last rage.

Fight 2 Win Pro has two cards left this month. 5 Grappling offered up a premise that had the potential for fireworks as it featured lightweights on down but since I normally bag on the heavier weight classes for being boring AF, I gotta pay the piper on this one. I fell asleep watching it. The competitors past the first round honestly didn't spend much time submission hunting, content to play open guard or propose the appearance of clearing hooks and passing, but it was largely a ho-hum affair with some featured superfights that were forgettable minus Horlando Monteiro's triangle of Shrock, a semi-competitive Keenan/Diniz match-up and an atrocious women's match featured as well.

The Absolut Championship Berkut seems to produce a good amount of submissions and action, but it's also held in a region rumored to have anti-gay pogroms/cleansings with beyond dubious ties to organized crime and B movie style villainous henchmen. The same troublesome human rights abuses and concerns float around Abu Dhabi as well.

Beatriz Mesquita won $10k at the Pro Grappling Championship in an effort to make clear the organization offers equal pay for men and women. I didn't see many if any of the ladies harping on the BJJ-equality tip plugging the event or promoting it on their social media, but will surely sign up and compete for the IBJJF and try to get on the podium. It's hard to take serious your complaints about inequality when you do nothing to help promote organizations actively actually....y'know.....putting their money where their mouth is. If you're only going to complain that the organization for which you choose freely to compete doesn't offer equal pay but ignore an organization that does, then your complaints honestly feel semi-half-hearted at best. Also, frankly, the level of competition is not even remotely comparable. There. I said it. We're all thinking it. It's true. If we could acknowledge that first then continue the discussion, I might be willing to entertain following points, but after sitting through that atrocious nogi women's match on the 5Grappling broadcast, you can't possibly tell me that the level of competition is even within the same galaxy.
EBI is also offering a women's event coming up.....again, the question: how many people will order it as a PPV, and/or what will the viewership be like. on FightPass. There's a thousand fashion/lifestyle/women business owner's that can support women's grappling and athletics the way men have for decades with their own money and attendance. I'm not sure why in grappling we're expected to do it for a sense of political correctness when the NBA for example doesn't force you to watch women play? I don't really care either way, as a viewer/spectator I don't have to pay for or support events which I don't choose to. I have allowed my flograppling account to lapse b/c frankly the website interphase was terrible. I'm considering signing back up to simply support grappling and support the sport as a whole. If I want to show my appreciation for the sport and the dearth of viewing opportunities, I have to support the organizations making that possible.

I say these things not as inflammatory, or clickbait, or out of really anything other than part of the discourse of grappling fans and patrons. We ultimately with our time and energy and money determine the landscape of the sport.

Furthermore, the steroid issue. Are we all just going to pretend it's not going on? Are we going to just remain silent as a mute when guys are caught red-handed? If we remain silent, we're giving our tacit acceptance of it as a reality. It would bother me less if there wasn't this whole mantra of "train super hard and long and be dedicated and it's technique" and blah blah blah...but that's what we spout, then turn around and watch as the purple brown and black belts are roided to the 9's most if not all of the year (black belts may get tested on a set date literally once per year. Watch guys at the Worlds, then look at them a month later competing......see the guys "focusing on the ADCC" and skipping Worlds (the one day per year they might face a steroid's a farce and a travesty and it's pathetic. I said it. It's the giant looming elephant in our sport. It's why guys came over from Pride to the UFC and looked like shells of themselves. It's part of a trend that will filter down into the lower belts because black belts set the standard.

Jiu-Jitsu in the Olympics and out of competition testing would go a long, long, long way. I was actually previously anti-BJJ in the Olympics, but if it brought additional PED testing, I am 100% for it.

Demian Maia fights at the end of the month, against the Anti-Jiu-Jitsu style: strong punches and wrestling background. It remains to be seen if the short camp and turnaround leaves the nearly 40 yr old fighter capable of beating the Woodley who is willing to fight an atrociously boring fight in order to win. Jacare is back to the drawing board after a loss to Whitaker and a shoulder. Lovato and Rader are working their way up the C and B level shows in MMA. This may well be a golden era in sport grappling with the monthly and weekly (almost) offerings on flograppling and polaris and EBI and other smaller EBI style format invitationals and cards like Sapateiro and Radius and Global Grappling League and Show the Art it is, I should be less negative and enjoy it as much as I can. That being said, I keep a wary eye on trends that damage the integrity of the sport, especially PEDs. We cannot be a sport that remains quiet nor ignores the blatant and expect to be taken seriously on a broader stage.

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