Five Grappling Lightweight Tournament Preview
Eight of the best 155 pound Jiu-Jitsu practitioners will battle it out on Five Grappling’s Lightweight Pro Invitational in San Diego on July 15th. While the lightweights will take the stage as the main attraction in what has become one of Jiu-Jitsu’s most fan-friendly events in the country, the card will also include the likes of Keenan Cornelius, Boogey Martinez, Jessica Flowers, and Nick Schrock to name a few. I would be remised if I didn’t mention that my teammate and training partner Zimitro Perez will have his first Super Fight on this card as well ;).
Who’s competing in the Lightweight tournament?
- Wallace Santos
- Francisco “Sinestro” Iturralde
- Shane Hill-Taylor
- Brandon Walensky
- Lucas Pinheiro
- Samuel Braga
- Gianni Grippo
- Leonardo Saggiora
Preview and Predictions for the tournament
Santos is a Soul Fighters practitioner, coach, and competitor out of Las Vegas. He’s fought the who’s who of his division but has yet to claim a top tier championship at the black belt level. Wallace is technical enough to compete — and beat — with everyone in the tournament.
Francisco “Sinestro” Iturralde
Nicknamed Sinestro, Portuguese for something that’s out of the ordinary or special. A nickname he picked up as a teen from his instructor Fernando di Piero. He’s a multiple time world champion at blue and purple belt. Sinestro has also medaled at brown and black belt at No-Gi Worlds and Worlds respectively, the most recent being in 2016. He’s a Five Grappling Super League veteran and is a favorite on paper for the whole tournament.
Shane Jamil Hill-Taylor
The Lloyd Irvin black belt was a product of Irvin’s kids program, taking part in the Lloyd Irvin Summer Camp at the age of eight. Shane has established himself as a top competitor this year. He’s won Worlds at blue, purple, and brown belt. As a black belt he’s taken bronze at Worlds and the Pan Ams in 2017 — giving Cobrinha all he could handle in the semi-finals of the Worlds — and is looking to add to the year’s collection with a Five Grappling Lightweight Championship.
Walensky has been training martial arts since the age of 13 and is both a Judo black belt under Paulo Fernando and a Jiu-Jitsu black under Clark Gracie. As a brown belt, Walensky was a No-Gi world champion in 2013 and 2015. At black belt, he placed second in his division at Abu Dhabi National Pro and third in the absolute division this year. A true wild card in the event and someone who is dangerous in every macth-up.
As one of the top black belt light-featherweight fighters, Pinheiro has had a pretty successful 2017. He’s collected IBJJF gold at the Atlanta Spring Open, Dallas Gi Open, Dallas No-Gi Open, and Miami spring No-Gi this year while being a runner-up at Pans this year. He is a formidable opponent for everyone in the bracket.
The former Tae Kwon Do student turned Jiu-Jitsu practitioner amassed five Brazilian national titles in a row at the lower belts which resulted in him being awarded his black belt after only five years of training by Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes. He’s gone on to become a three-time World champion in the Gi and a two-time No-Gi World Champion.
It should be noted that Braga would have additionally placed at the 2009 World Championships if it wasn’t for his temper. After losing to Guilherme Mendes in the finals, Braga shoved his opponent which resulted in him being stripped of his silver medal by the IBJJF.
Braga is the most accomplished competitor in the division, but will he be able to hold off the new up-and-comers like Shane Hill?
This Marcelo Garcia black belt is a berimbolo specialist. While he has yet to win an IBJJF World title at black belt, he has won Worlds at blue, purple, and twice at brown. He’s a two-time black belt Pan Ams champion as recent as 2015. At this year’s Pans, Grippo lost via referee’s decision to fellow Five Grappling competitor Shane Hill-Taylor. It’ll be interesting to see how things turn out if they meet again. Grippo boasts one of the most recognizable names in the tournament, so the pressure will be on him to bring the fight to his opponents.
Saggioro battled and lost to Cobrinha in the finals of the Worlds this year and has been a perennial contender in his division for years, collecting third place finishes the last few years. Saggioro has recent wins over others in the bracket; including Gianni Grippo. Those familiar with his jiu jitsu consider hima heavy favorite for the tournament.
Final Lightweight Tournament Predictions
David: This is where I tell you who you should gamble on. Don’t, gambling is bad. What’s worse? Usually my picks. I’m going purely on a gut feeling here, but I’m rolling with Shane Jamil Hill-Taylor. Many will consider him a long shot but I got a feeling.
Tyler: Nice call, David. Shane would definitely be an upset pick, but I’ll go on the record saying he certainly has the skills and ability to do it. In fact, in a few years, he may be considered the favorite among these gentlemen. Don’t sleep on Brandon Walensky either.
The brackets are going to determine everything in my opinion. I like Sinestro, Grippo, and Saggioro a lot in this format. Of those 3, it’s a toss up, but with no advantages to separate them, I’ll take Saggioro by decision in the finals.