Five Grappling Super League 8-Man Light Heavyweight Preview
By David Figueroa-Martinez
On Saturday, March 11th, Five Grappling will be hosting Five Super League Light Heavyweight Pro Invitation in San Diego. It’s going to be an evening of action-packed grappling spanning the gamut of blue to black belts. Aside from the main tournament, the card itself is packed with fifteen undercard bouts and five super fights with noticeable appearances by Baret Yoshida, Sean Roberts, Bia Mesquita, Richie Martinez, Jena Bishop, Tammi Musumeci, and Magid Hage just to name a few.
The highlight of the night being the eight-man super tournament consisting of some of the best light heavyweight practitioners in the world. While the first round draw has yet to be determined, and may not happen until Friday evening, it’s safe to say that the seating will be a healthy indicator of who is expected to succeed. On paper at least.
While some of these names may not stand out to some of you, as not all of us watch competitions religiously, this rundown should help you familiarize yourself with the participants involved. I’ll be going over some of their backgrounds and accomplishments, ultimately giving you who I believe will pull it out (Then, I suppose I’ll also let Tyler hop in with his opinion as well).
Who’s competing in the Five Grappling tournament?
Barring any last minute scratches due to injury or illness, the competitors are as follows:
- Lucas “The Hulk” Babosa, ATOS
- Tanner Rice, Soul Fighters
- Joao Assis, Checkmat
- Eliot Kelly, Yemaso
- Nick Schrock, Riberio Jiu-Jitsu
- Ezra Lenon, Cavalo Team
- Tarsis Humphreys, Alliance Jiu-Jitsu
- Leandro Lo, NS Brotherhood
Preview of competitors
Lucas “The Hulk” Barbosa
Barbosa is a relatively new black belt, being promoted by Andre Fabiano back in 2015. While he has yet to garner a world title at black belt he was an Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials Champion and Copa Podio Superfight winner. At brown belt he collected world championships in both Gi and No-Gi respectively. It’s going to be interesting to see how his pressure passing will measure up against the rest of the field.
He does have two losses against fellow tournament competitor Tanner Rice and two wins over Ezra Lenon on his record. I believe the layout of the brackets will be a factor for Barbosa’s success. Can he make the adjustments necessary to win if he gets paired up with Rice at some point?
At brown belt, Rice won an IBJJF World Championship and also procured bronze at Pans. Most recently, he was the runner-up at the IBJJF European Open. As stated before, Tanner has two wins over Lucas Barbosa but an armbar loss to Leandro Lo in the finals at Europeans.
There is no shame is losing to one of the greatest of our generation, but will he be able to find the needed adjustments for a possible rematch against Lo?
Assis earned his black belt from Leonardo Vieira in 2009 and has fought the who’s who of the Jiu-Jitsu world. He has notable wins over the likes of Bill Cooper, Clark Gracie, Bernardo Faria, and Dean Lister to name a few.
His extensive grappling experience both in Jiu-Jitsu and what he picked up working with Team Quest MMA make him a formidable opponent for anyone in this tournament. He is a veteran of this group and will be counting on his experience to carry him to victory.
After receiving his black belt from Marcos “Yemosa” Torregrosa, Kelly has amassed three Masters World medals over the years. As an avid wrestling competitor, Kelly has been able to successfully implement his freestyle techniques into his Jiu-Jitsu, cultivating a solid pressure passing base.
I’m looking forward to seeing how his aggressive approach will play out against the field.
Nick “Moose” Schrock
Nick is more commonly referred to as Moose (or Goose by some). He is world champion in both gi and no gi at the lower belts. Most recently, Nick captured weight and open weight titles at the Long Beach Open.
Still new to black belt, Nick is the kind of guy that is developing on a weekly basis. He is a dark horse for the tournament if he brings his best. He actually has some experience against the field in this tournament as well.
Nick has a victory over Tanner Rice and past losses to Eliot Kelly, Lucas Barbosa, and Eliot Kelly. It will be an uphill battle for Moose, but as we saw with John Combs in the last 5 tournament, the new, hungry black belts can often offer the greatest threat.
Ezra is a no gi Pan champion that boasts victories over notable figures such as; Pablo Popovitch, Jeff Glover, Abmar Barbosa, and Jared Dopp. He is an often underrated figure in the grappling world. A multi-time ADCC veteran, Lenon is known for his half guard and effective leglock game.
Ezra may be quietly one of the most dangerous guys in the tournament; as he has very few holes in his grappling style and is one of the most veteran black belts of the group.
The Fabio Gurgel black belt was the first man to receive all his belt promotions under the famed four time World Champion. Humphreys himself has won the European Open, World Championship, and most recently The Los Angeles Bjj Pro Championship last year. His well-rounded game should play well against the other competitors.
Leandro Lo is probably the runaway favorite in this bracket. He’s a four time Pan American Champion, multiple weight Copa Podio Champion, multiple time Abu Dhabi World Pro Champion, and a World League Pro World Champion. Lo most recently was at the top of the podium at Europeans this year in both his weight class and in the absolute division.
With wins over Zack Maxwell, JT Torres, DJ Jackson, Clark Gracie, Victor Estima, Keenan Cornelius, and Andre Galvao, it’s extremely hard to bet against him.
David: Personally, I think that Leandro Lo wins this tournament, but would love to know who you believe will come away with it.
Tyler: I was right in my pick last time. I think the rules make a world of difference. Lo has not traditionally been known as a submission fighter, and with these 6-minute matches, I could see him being upset in the tournament. I like Nick Schrock and Tanner Rice in this format a lot. Both are underdogs, but I think both have styles built to upset the bracket.
You tell us…
Do you see any upsets brewing? Please let us know and comment or share with your pick on social media.