Five Grappling Super League 8-Man Tournament Preview
On Saturday, December 3rd, eight of the toughest light and middleweight grapplers on planet earth will do battle in a unique and unprecedented format. Five Grappling is back and will play host to this powerful gathering of competitors. While there are other matches on the card, the big draw for the event is the 8-man super-bracket.
I will be there live calling the action and wanted to do my best to preview this exciting event. The first round match-up’s for the tournament have yet to be decided. The event organizers will be doing the brackets by random draw starting Friday night.
While the brackets could end up being key for determining a winner, there are some clear favorites heading into the tournament. Below, I’ll highlight those favorites, give you some predictions, and provide the underdog paths to victory.
Who’s competing in this thing?
The 8-man, single-elimination event will feature a lineup of world-class Brazilian jiu jitsu black belts from very different backgrounds. The competitor list is as follows:
- Marcelo Mafra, Checkmat
Dillon Danis, AllianceMansher Khera (Marcelo Gracia) – REPLACEMENT*
- Sean Roberts, Ralph Gracie/Checkmat
- John Combs, Easton BJJ
- Brian Morizi, Clark Gracie
- Edwin Najmi, Gracie Barra (Romulo Barral)
- Michael Liera Jr., Atos Jiu Jitsu ( Andre Galvao)
- Bill Cooper, Paragon
So, who has the best chance of winning? It’s best we break down each competitor one by one; as there is a lot to consider.
Preview of competitors
Mafra may not have a profile as big as some of the other competitors on the list, but he is absolutely one fo the tournament favorites. Mafra has the skills out of the box to beat everyone listed above. He is one of the few competitors that does not need to have his best day to win the whole thing. He simply has to fight at his ability level.
Although viewers at home may not have seen a lot of Mafra, he is actually one of the more experienced competitors in the tournament. This experience should help keep him from making a critical error that costs him. That error could come in the form of being too conservative as well.
Several years ago at the Pan Jiu jitsu Championship, he was caught late in the match by Clark Gracie, as he was attempting to protect a lead that would have seen him earn a decision that would deliver him the gold medal.
My prediction: Mafra is very likely a semi-finalist and quite possibly a finalist
REMOVED & REPLACED
Dillon Danis Danis will be taking a break from jet-setting around the world with Connor McGregor and feuding with Gordan Ryan to take part in this stellar 8-man tournament. Danis has not been as active in tournament jiu jitsu as he has in the past, but it’s obvious he’s been training for competition nonetheless.
Danis is another tournament favorite. He is a grinder. He is the guy in the tournament that may be able to win simply because he will be very hard to beat. He is also a very well-rounded competitor; which will lend itself very well to this type of format.
His relentless, high-risk style could put him in danger in certain match-ups. His bracket will be worth watching. He matches up better with some guys better than others. For example, I think Najmi is one of the more difficult matches for him in the tournament. If he could overcome some of the field , and hold off Najmi until the finals, he could see his name atop the podium.
My prediction: Dillon will make it past the first round and is a potential finalist
Mansher Khera has stepped in for an injured Dillon Danis.
Khera is an interesting late addition. He presents many of the same problems to the rest of field that Danis did. Khera has been relatively active recently, and is coming off a big ADCC trials tournament win.
Khera is now a dark horse for the finals and is a danger to everyone in the tournament. However, winning this tournament will be his biggest accomplishment yet.
My prediction: Khera is likely a semi-finalist. Depending on how prepared he is (he is last minute), he could make a run at the finals.
Roberts is a wild card in this entire tournament. He has not been overly active in the past few years. However, Roberts has as strong a reputation in the gym as anyone in the entire bracket.
Roberts is known as a dangerous and naturally talented competitor. His technique is very fluid and full of tricks. He will require all of his opponent’s attention. He is capable of overcoming everyone in the tournament by submission, but he would need to be in rare form to make that happen.
Roberts clearest path to victory is through his guard. The match length is short, and Roberts could frustrate and trap his opponents if they aren’t careful. However, the talent in this tournament will prove to be a tall test to Roberts, who still does not have a ton of tournament experience at black belt.
My prediction: Roberts can be a semi-finalist, but will need a superb performance to secure a spot in the finals
If there was a fan favorite award for the competition, John Combs may just be the recipient. Combs burst onto the scene earlier this year with a dynamic performance at the pan Jiu Jitsu Championship. Since then, Combs has ridden a train of ups and downs.
Although Combs is coming off a submission loss several weeks ago to DJ Jackson, he has proven to be both unpredictable and incredibly lethal in every match he is in. If he can channel the performance from this year’s Pan, he may have a shot at this whole shebang.
Unfortunately for Combs, there is a lot of experience in this tournament to overcome. He is clearly the underdog in this bracket, but that is a spot he is used to. He has the potential to be the upset pick if he can navigate the deep waters early.
My prediction: Combs will need a strong performance to make it past the first round, but could upset anyone on the list.
Morizi is a guy that has sort of toiled away in silence. If you look at some of his titles and accomplishments, they are comparable to nearly anyone in the tournament; yet he doesn’t get the credit that some of the others have. Nevertheless, Morizi is a name to watch once the brackets are drawn.
Few competitors on the list will be more impacted by the seeding draws than Morizi, in my opinion. He tends to get better as a match goes on, and if he can sneak out of the first round he could a be a problem for just about anyone.
Ultimately, this tournament could be a tough test for Morizi, but he does already have some big signature victories to his name, so you never know. He is one of the hardest guys to predict in this whole thing.
My prediction: If he can get out of the first round, he will be a dangerous semifinal match-up
Another clear favorite for the tournament finals, Najmi has been earmarked for greatness since purple belt. He came up just shy of a black belt world championship at his first year at black belt after securing a Pan Championship just months before.
Edwin is a terrible match-up for many of the competitors above; however there are a few match-up’s that could prove troublesome for him. Najmi has the reputation of running hot and cold. When at his best, he is almost unbeatable. However, when cold, he can be beat.
Edwin will need to get rolling early. Look for him to find his groove with a submission in the first match. If he can secure a fast start, he may very well run the table.
My prediction: Edwin is likely a finalist and a favorite to win the whole thing.
Michael Liera Jr.
Another favorite for the finals, Liera Jr. is one of the most dangerous competitors in the tournament. Liera Jr. has proven himself at the black belt level and matches up well with everyone in the tournament.
Although he is arguably less versatile than some of the other competitors, his A-game is enough to see him through to the finals. He and Najmi have had some close matches in the past, and another showdown between them looms in the background of this tournament.
Liera Jr. cannot afford any mistakes in his matches. He does best when in control of the match and there are many in the bracket that will bring the fight to him early. He will need his best performance to see himself crowned the winner.
My prediction: I can easily see him in the finals with someone like Najmi, but if he is not at his sharpest he could struggle with any one of the other challengers.
Perhaps we’ve saved the best for last. There is no competitor in this tournament more experienced than Bill Cooper. He has the veteran of the bunch, and therefore cannot be discounted. He has proven that he has what it takes to come out on top of a bracket like this.
The hard question with Cooper is what will we see from him. Will we see Bill at his best, or will we see him still shaking the rust off from a layoff from competition. Cooper at his best is a formidable opponent, but he will absolutely have to be at his all-time best to be the winner of this tournament.
I can see Cooper being a surprise to some of the younger competitors. He should not be underestimated. The right match-up’s could see him through to the finals.
My prediction: Cooper is probably a semi-finalist; the match-up’s will determine just how far he can go.
So, who wins it?
You decide. Follow me on Instagram (@tylerbishopbjj). I will be providing live updates on Friday once the final brackets are released. I’ll also be doing some live stories and more the day of the event before we go live.
Who do you think will take the whole thing? Leave your comments below.