By: Tyler Bishop
So the latest installment of Metamoris has finally happened, and the promotion delivered their largest and most anticipated event to date. The event was hyped from the beginning, selling out live attendance on the first day tickets were publically available. But did it live up to the hype?
The events success depends on who you ask, and what their opinion is about jiu jitsu competition. The facts are as follows; the live experience, stream, and production were more successful and more dynamic than the previous two shows, even though Jeff Glover had many moments that likely had audience members burying their hands in their faces. The updated and streamlined production with little filler between matches provided a well-organized, no-nonsense display for fans. The event appeared professional and provided an adequate stage for top competitors while allowing true fan to appreciate the performance.
While only 2 of the 6 matches on the card finished in submission, many of the matches maintained a high-level of excitement despite the matches finishing in a draw. In fact, the most exciting match of the entire night, the headliner, resulted in a draw; however, it is now being heralded as one the most exciting matches in recent history online. The rule set itself is still not perfect. Some of the competitors still have not adjusted to the proper way to compete in these matches, and the end result is often a strange series of events (see Lister/Sobral). However, quite subjectively, I can say that this card was more exciting than the past two, and that seems to be the general consensus among popular online jiu jitsu destinations as well.
To improve future shows, Metamoris will likely need to improve the rule set and evolve and build upon current models, but all-in-all Metamoris III appears to have been a success (in terms of execution). Once stream purchase numbers are tallied, I’m sure the organizers will be able to tell you one way or the other if the show was truly a success.
To improve action in the future, perhaps future events should consider four 5 minute rounds, or perhaps two 10 minute rounds. I often advocate this approach based on the success of the old Rickson Budo Challenge event (one of the greatest ever held). Many have never heard or seen of this event, but it provided some the most exciting matches in history. Metamoris and others would be smart to evaluate this extraordinary past event for future ideas.
Using staggered criteria, I think it’s fair to say Metamoris and the fans watching were winners on Saturday evening, but among the other parties involved, who were winners and who were losers? I do my best below to breakdown the events beneficiaries below. Enjoy!
Winner: Zak Maxwell, and Guard Passing in Sub-Only events
While the Sean Roberts/Zak Maxwell match ended in a draw, the last 10 minutes were a great display of cat and mouse between Zak and Sean. With so many lighter competitors developing dangerously dynamic guards, it has become difficult for those with a guard passing-style in those lighter weight classes. While the start of this match was a reflection of this construct – with both competitors attempting guard work – Zak made the decision to play the top position about halfway through the match. What was so interesting about this was the strategy that I believe he revealed to all future Metamoris competitors.
Although Zak had to weather the early storm of guard attacks from Sean – fending off multiple omoplatas and armlocks – he was eventually able to find his stride and pass the guard and secure several dominant positions and very close submissions. The final minutes were all Maxwell. What future competitors should glean from this is the flexibility that the Metamoris rule set allows. Typically competitors fear playing against another top guard player due to the threat of being swept or submitted; however if the you can get past the fear of being submitted – under Metamoris rules, competitors can gain a new level of comfort. Let me explain. Let’s say Zak determined that he could avoid the guard submissions. If that’s the case, then all he has to fear are sweeps. Well, there are no points for sweeps and if the opponent wants to play guard it’s likely they will not follow-up on the sweep if they land it. Basically, if you can stay out of submissions you are granted unlimited guard passing attempts. Zak exposed this in the rules and the current dynamic, and almost secured several submissions for his efforts.
It will be interesting to see if others employ this method of attack in the future. In my opinion, both Sean and Zak come out looking very well in this match, but Zak’s display of jiu jitsu exemplified an interesting dynamic about guard passing under these unique circumstances.
Loser: Rafeal Mendes
Rafael Mendes is anything but a loser. However, in this event he did not grow the brand of the Rafa Mendes legend. Our site has routinely featured Mendes for his dynamic style and dominance, but his performance in this event was a little uninspired.
Although Rafa displayed just how smooth and beautiful his berimbolo attack can be, he was unable to get it to find it’s mark against a very skilled Clark Gracie. It is not my intention to take away from Clark’s performance in my critique of Mendes, rather a critique of Rafa’s approach to the match. Even after 15 minutes of solid berimbolo defense from Gracie, Mendes refused to try a different strategy. Now, I realize I am now calling for a top competitor to play outside his game (something against our scientific analysis’), but Rafa is being debated as one of the best grapplers on the planet. Surely, he could have tried to showcase himself in another area in which he is dominant. Those that watch his AOJ rolling videos were waiting for those flashes of pure domination seen on film. But Mendes seemed determined to stick to a plan that was doomed from the start. The frustration from many seems to really stem form the conservative approach this seems to be from someone who is being debated as one of the best in the game right now. Fair or unfair, a draw wasn’t good enough for Rafael Mendes.
Winner: Eddie Bravo (and his No-Gi techniques), Royler, and the fans
Most fans, myself included, saw the Royler-Bravo matchup as a one-sided affair waiting to happen. As the match began, it looked like that was exactly what it was going to be. However, Bravo showed a lot of heart dealing with the unrelenting pressure passing of Royler early on (someone who made that style of passing famous). Bravo was then successfully able to execute several of his patented sweeps and submission attempts to one of the greatest of all time. The match was back and forth, and ultimately Bravo proved to be more than just a game opponent. He showed that he belonged in that environment, and that many of the techniques he has often been criticized for hold legitimate application. Bravo did exactly what he was trying to do for years, prove that he could compete with Royler, and that his first win wasn’t some kind of fluke.
Royler and Bravo both come out looking very good after such a great fight. It was the most exciting of the night and included two competitors with a combined age of 90! Both should inspire the next generation on a series of different levels. While I think everyone on the planet would be excited to see a third match, I am quite sure that will be the last time either fighter competes ever again.
Loser: Those that didn’t purchase the live stream
I’m sure many will now complain that we are schilling for Metamoris, but the truth is we’re not…at all. For those that are podcast listeners, you know that Jena and I have never advocated sub-only events. We have also both criticized past events as well. However, this event was a great event to watch, and ended up being a very entertaining production. It was far from perfect in just about every faucet, but it was good enough for anyone that is a fan of jiu jitsu to enjoy. As the rules and production quality evolve, it should be expected that this type of entertainment should continue. It still isn;t to level that the average person could enjoy, but we are fast approaching that era in my opinion.
Most of all, those that missed out on Gracie-Bravo II will never be able to duplicate the intensity of watching that match live. Although the video is widely available online right now, watching the event live felt historical. It was a throwback to the early legendary matches of jiu jitsu that live in todays history books. If you missed it, you truly missed out.
Winner: Kevin Casey
Many only know Kevin Casey by reputation only. Casey is famous for several jiu jitsu controversy’s, including but not limited to; the Spencer Pratt fiasco. However, to take a grappling match on that huge stage against one of the best in the world on only a few hours notice is incredible. It showed true bravery and very little ego. Kevin performed very admirable at the start of the match, and although he faded in the second half, he showcased good technique and was able execute some initiatives against Keenan that few others would have had success with.
Ultimately, I’m not sure it was simply a win-win opportunity by choosing to take the match. Had Casey gone out there and gotten tapped in 2 minutes or less, the crowd would have felt cheated, and Casey himself would have looked like a chump for thinking he could compete with someone of Keenan’s caliber on short notice. However, he competed very well and ended up looking as good as anyone else on the card.
What are your thoughts on M3?