For the fifth time, Metamoris will bring its unique blend of high-level submission fighters, mixed martial arts (MMA) talent, and submission-only grappling to audiences around the world.
At this point, Metamoris is undoubtedly the best promotion for providing interesting grappling match ups to fans of the sport. That's because -- at its heart -- Metamoris is all about the viewer, as its commentary and production values are top notch.
In addition, Metamoris does its best to provide matches that are intriguing to both casual sport grappling fans and hardcore devotees. So far, that's been accomplished by bringing in a mix of famous names from MMA (see Sonnen, Chael), the most credentialed grapplers in the world, and generally exciting jiu-jitsu up-and-comers.
Now, Metamoris is experimenting with a new idea: "legends matches." Though not officially named as such, fans of Renzo Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba are more than excited to watch their old favorites compete in a sport that's not likely to further damage their bodies.
It's too early to be certain, but this seems likely to be a major success. Already, fans are savoring potential match ups of MMA super fights that fell through, such as Fedor Emelianenko vs. Randy Couture.
Before getting into predictions, it's important to remember the Metamoris scoring system. Namely, there isn't one. Competitors have 20 minutes to submit their opponents, otherwise the match is a draw. It doesn't matter how dominant a grappler was positionally or how often he threatened with submissions, it's a tie unless there is a tap out.
With that in mind, let's look at how these competitors match up.
Kazushi Sakuraba +450 vs. Renzo Gracie +400 (Draw -250)
Sakuraba is a legendary catch wrestling specialist. During his prime years back in PRIDE FC, Sakuraba's ultra quick single leg takedown and brutal joint locks were among the best in the sport. Just ask his upcoming opponent, as Sakuraba famously snapped Gracie's arm way back at PRIDE 10.
Both before and after that bout, Sakuraba made his name at the expense of the Gracies, consistently out-grappling the Brazilians.
Gracie is, shockingly, the representative of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in this match. Now the owner of a successful jiu-jitsu gym and fight team, Gracie has been focused on coaching since his awful loss to Matt Hughes in 2010.
In his spare time, Gracie enjoys terrorizing New York's muggers.
Both men are excellent technical grapplers, so this bout will likely come down to the conditioning of both men. Furthermore, the wear and tear on their bodies from years of fighting will likely have a major impact on the result of this bout as well.
Bearing both of those factors in mind, I have to lean towards Renzo Gracie. While both men retired around the same time, Gracie has been actively involved in the fight world and therefore is most likely in some type of shape. On the other hand, Sakuraba is well-known for chain smoking, drinking, and was getting savaged in the final bouts of his MMA career.
I think the Japanese fighter will show his heart for the umpteenth time, which will carry him to the final bell. However, Gracie will likely out-grapple him late and generally control the bout.
Rory McDonald +798 vs. JT Torres -226 (Draw +226)
In Metamoris' usual "MMA stud vs. Jiu-Jitsu ace" match up, we have two incredibly talented young athletes.
McDonald may not be forcing submissions inside the cage, but he still impresses each time the fight hits the mat. Plus, he also carries a fairly significant size advantage in this match.
A NoGi champion in both the Pan American games and Worlds, the 23 year old is a very active pursuer of the finish and on his way to becoming a frequent of Metamoris events. In addition, Torres is from Andre Galvao's Atos Academy, one of the best grappling gyms in the world.
As the odds indicate, this is much more a question of whether or not Torres can finish
"The Waterboy" "Ares" "The Red King" before the final bell sounds. McDonald may be an excellent grappler in MMA, but it's a different world on the jiu-jitsu circuit.
In this case, I'm going to go with the upset. McDonald showed both excellent composure and technique when mounted by Demian Maia, whose an incredibly accomplished grappler. Now, the addition of punches and gloves can complicate things for Maia, but it still says good things about McDonald's defensive grappling.
Plus, that size advantage could help him out if things go south.
Yuri Simoes +399 vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. +230 (Draw -175)
Simoes is a black belt with Caio Terra's academy that has won numerous major tournaments in the non-black belt divisions. In 2012, Simoes actually defeated Lovato Jr. via advantage, an accomplishment the 24-year-old grappler will look to replicate more decisively.
More recently, he earned a points victory over BJJ wunderkind Keenan Cornelius.
Lovato Jr. -- a staple of these Metamoris cards -- is perhaps the most accomplished American born grappler of all time. Known for his intelligent approach to the game, Lovato Jr. has been in there with some of the best grapplers in history, such as Roger Gracie and Andre Galvao.
This should be a close, technical, and fairly high-paced match up. Though it will likely end up as a draw, I'm feeling patriotic and therefore expect Lovato Jr. to go American all over everybody's ass.
Ideally, with a rear naked choke.
Vinny Magalhaes vs. ???
At the moment of this writing, there's no word as to who will fill in for the injured Kevin Casey. Luckily, most up-and-coming jiu-jitsu competitors are basically starving (martial) artists, so there's surely someone in California will to step up against the rubber guard specialist.
Garry Tonon +227 vs. Zak Maxwell +383 (Draw -157)
In this match up of young grapplers, crazy scrambles are likely the only certainty.
Tonon -- who's faced off with expert grapplers like Keenan Cornelius, Kron Gracie, and even heavyweight "Buchecha" Almeida -- is a Ricardo Almeida black belt who had major success in brown belt divisions.
Similarly, Maxwell is another young jiu-jitsu ace. The Gracie Humaitá competitor shocked quite a few people when he out-pointed Kron Gracie, confirming that he's a top grappler.
I actually have my foot in both camps here. Having seen Tonon compete in person multiple times at a local grappling promotion, I can say with certainty that he is an excellent jiu-jitsu player. On the other hand, Maxwell's father is Steve Maxwell, a Relson Gracie black belt and fitness guru...
As well as my instructor, John Hassett's, first jiu-jitsu coach.
With all that in mind, I'll again go with the underdog, Zak Maxwell. During a scramble, he'll find his trademark omoplata and finish the match.
Renzo Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba: Draw
Rory McDonald vs. JT Torres: Draw
Yuri Simoes vs. Rafael Lovato Jr.: Lovato Jr. by submission
Vinny Magalhaes vs. ?
Gary Tonon vs. Zak Maxwell: Maxwell by submission
There you have it!