Metamoris is a silly name for a Jiu Jitsu event, but “Gracies in Action” was already taken.
Forget the name, though. Let’s focus on the fact that a fantasy for every Jiu Jitsu fan just took place – 20 minute submission-only superfights between some of the best competitors in the world. For an event where only half of the matches had a deciding result, it was nonstop excitement and still felt very satisfying. I was thoroughly impressed with the performances of all of the athletes involved. And, although some technical issues were apparent in the live-stream, I was equally impressed by the first time promotion. Well worth the $20 for the stream since each fight brought a unique experience and excitement.
Metamoris Pro trailer
Caio Terra vs. Jeff Glover
Glover taps. Budovideos photo.
The first Jiu Jitsu match of the evening gives us a rematch between two elite grapplers with unfinished business. Their last encounter at the World Jiu Jitsu Expo ended with Glover scoring a win on points in a close match. After the match fans argued that the match would have been decided in a longer, submission-only fight. It was a fantasy at the time, which is the key to the appeal of the Metamoris Pro. It’s essentially a collection of all of the potential matches that are bandied about on the internet message boards by Jiu Jitsu fans.
The match started with Terra sitting to the slowest guard pull ever, before launching into a berimbolo sweep. Terra tried a few berimbolos in this match, and I love the way he brought his knee in before crossing his ankles in order to sweep to the leg drag while preventing the footlock. At least that was the plan, but Glover kept snagging tight toe-holds that only failed due to Terra’s inhumanly flexible ankles.
The first exchange ended with both men on their feet, after which Glover performed his now-signature move of giving his back. Unlike their last encounter, Caio doesn’t attack but playfully spanks Glover showing that any hard feelings from their last match are no more.
Once on top, Terra’s gameplan was to work the armlock, which he did with determination as Glover defended for several minutes before giving up the tap as Terra used a beautiful grip break and an unorthodox foot position on Glover’s neck to secure the submission.
Both athletes were the models of sportsmanship after the match, which is unusual after a match between these particular athletes. Glover, whose showboating has drawn scorn, hoisted Terra in the air after the match. While Caio Terra is often criticized for his post-fight interviews, he was nothing but class as Rener Gracie stuck the microphone in his face.
Jeff Glover vs. Caio Terra – Metamoris Pro
Rafael Lovato Jr. vs. Kayron Gracie
Lovato’s Kimura. Budovideos photo.
This match again took competitors from different weight classes that would likely put on a great match. Kayron was the first Gracie family member to fight in the event. Metamoris tried to provide a showcase of each branch of the Gracie family, with Kayron representing his father Carlos Gracie Jr.’s Gracie Barra organization. Kron and Ryron represented different philosophies of the Helio lineage. While Roger is part of the Gracie Barra organization, his unique style seems to be more of a reflection of his coral-belt father, Mauricio Gomes, who studied under Rolls Gracie. There were also several Americans in the event, with Lovato being the most decorated American gi competitor thus far.
Kayron has a nice ankle pick sweep to begin the match and was able to demonstrate his relentless passing. The Gracie Barra competitor’s guard is very highly regarded and his passing attempts looked sharp as well. Not sharp enough to get past the equally adept Lovato, who used a knee-reap to attack the footlock then get on top. Did I mention reaping the knee was legal at Metamoris? Well it was, and not a single submission or injury resulted from its use in almost every match. Something to keep in mind next time you get instantly disqualified for identically crossing that magic line on the hip.
Once on top Lovato provided a capable advertisement for his new pressure passing video series as he passed to the back and locked in a tight armbar. Kayron was able to escape, but as they reset Lovato was able to pass again to north-south. From the north-south position Lovato used his shin to pin Kayron’s arm and set up a beautiful Kimura lock. He shucked the arm back and forth before wrenching in back for a quick tap by Kayron. It was a vintage Lovato performance. The man from Oklahoma has never looked sharper.
Kayron Gracie vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. – Metamoris Pro
Kron Gracie vs. Otavio Sousa
Aftermath. Budovideos photo.
Kron Gracie said some wonderful things in his post-fight interview, giving complete respect to the accomplishments of World Champion Otavio Sousa, and acknowledging that Otavio has earned a title of which Kron has fallen short. But this match was Kron’s and he lived up to the challenge, armbarring Otavio after one of the most even matches of the night.
If one was being cynical they would point out that Kron has beat Otavio twice before at brown belt, and the optics of facing the heavier reigning champion that BJJ-math suggests you can beat again would make another effective advertisement for the Gracie name. But that would be a hell of gamble to take, as Otavio beat some of the best middle weights in the world and fought Leandro Lo, who lost to* Kron in 2011, to a draw at Copa Podio
Kron has a difficult position, having to live up to being the “filho de homem” due to his father Rickson being considered as an almost saintly figure in Jiu Jitsu circles. Kron has managed to allow his Jiu Jitsu to speak for itself, and will likely earn his own world title in the upcoming few years. He took a large step towards this goal this evening, submitting Octavio with a beautiful armbar from the knee on belly position. Rener declared it the best submission of the night. I jumped out of my seat and clapped as Kron wrenched Octavio’s arm back, and almost woke my napping wife and daughter in the process.
The match up until that point was a back and forth battle of sweeps that was mainly fought from closed guard. As it progressed it became apparent that the first guard pass would win. This is where to longer time limit became important. As the much stronger Otavio began to tire Kron used an underhook on the legs to shuck past Otavio’s guard, and exposed the arm as he worked for the back.
After the match I think all watching agreed with Kron Gracie, “That’s the beauty of Jiu Jitsu.”
Dean Lister vs. Alexandre Ribeiro
Almost every match featured an armbar attempt. This one Lister escaped.
The only no-gi match at Metamoris Pro demonstrated some of the best that no-gi has to offer; it was fast-paced, technical and brought the audience to their feet numerous times. Lister’s Tatami rashguard proclaimed him the “Footlock Tsar” in case anyone forgot his performance at ADCC last year.
The American, Lister, began by attacking for the takedown relentlessly, setting up double leg shots with 2-on-1s and underhooks, while Xande played a safer, defensive game. As Lister grew frustrated he sat guard, where he bore the full brunt of Xande’s crushing guard passing. Lister’s guard was passed several times, with the Ribeiro brother snatching a Kimura grip each time. And each time Rener made sure to accentuate the “i” as a long “e” each time he mentioned it to the audience.
Rener also made sure to repeatedly tell the audience that Lister will sometimes let his opponent lock in a submission in order to escape. It seemed like a foolhardy plan against Xande, but Lister proved Rener right as he escaped from Xande’s fully locked out armbar that Xande set up after sweeping and getting on Lister’s back.
Ryron Gracie vs. Andre Galvao
When you fight to win a draw is a loss.
Ryron Gracie walked onto the mat at Metamoris Pro with a smile that showed he knew something that we didn’t, and half-way through his match it became obvious what that was. Metamoris Pro was billed as an event where only a submission could win. But what Ryron knew was that he was changing the rules. He knew that a draw against Galvao was just as good as a win, because it showed off the defense orientated Gracie Jiu Jitsu that the brothers have been actively pushing their entire lives.
Throughout the event Ryron’s brother Rener, acting as commentator, interspersed figurative Gracie Jiu Jitsu commercials in between literal ones. But the brothers’ crowning achievement, what they had bet on the entire event, and won, was that draw against Galvao.
And you know what? It worked.
It was just as impressive as it should have been. However, if you were excepting a competitive match it would have been as frustrating to watch as it obviously was for Galvao to compete in. Galvao repeatedly showcased his well-honed guard passing in the hunt for a lapel choke. Gracie mounted almost zero offence until 15 minutes in, when he attempted a footlock then returned to defending against the Galvao blitzkrieg.
If Ryron entered the Worlds he would likely win a few matches before losing to the top competitors like Galvao. And that would be respectable. But by fighting for a draw in a submission-only even Ryron was able to finally show the world the strength of his expression of the side of Jiu Jitsu that’s about more than winning tournaments.
After the dust settled it was clear that the agenda of Metamoris Pro was to prove defensive Jiu Jitsu is equally important as offence. The commentating team made sure to highlight the submission escapes almost more than the passes as sweeps. After all, when victory is dictated exclusively whether or not a submission occurs, the ability to survive becomes equally as important as improving position. At least that was the thesis of the evening.
Andre Galvao vs. Ryron Gracie – Metamoris Pro
Roger Gracie vs. Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida
Going into this thing I decided that the only way Metamoris would be satisfying would be if there was a submission in main event between Roger and Buchecha. It turns out we didn’t need a submission for the event to feel like it came to an appropriate climax.
This match was bonkers. While each mach was interesting and exciting in its own way the final was an amazing display by both competitors, albeit one that leaned more towards the younger and fresher Buchecha as the 20 minutes ticked by. This is contrary to my assumption that the longer the match lasted the more likely it would be to see a once-inevitable Roger Gracie submission.
But Buchecha brought the fight to the legend, the same way he did to the field at the 2012 World Jiu Jitsu Championships, and ended up with an armlock that Roger admitted probably did some damage. Roger escaped, however, and the match ended in a draw. The competitors and the crowd alike knew however, that the hungry newcomer had just unseated one of the foremost practitioners the art of Jiu Jitsu has ever seen. This was a landmark event in the Jiu Jitsu world, and one that wouldn’t have been possible without the unique rules offered by the Metamoris organization.
Roger was fighting for a sweep from the de la Riva guard at different points that put him in the turtle position with Buchecha’s leg trapped between his. It didn’t seem to get him anywhere with it. Buchecha sweeps were powerful and on point throughout, however, floating Roger with two tornado sweeps before launching the veteran competitor with a massive hook sweep from butterfly guard.
Midway through the match what Roger fans were waiting for finally happened. Gracie got passed guard as Buchecha tried to re-guard from turtle. In the past, this would have started the clock that counted down for the inevitable cross collar choke submission. But this time Buchecha was able to reclaim the guard, giving pause to all those used to Roger’s long reign of domination on the mat. Even Roger seemed surprised, “When Buchecha escaped from my side control, I knew it took me a little time to realize that the fight was going to be different”.
Buchecha was the more successful of the two at submission attempts, with a tight toehold early in the match and then the lightning-fast armlock in the waning seconds. The armlock was setup from a berimbolo sweep as Buchecha forced Roger to turn away. The 22-year-old CheckMat fighter bypassed the back mount as he flew right into the armbar, turning Gracie on his back.
This was my favourite match of the night. And the revelation that Roger fought with a brutal staph infection that limited his training and weakened him with antibiotic treatments allowed fans to have it both ways. It protects Roger’s legacy somewhat and we still get the exciting victory of the young Cavaca student. I mean draw, whatever.
Roger Gracie vs. Marcus Almeida – Metamoris Pro
The Metamoris event can be seen as a survey of the state of the Gracie family and the sport of Jiu Jitsu in 2012. Some, like Kron, Kayron and Roger, are considered among the best sport competitors in the world. Others like Ryron and Rener and aggressively pushing the self-defense aspects of the art and finally had the chance to showcase their side of the art.
Put together by promoters Robert Zeps and the Ralek Gracie, Metamoris Pro proved that it was a top-tier event in the vein of the new breed of Jiu Jitsu promotions like the Copa Podio and the Jiu Jitsu Expo. I look forward to seeing more from this organization, with the caveat that they need to resolve some minor technical issues before they can be a dominant player in the sport. As a final example of the quality of the first-ever Metamoris Pro, as soon as it was over I watched it again twice more.
- Over 8000 people paid $20 for the live stream (that’s $160,000 gross in streaming revenue alone). Does anyone know how much each athlete was making to show?
- There was a proposed $5000 submission of the night bonus on top of each match having an individual submission bonus. But then each of the three submissions earned the extra bonus. It looks like the event must have made some cash.
- Even though I mentioned that Rener turned the event into a Gracie Jiu Jitsu commercial at times, the commentary was excellent throughout the event.
- Someone decided that some of the athletes’ belt knots should be taped up. I find this hilarious, since they can’t stall for time by fixing their belt.
- My only production-related request for Metamoris event: get rid of the weird blue tint.
- Did anyone catch the picture that was sewed into the inside of Kron’s gi? What was that all about?
- Glover’s purple glasses and rockstar eyebrow slick made up for his loss to Caio.
- Imagine if a second event only featured the people corning the fighters tonight: Renzo, Rickson, Cavaca, Feitosa and Saulo, among others. I’d watch it.