When the card for Metamoris 6 was initially announced, Garry Tonon was on it. Soon after we (the BJJ community) got a big reveal: Garry Tonon was off the card because he refused to sign a contract with Metamoris. A contract? What?!
Metamoris offered Garry Tonon somewhere in the realm of $140,000 a year to compete for them, guaranteeing that he would only compete at ADCC and IBJJF competitions otherwise. In the world of Jiu Jitsu 140k is a dream, it is unheard of, and Garry Tonon publicly rejected it. Why? Because he felt it would hurt Jiu Jitsu and because he felt it would restrict him in an unacceptable way.
For starters, I think its amazing that an organization, ANY organization, has begun offering exclusive contracts in BJJ. I think that it speaks volumes to the growth of the sport, and I think that the reality that it illustrates is a good one. The reality is there is enough money and viewership to justify large contracts. The reality is that in spite of any indiscretions Ralek Gracie has committed, his organization is breaking ground in a potential new era of Jiu Jitsu.
The reality is that if this trend continues, professional Jiu Jitsu will ultimately be an attainable goal for remarkable athletes. In the past, income has always required substantial supplement either from teaching or from having a day job. The Jiu Jitsu life is one that you really have to want to live, and availability of contracts that would provide for a good standard of living are crucial to the health of the sport.
But wait a minute; Garry Tonon rejected the contract because he felt it was BAD for the sport Well Garry Tonon has a point.
Obviously as soon as you enter cash contracts, fighters lose a degree of their free agency. Theres a word in that sentence that should bother you if you believe in the purity of grappling: Free, as in Freedom, as in when you sign a contract you belong (to a certain degree) to the company with whom you have signed.
There has already been an instance of a jiujiteiro pulling off of another Sub Only card because of their agreement with Metamoris. That event is now short a big name. That could be majorly problematic to the industry.
What it all comes down to is that Metamoris is being daring by offering these high dollar contracts, and hopefully for the sport this works out and other organizations are able to compete with Metamoris. If, however, Metamoris falls apart as a result of expending more resources than they have, there could be a cascade effect. Competitors need to bear in mind that when they sign with Metamoris they may be burning bridges elsewhere. Other organizations may see Metamoris signed competitors as persona non grata. Theres a lot of talent in Jiu Jitsu, a lot of big names willing to put it out there for the love of the art, and Metamoris cant and wont sign all of them.
Like many, I really want this sport to grow and be healthy and strong. Metamoris offering of high dollar contracts is both a sign that we are heading in that direction as well as a potentially troubling factor. The next few events will show us the direction of the sport. These are exciting times to be a jiujiteiro.
Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj and www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer