This past weekend, the pro grappling scene was rocked by the premature wrap up of the inaugural Emerald City Invitational held at the historic 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA. The early end caused the final match of the 170lb tournament to be rushed through, and the final superfight featuring Jon Calestine and Rey De Leon to be fully cancelled. Social Media was soon abuzz with speculation, rumors of the onsite physician calling it quits as well as other salacious rumors quickly gaining traction. We were able to uncover a bit more info about what exactly transpired, and what the future holds for the event.
“I’ve talked to Seth Daniels and other promoters, no one has ever seen something like this,” event co-founder Sam Micale said in an interview with the JJT.
A BJJ purple belt and MMA fighter, Micale described the process of funding and launching the event as a herculean task. And while the event itself is now cast in a controversial light, the matches they did put on showcased some of the best top shelf jiu-jitsu available in the world today.
Stacked with competitors from numerous high level gyms, the event featured the aforementioned 170lb tournament as well as two superfights.
The only one we got, 10P black belt Luis Quinones vs DDS athlete Frank Rosenthal, certainly did NOT disappoint. Their respective backgrounds and early attempts at leg attacks did nothing but add further shock to the audience when Quinones locked in a back take towards the end of the match. Rosenthal was then locked in a mysteriously complex looking spine lock, and gave the verbal tap.
It turned out to be a phenomenal night for 10P, as PJ Barch and Alan Sanchez both tore though tough competitors to reach the finals of the night’s tournament. But then, while Sanchez was busy defeating JZ Cavalcante, an announcement was dispersed through the crowd by event staff and in the know attendees. Sanchez would fight Barch in the finals immediately with no rest, and the super fight between Calestine and De Leon would be scrapped.
Barch took home the title and 6k, but remarkably few attendees cared. What happened, and why was the show cut off?
“He [The Doctor] went to us saying, ‘I was told 9pm, I have to be on-call at 6 am tomorrow morning,’ and I was shocked,” Micale said. Flanked by cofounder Andrea Scalisi, the two outlined the background of the mix up.
“There was a miscommunication within the [PA Athletic] Commission, we were sure to give them the right time schedule for the event,” Scalisi said.
Thanks to several attendees intervening, a majority from gym and event sponsor Studio 84, the doctor was convinced to stay for one last match. Micale quickly conversed with all four fighters, who consented to the situation. Security then quickly ushered folks out of the arena and closed everything down.
The two were heartbroken at the situation, and expressed many sympathies to the fighters inconvenienced by the mishap.
“We’re gonna take care of all of those guys,” Micale said. He then outlined the promotions plans for a second event this summer, featuring many of the names on the first show such as Calestine and Quinones along with fresh faces. “Those guys ate 100% in,” Micale said. The venue is still to be determined, and may well return to the 2300 Arena.
For more details, check out the full interview linked here!