Felipe Pena took home a narrow decision victory at Tezos WNO this Saturday against late replacement Nicholas “Nicky Rod” Rodriguez — but the win wasn’t without controversy.
The match saw several razor-thin wars for dominance between both men, as well as a few near-submissions. Though Nicky Rod originally looked like he wanted to wrestle up, Felipe Pena foiled those plans with an immediate guard pull. Undaunted, Rodriguez began to implement his patented “Rody Lock” body lock passing system. The match looked similar, in many ways, to the last scrap we saw between these two at ADCC 2022, showcasing a classic war between a top-heavy, aggressive passer, and a wily open guard player.
Felipe Pena, notably, mimed a greasing accusation against Nicky Rod, beckoning the referee, who obliged by pausing the match to wipe down both athletes. Nicky Rod, for his part, didn’t appear bothered by the accusation, and stuck to his game plan as soon as action resumed.
Pena broke up the rhythm a couple times in the first half of the match. First, he attacked an omoplata that forced Rodriguez to roll out and wrestle out to escape a potentially inferior position. Moments later, while defending a leg attack from Nicky Rod, Pena nearly found his way to Rodriguez’s back, forcing Nicky Rod, in turn, to defend a takedown. Both moments led to crowd-pleasing scrambles, though they ultimately reset the pair in their original positions as passer and guard player, with neither emerging the clear winner of the exchange.
Pena began opening up his game more during the second half of the match, at one point attacking a guillotine that Nicky Rod postured aggressively to escape. Minutes later, he scored a sweep on Rodriguez, who fired back by diving on a foot lock. Nicky Rod’s submission attempt gave Pena the chance to once more chase Rodriguez’s back — a dangerous position that Nicky Rod narrowly escaped.
The action continued to heat up as minutes wore on, with both men finding near-dominant positions several times, but largely finding themselves forced back to neutral positions. In particular, Nicky Rod fell back for a nasty-looking leg attack in the waning minutes of the match. Though Pena didn’t tap, and eventually freed his leg, it was arguably one of the most dangerous submission attempts launched between the two.
At the end of thirty minutes, Pena eked out a controversial decision win that had half the crowd booing, and the other half cheering. Pena remained gracious, calling Nicky Rod a “true warrior” for taking the match on short notice. He was also quick to call out his originally scheduled opponent, Gordon Ryan — even offering to remain in town for one more week to face Gordon next Saturday.
Meanwhile, several underdogs on the main card won big over the betting favorites, including Rene Sousa, who caught a slick, bonus-winning kneebar against Kieran Kichuk, and Jasmine Rocha, who in the final minute of her match, submitted an otherwise impressively dominant Amanda Bruse. Jonnatas Gracie also showcased positional dominance over New Wave fan favorite Oliver Taza, while Pedro Marinho won a clear-cut decision over ADCC 2022 champion Giancarlo Bodoni.
Of course, some matches turned out more or less as predicted, chief among them JT Torres’ victory via a clinic in positional dominance over Magid Hage. However, many would agree that Hage deserves his flowers for successfully evading a submission win from a legendary veteran in Torres.
Full Main Card Results
Felipe Pena def. Nicholas Rodriguez by decision
Pedro Marinho def. Giancarlo Bodoni by decision
JT Torres def. Magid Hade by decision
Jonnatas Gracie def. Oliver Taza by decision
Jasmine Rocha def. Amanda Bruse by submission (no-gi ezekiel)
Rene Sousa def. Kieran Kichuk by submission (kneebar)