Five Grappling’s Super League: Welterweight Pro Invitational will be streaming live, December 3, on FloGrappling.
Recently, the Jiu-Jitsu Times spoke to one of the men who made it possible, BJJ black belt and HONU BJJ co-owner, Shawn Fowler.
Here is what he had to say.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What got you into BJJ? How long have you been practicing it and whom did you receive your black belt from?
Shawn Fowler: After years of working with athletes on medicals, contractual obligations, match making, and promoting MMA with Total Combat (2001-2008) and other major MMA promotions such as WEC, Strikeforce, DREAM, and the UFC, I started hosting In House BJJ Tournaments (2004).
For some time, many of my friends tried to get me to start training. When I finally stepped on the mat in 2005 to do some no-gi, I hated it. I felt so uncomfortable. I tried it again in early 2006 in the gi, and this time, I forced myself to go for a couple of weeks before making a decision. I felt as though, if I was going to host events, I needed to have the validity and credentials to be industry expert otherwise people wouldn’t respect what I was doing as a whole.
From that moment on the mat, I was hooked. Training in the gi was a puzzle that could never be solved. Since 2006, I train usually four to five times a week including strength and conditioning, competing as often as my schedule will permit. I received my black belt after 8.5 years from Saulo and Xande Ribeiro out of the world-famous University of Jiu Jitsu in 2014. I now co-own a pair of jiu-jitsu academies in San Diego, with partner, Branden Guptill, called HONU BJJ.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: For those who aren’t familiar with it, tell us about Five Grappling. How is it different from other tournaments like EBI, Fight To Win Pro, or Metamoris?
Shawn Fowler: Five Grappling blasted on the scene and made a wave in 2013-2015. We traveled across North America (U.S & Canada) and at the time, I was the Director of Operations. We set the bar high and made the event as prestigious as possible, giving the competitors a first class tournament as far as organization and innovation. Also, the fans of the sport were always treated to seeing the sports elite at both our amateur and pro events.
In 2015, Five main owner, Dayan Henson, was facing some major health issues so we had to put the brakes on the open competitions temporarily. However, it was that year that the 5 Super League was created. The first event featured an 8-man and 8-woman bracket, as well as two amazing super fights.
The men’s bracket was an open weight no-gi bracket which saw Tim Spriggs emerge as champion defeating Bruno Bastos, Lucas Rocha, and Yuri Simoes in the finals. In the women’s bracket, we had none other than Mackenzie Dern crowned champion as well, as she defeated Tammi Musumeci, Fabiana Borges, and Karen Antunes (all by submission). That same day we also had the legendary rematch between Garry Tonon and Joao Miyao, as well as Keenan Cornelius against Otavio Sousa (videos to be released soon).
Our next event is scheduled for December 3rd and it is going to be amazing. This time our 8-man will be the Welterweight Division (Under 170lbs) in the gi, in one of the most stacked divisions ever. Any one of these matches could easily be a huge superfight in any other organization. On December 3rd, we will have Dillon Danis*, Sean Roberts, Brian Morizi, John Combs, Marcelo Mafra, Edwin Najmi, Bill Cooper, and Michael Liera Jr., all compete for the first ever Welterweight Pro Title, and on the same night we will have an amazing undercard featuring some of THE BEST talent currently in Southern California. From the top female brown belts in the world to some of SoCal’s most well-known black belt instructors. The undercard of this event is amazing by itself.
WELCOME MANSHER KHERA // Unfortunately Dillon Danis was forced to withdraw from this weekend's 8 Man Welterweight Pro Invitational. Replacing him will be his team mate, Mansher Khera. Khera just recently won the ADCC North America Trials and is regarded as Marcelo Garcia's top Black belts. #AssembleThe8 #5SL #5superleague #professionaljiujitsu
The other events you mentioned are doing such an amazing job in the sport. Each event is contributing to the growth of professional jiu-jitsu in its own way. However, we have a different goal and vision and we feel strongly that we can present a very professional and entertaining jiu-jitsu tournament league, as we have done from the start.
Our first attempt at a professional format was done back in 2013 with the California Invitational https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUmxba3cuP8 which had an amazing 5-man Round Robin bracket (Keenan Cornelius, Garry Tonon, Jackson Sousa, James Puopolo, & Beneil Dariush). And we have come a long way since then, made some mistakes, and learned a lot of lessons. But we feel that as long as we continue to do our job and receive the amazing support from the jiu-jitsu community like we have always done, expect to see some great things from Five Super League in the future.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What do you think Five Grappling will be like ten or or even twenty years from now. How big do you think it will be?
Shawn Fowler: Maintaining the vision we’ve had since we started Five. Our vision is for Five to be here long term and provide a professional platform for the jiu-jitsu stars. If we succeed, then perhaps in ten or twenty years, we will have established ourselves as without a doubt one of the best professional and amateur jiu-jitsu events ever. We hope that Five could one day be a professional league where competitors can compete regularly and make a living without having to cross over to MMA. This will take a lot of time and hard work but that’s what keeps it fun.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times: Last but not least, any shout-outs?
Shawn Fowler: First and foremost thank you to all of the competitors and fans who have stuck with the promotion since 2013, when we tried to do something different for our sport. We have had an overwhelming amount of support not only here in North America, but we get messages worldwide of people who loved what we have done. Even though we consider it just the beginning. A huge thanks to Dayan Henson for starting this organization and dedicating his time and resources to Five. Thank you to him for appointing me as official director of operations and giving me that trust to run this awesome organization.
*Dillon Danis was forced to withdraw from the event. Replacing him will be Mansher Khera.