I… I need to sit down.
Today we all got to witness some of the most frenetic gi grappling to ever grace the Polaris stage courtesy of their second “Squads” showcase, and man do I need a smoke.
On top of featuring the crème de la crème of trans-atlantic BJJ by way of teams UK and Europe (insert Brexit joke here)alongside a great 145 championship super fight, we also got to witness one of the most profane, blasphemous moments in the history of people doing violence to each other.
An Ezekiel choke putting a guy to sleep FROM INSIDE CLOSED GUARD.
Now let me repeat this for you. I don’t mean the guy on bottom getting it on the guy in guard. I mean the guy inside closed guard pulled it off on his foor-bound opponent.
Now trust me, We’ll get into that craziness later. First, hats off to team Europe for their phenomenal victory. We’ll be going over some of the standout matches of the evening before dissecting that antichrist move which shall not be named. (Also Tommy Langaker going out with repeat finishes was like seeing a bear at a buffet.)
Divided into two rounds with a super fight buffer, the event flew by for how many five-minute rounds we got. Beginning with a more tepid faceoff between UK captain Arya Esfandmaz and EU’s Tommi Pulkkananen, round two kicked things into gear with Carlson Gracie London’s Sam Gibson against fellow black belt Max Limblad. A double pull into 50/50 guard, Gibson worked off his back for a leg lock as Max began to pass. Though eventually getting the leg drag, Max’s top pressure was met with stern opposition from Gibson as he went to regain his guard. Resetting to the middle after passing, Max threatened several lapel chokes as a means of loosening Gibson’s defense. Finally going all in on a paper cutter, the European unfortunately runs out of time as both are eliminated from the draw.
Moving on to a standout in round two, we saw a barnburner between UK’s Jamie Paxman and Espen Mathisen. For the entire fight we saw Paxman fight out of some truly unwinnable looking positions. Getting caught in a reverse triangle in the first half, the UK native kept a calm outlook as he picked his battles. Pulling to closed guard, Paxman almost immediately had to escape back to back bolos from Espen while staying on the attack. Constantly inverting, Espen was able to pass to mount multiple times and lock up a reverse triangle before Paxman escaped. Despite a final mounted triangle attempt, Espen was unable to get the finish and the two were done in the second half. A truly resilient effort from both men!
The championship super fight gave the viewers a look at how a match can really shift like sand the longer it goes on. Repeated Polaris standout Ash Williams looked absolutely stopped by the noodle-like guard of Irishman Tom Halpin. The pressure passer was met with roadblocks as Halpin repeatedly threatened heel hooks and kneebars for the first third. But as the match went on, the physicality and leglock defense from Ash kept him on top as Tom began to falter. When the attack speed started to let up, Ash was able to overtake the last two thirds of the fight with passing and a nasty head and arm choke. Going for a triangle as the clock sounded, the resurgence of energy won Ash the 145 strap.
Now, onto the Ezekiel in the room…
Romanian grappler Dinu Bucaleț pulled off a massively rare achievement in his match against Tyrone Elliott. Being put in closed guard early, Din began moving his hand behind Elliott’s head in a familiar manner that did not go unnoticed by the commentary team.
Now, we’ve all seen a white belt (Or a certain blue belt journalist) talk about this being a good idea. We’re not authorities on things working; don’t trust us.
But this isn’t some casual, this is a high level athlete doing a move that would get any other belt chewed out by their coach. As the disbelief crept across my face, a childlike hope emerged as the commentators began treating the tactic with more respect. And before I’d even fully processed what had happened, the reff stepped in to save an abruptly unconscious Elliott.
The dream is real.
It was a night full of intense grips and herculean feats of guard passing. A huge congrats to all the athletes along with Polaris for putting on such an amazing show. Here’s to Squads 2!
- Arya Esfandmaz vs. Tonmi Pulkkanen: DRAW
- Sam Gibson vs. Max Lindblad: DRAW
- Bradley Hill vs. Espen Mathiesen: DRAW
- Marcos Nardini vs. Tommy Langaker: Tommy Langaker via Triangle.
- Bryn Jenkins vs. Tommy Langaker: Tommy Langaker via Armbar.
- Jamie Paxman vs. Luca Anacoreta: Luca Anacoreta via Reverse Triangle.
- Tyrone Elliott vs. Luca Anacoreta: DRAW
- Adam Adshead vs. Leon Larman: Leon Larman via Armbar.
- Sam Gibson vs. Leon Larman: Leon Larman via Bow And Arrow Choke.
- Arya Esfandmaz vs. Adam Wardziński: DRAW
- Tyrone Elliott vs. Dinu Bucalet: Dinu Bucalet via Pure Disrespect (Ezekiel Choke)
- Marcos Nardini vs. Dinu Bucalet: DRAW
- Sam Gibson vs. Tommy Langaker: Tommy Langaker via Cross Collar Choke.
- Bradley Hill vs. Tommy Langaker: DRAW
- Jamie Paxman vs. Espen Mathiesen: DRAW
- Marcos Nardini vs. Max Lindblad: DRAW
- Adam Adshead vs. Tommi Pulkkanen: DRAW
- Arya Esfandmaz vs. Adam Wardziński: DRAW
- Tyrone Elliott vs. Leon Larman: Leon Larman via Bow And Arrow Choke.
- Sam Gibson vs. Leon Larman: DRAW
- Bradley Hill vs. Luca Anacoreta: DRAW
- Arya Esfandmaz vs. Dinu Bucalet: DRAW
Team Europe Wins 9-0