Combat Jiu-Jitsu Worlds: The Bantamweights was a huge, exciting night of jiu-jitsu for sub-only fans around the world yesterday. There were plenty of action-packed scrambles and submissions — one of which was certainly Elias Anderson‘s big armbar in the last round of overtime that won him the championship over Richard “Red” Alarcon — but one of the most memorable moments of the night involved a submission that didn’t happen.
If you watched the whole event, you definitely remember the round-one match between Taylan Yuasa and Marcelo Cohen. And it’s because this happened:
During the match, Cohen locked up a strong kimura on Yuasa. But rather than tapping out, Yuasa let his arm go… and go… and go. Many people watching the event likely thought they were about to watch a serious injury happen, but instead, Yuasa just kept on going and managed to squeeze a little conversation in as well.
Cohen went on to beat Yuasa, but by fastest escape time rather than a submission. And thankfully, somehow, Yuasa’s shoulder is totally fine.
Yuasa, who is a decorated judoka with multiple National Championship titles to his name, told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that although he wasn’t completely fearless about the danger he faced during the match, the kimura wasn’t concerning.
“I would be lying if I said I was never in danger of the fight being stopped — but there was no pain at all from the kimura. I wasn’t concerned with it dislocating either, I have pretty good flexibility so *knock on wood* it’s hard to pop my joints,” he says. “My shoulder is totally normal and there’s no pain. I’m sure there’ll be a little soreness tomorrow at worst, but I’m gonna hit the beach either way.”
If you were ready to walk into your nearest yoga studio, show them the video, and ask how you can do that, be advised that Yuasa’s insane flexibility is the product of frequent stretching and just… him.
“I’ve always been naturally flexible. I often joke that I’ve never been good at judo or jiu-jitsu: I’m just bendy enough to not throw, or submit at joint-locks,” he says. “I stretch at least three times per day from my feet to my neck. Twice before and once after my hardest evening practice. You could say I’m the result of both natural bendiness and forced/taught flexibility.”
Another notable moment came after the match, when Cohen seemed to be angry at Yuasa as they stepped into the center of the mats for the official result announcement. “I assumed it was because I was talking to him and Victor [Davila] at points during the bout. I meant no disrespect, but I totally get how it could be interpreted that way. That’s why I didn’t fault him for reacting how he did,” says Yuasa.
“It turns out it wasn’t that at all. It was at the weigh-ins when I did the ‘Rock Lee’ pose from Naruto. I relate to that character (Rock Lee) a lot. I was bullied in school; I was very weak and unathletic. But I wanted to become stronger, and I think that’s what set me down this path. I’m really just a huge nerd who somehow found his way into mixed martial arts.”
Cohen, for his part, told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that he’d also been angry over what was said during the match.
Thankfully, Yuasa says that everything is now fine between him and Cohen.
“I felt bad after the match because my friend Pablo (Marcelo’s cornerman) was profusely apologetic towards me. He didn’t know what caused the reaction either. After a little group talk, it turns out that Marcelo’s never seen Naruto, because he thought I was taunting him when we faced off. Zack (Schneider, another competitor and fellow Naruto fan), told Marcelo what the pose actually was from. He then apologized to me, and I apologized back for talking so much during the bout. We all laughed about it after the fact, took a photo together, and in the end I’m just glad the fans got to enjoy our bout as much as I did.”
CJJ was a “pleasant surprise” for Yuasa in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created some bumps in the road for his MMA career. But keep an eye out — he says he has some big fight news coming, and while he can’t share the details just yet, we’ll be eager to see what he does next.