The Artista Invitational 2 took place on the 22nd of February delivered on the promise of showcasing high-level technical talent in a beautiful high-production format. Its simplicity provided a welcome breath of fresh air from the other, more chaotic, events of the weekend (Submission Underground 11 and SubStars at the Fillmore).
Marcio Andre vs Johnatha Alves
The superfight main attraction on this card was competed for over two 10-minute, sub-only periods. If there was no submission in regulation time a referee’s decision decided the winner.
The first ten minute period was the more active of the two. Johnatha pulls guard early and establishes a strong de la Riva guard with a near side lapel. He uses this to berimbolo and after a brief attempt at taking the back settles for a sweep to come on top. There’s a nice sequence of tripod style passing from Johnatha with great re-guarding by Marcio. After a positional reset on the feet and another guard pull, Johnatha establishes a closed guard and the remainder of the first period plays out there with neither man able to gain a clear advantage.
The second period begins with a quick flurry of action as Marcio quickly pulls guard and attacks a triangle on Johnatha. The attempt is defended well and there’s no real threat in the end. After a positional scramble the competitors end up in a 50/50 position and that’s essentially where the match stays for the remainder. Johnatha continually cycles between sweeping, attacking the kneebar and attacking the back while Marcio defends and looks for footlocks of his own. The match ends in a 50/50 leg entanglement with neither man gaining a clear advantage.
Overall, this felt pretty disappointing for a sub-only superfight. There was great technique on display but it seemed neither competitor got the sub-only memo. There were only a handful of submission attempts, with neither man really committing to hunting for a finish. It essentially turned into an ‘invisible’ points match, with both men focusing on sweeping and passing above all else. Ultimately this was reflected in the final referee’s decision, with Johnatha clinching the win with his early sweeps and passing attempts, despite attacking far fewer submissions than Marcio.
Artista have something of a decision to make – do they keep marketing these super-fights as sub-only contests between point fighters, or should they abandon the sub-only angle and have the matches as long-form point only matches? At the moment, they’re only getting the worst of both formats.
The invitational tournament featured a diverse mix of brown and black belt competitors in an 8-man bracketed tournament format. The bouts were contested over 8-minutes and followed IBJJF point scoring. Helpfully all the matches have been uploaded to YouTube – we’ll link to them throughout. Full results are as follows:
It’s no great surprise that Tainan Dalpra took out the whole tournament here. Slated as the front-runner, Tainan comfortably racked up points wins against his early opponents before submitting his opponent in the finals. Tainan has not been shy in calling for bigger names and better match-ups, even beyond his brown belt rank, and after dominating the Artista Invitational 2 tournament it’s hard to blame him. Here’s hoping he matches up against a big name in the near future to really push the young standout to new heights.