Emerald City Invitational results and highlights: Underdog Kieran Kichuk wins $10K

The fourth Emerald City Invitational (ECI) was filled with upsets. On Saturday, eight elite lightweights competed at ECI 4, and underdog qualifier Kieran Kichuk walked away with the tournament title and a $10,000 purse.

Kichuk defeated Josh Cisneros, ECI featherweight champion Gianni Grippo, and Adam Benayoun to capture gold.

Like all previous ECI events, matches were conducted under traditional EBI rules, with a 10-minute submission-only regulation period followed by three rounds of overtime as grapplers battle for the fastest submission or escape time.

In the first round of the tournament, Kichuk struggled in the regulation period against Cisneros, who was able to attack from his trademark kimura trap position. Kichuk survived to overtime, though, where his back control and finishing abilities shined, securing his first of three overtime submissions from the back.

While Kichuk’s win over Cisneros was an upset in its own right, his win over Grippo — an ECI and no-gi world world champion — was one of the biggest upsets of 2022 so far. Kichuk looked better in regulation against Grippo, attacking and entangling Grippo’s legs throughout. In overtime, Kichuk was able to secure an armbar to land himself in the final.

In the final, Kichuk squared off with Adam Benayoun, who had upset Gabriel Sousa in the first round. Yet again, Kichuk proved to be dangerous in the overtime rounds, securing a rear-naked choke and a tournament win.

Kichuk is the first ECI qualifier winner to win ECI gold.

View the full Emerald City Invitational 4 main card results below.

Tournament quarterfinals

  • Jon Calestine def. Pedro Serrano via escape time in OT
  • Adam Benayoun def. Gabriel Sousa via rear-naked choke in OT
  • Gianni Grippo def. Jordan Holy via rear-naked choke in OT
  • Kieran Kichuk def. Josh Cisneros via rear-naked choke in OT

Special match

Tournament semifinals

  • Adam Benayoun def. Jon Calestine via escape time in OT
  • Kieran Kichuk def. Gianni Grippo via armbar in OT

Special matches

  • Izabella Frezzo def. Lauren Sears via armbar/triangle
  • Frank Rosenthal def. Ellis Karadag via outside heel hook

Tournament final

  • Kieran Kichuk def. Adam Benayoun via rear-naked choke in OT

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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