Grapplefest 8 Preview: Under The Radar Matches You Shouldn’t Miss

Grapplefest 8 has now finished and the full results can be found here.

Grapplefest 8 comes to Liverpool this weekend with another stacked line-up. The promotion really has gone from strength to strength since Grapplefest 1 and yet again they’re returning with a potent mix of premier local talent and marquee names from across the world. Recently, the bombshell of Figure 4 promotions partnering with Third Coast Grappling for a co-promotion on May 23rd was announced. ‘The American Invasion’ will be the biggest card to date with Gordon Ryan, Kyle Boehem, Nick Rodriquez, Lucas Barbosa already announced and many more HUGE names to come! Grapplefest 8 presents an opportunity to impress and possibly earn grapplers a place on the undercard of the big show. It’s a massive opportunity for talented grapplers to finally ‘break out’ and get the chance to build a name on a show which is guaranteed to have a large audience across the globe watching.

Every website under the sun will be doing a preview that features known names and the big stars on the Grapplefest 8 card. Instead, I’m going to break down some lesser-known names (and matches) that you should keep an eye on ahead of the big names.

Mathesz Szczecinski (Academia Gorilla) vs Eoghan O’flanagan (New School)

Eoghan has been making waves in the UK for quite some time now and has a submission win over what is arguably the UK’s premier submission grappler at the moment – Ross Nicholls. He’s featured on big shows in the UK like Grapplefest, Pantheon and Polaris before and has yet to really showcase what everyone knows he’s capable of on the big stage. Mathesz is a European ADCC Bronze medallist, narrowly missing out on gold losing to common opponent Ross Nicholls in the semi-final, by refs decision. He’s a seasoned competitor and regular takes gold in both Gi and Nogi when IBJJF venture to Poland. This is my pick for fight of the night at Grapplefest 8!

Tyreeze Cunliffe (Aspinall BJJ) v Aidan Pinder (Redcar BJJ)

Tyreeze, also known as ‘Wonderkid’ really has started to live up to that nickname in the past 12 months. At just 16 years old, he really is a look into the future for the UK submission only scene. After a seasoned stint competing as a Juvenile, culminating with Gold at Naga Europeans and ADCC British Championships, he’s gone on to make a name for himself traveling Europe with Grappling Industries. He really embraces the anyone, anytime mentality and if you take one look at his Instagram you’ll find clips of him submitting brown and black belts, sometimes twice his size regularly. Aidan, for most is the unknown. As it happens, I myself competed against Aidan 5-6 years ago… albeit in a Gi division.  He’s incredibly well rounded and has a wicked guard game, more recently he seems to have added an arsenal of leg locks to his game winning by heel hook at Grapplefest 7 and winning Empire Grappling’s Elite division with a couple of knee bars en route.  This is an interesting one, if Aidan can survive Tyreeze’s early leg lock onslaught things are going to get interesting very quickly and we’ll get an opportunity to see if Tyreeze is well rounded or runs out of ideas if plan A doesn’t work.

Liam Alpang (DFS) v Jack Tyley (10th Planet)

I’m going to be straight with you here… I don’t know a ridiculous amount about Jack other than the fact he’s game and wins on submission only shows incredibly frequently. The real reason I’m interested in this matchup is another young prodigy, Liam Alpang. He’s gained some serious hype in his native Sweden and has been venturing across the pond recently. He really caught my eye at Empire Grappling’s Road to Pantheon where he walked through every opponent with relative ease to earn a place on Pantheon 3 in May… if rumours are to be believed that’s another UK show that’s going to be headlined by huge names. Both have exciting styles and will push the pace from the start, let’s see if the underdog can pull of the upset!

Chris Walsh (Next Gen) vs Ellis Younger (ECJJ)

This is an old school clash of styles that’s guaranteed to be fast paced. Chris Walsh is a Grapplefest and Polaris veteran and was recently awarded his Black Belt from Next Generation MMA Liverpool, he’s used to the Grapplefest stage and will be looking for a dominant victory in front of his home town crowd. The challenge he faces is a daunting one. Ellis for me, is probably the UK’s premier Brown Belt at the moment. He’s part of Darragh O’connell’s ECBJJ travelling squad of top competitors who regularly medal at the top IBJJF and UAE competitions. Ellis has ran his own gym for quite a while and was making waves even before Darragh became his head coach. However, it’s since he became part of the team that’s fronted by Ffion Davies that he’s started to make real waves.  He took gold in the incredibly stacked Brownbelt lightweight division at the IBJJF Nogi World Championships and won IBJJF Euros as a purple belt.   

Jack Fletcher (Sukata) v Declan Williams (TDMA)

I’m taking a bit of a punt on this and I’m going to apologise in advance if this ends up being ‘Schaub-shutdown’ borefest.  This is going to go one of two ways; Jack and Declan throw caution to the wind and have the fast paced match that resembles grappling version ‘button bashing’ on Mortal Combat/Tekken. Don’t get me wrong, both guys are technical – but I’ve seen them both decide to get into wars where scrambles are exchanged quickly. The other, more (boring) unfortunate scenario is Jack plays from the bottom and Declan looks to play smart, which results in both guys neutralising each other.

You’ll find my beautiful face coaching Carl Conway in the 5th match of the night, when he faces dangerous leg locker Jack Brown.

Grapplefest 8 is live on flograppling on Saturday 29th February from 4pm (GMT), the full stacked card can be found below:

Adam Wardzinski (Checkmat) v Jon Blank (10th Planet) u90kgs Title Match

Tye Ruotolo (Atos) v Dante Leon (GF Team) u80kgs belt eliminator match

Kade Ruotolo (Atos) v Ashley Williams (Chris Rees) u70kgs Title Match

Ben Hodgkinson (Absolute MMA) v Ed Ingamells (Mill Hill) u100kgs

Santeri Lilius (Lilius Barnett) v Stuart Cooper (SCJJ) u90kgs

Jack Grant (D-Mac) v John Maguire (10th Planet) u85kgs

Robert Degle (Renzo Gracie) v Jay Butler (ARBJJ) u70kgs

Mateusz Szczecinski (Academia Gorilla) v Eoghan O’flanagan (New School) u80kgs

Owen Livesey (Carlson Gracie) v Alberto Gonzalez (Crazy Team) u85kgs

Paul Lukowski (Notts MMA) v Adam Ellis (ARBJJ) u100kgs

Chris Walsh (Next Gen) v Ellis Younger (ECJJ) u80kgs

Ben Hills (Next Gen) v Stefan Petrov (10th Planet) u90kgs

Prelims

Omar Fredricks (Sukata) v Ste Henshall (Aspinall BJJ) +100kgs

Harry Bennett (Sukata) v Jordan Cooper (ECJJ) u75kgs

Paul Webb (Next Gen) v Rob Platt (McGovern JJ) +100kgs

Liam Alpang (DFS) v Jack Tyley (10th Planet)

Shane Curtis (Notts MMA) v Ruben Enjily (RGA) u80kgs

Marina Mavrou (CG) v Lisa Major (Impact) u65kgs

Charlie Cawley (10th Planet) v Aaran Jordan (Next Gen) u90kgs

Jack Fletcher (Sukata) v Declan Williams (TDMA) u70kgs

Josh Roberts (Sukata) v Ryan Bassett (RTJJ) u90kgs

Mel Wright (GF) v Sarah Greenwood (AVT) u65kgs

Jamie Shattock (Sukata) v Cal Rawson (Combat Base) u85kgs

Tyreeze Cunliffe (Aspinall BJJ) v Aidan Pinder (Redcar BJJ) 73kgs

Carl Conway (Stealth) v Jack Brown (MNBJJ) u80kgs

Charlie Johnstone (SFF) v Kevin McAloon (SBG) 80kgs

Danny Stirk (Combat Base) v Ken Ng (RTJJ) U70kgs

Cemil Yesilyurt (Sukata) v Thomas Burroughs (TBJJ) u73kgs

Jack Rimmer (Next Gen) v Alfie Parker (RTJJ) u40kgs kids

Lee Herbert

BJJ Purple belt, hobbyist competitor and referee. I write words about grappling / BJJ as a creative outlet from my day job where my focus is on coverage of mainstream sporting, entertainment and news events