Keith Krikorian previews stacked 145-pound tournament at WNO: Night of Champions

Keith Krikorian previewed every potential opponent he could face at WNO: Night of Champions on October 1.

Keith Krikorian is no stranger to elite competition.

A multiple-time ADCC veteran, the 10th Planet black belt is one of grappling’s most active and respected competitors, known for his high-paced brand of submission hunting that’s made him a fan favorite over the past few years.

On Sunday, October 1, Krikorian will once again take on some of the planet’s top grapplers when he competes in a talent-laden, four-man tournament at Who’s Number One (WNO): Night of Champions.

The 25-year-old recently spoke to Grappling Insider about his training and preparation for that 145-pound tournament and broke down each of his potential opponents. 

Krikorian also spoke about how he developed his “A-game” of back-takes and leg locks and revealed his mindset heading into the 2023 ADCC East Coast Trials.

Check out the full interview below.

Keith Krikorian breaks down possible opponents at WNO

Ash Williams – Long considered one of the UK’s top black belt competitors, Williams earned a hard-fought decision win over Krikorian at Grapplefest in 2022.

Krikorian notes that Williams, with his seemingly endless gas tank and relentless guard passing, will always be a difficult opponent to deal with:

“With Ash, it’s gonna be really scrappy, it’s gonna be a fight. And he has a really deep gas tank, so you have to prepare for that…

“He reminds me of Ethan [Crelinsten] with more tight passing. Similar activity, a lot of movement, a lot of length, really hard to leg lock, really hard to stabilize position on.”

Gabriel Sousa – One week before he won the 2022 ADCC West Coast Trials, Krikorian scored a decision victory over Sousa at WNO in a back-and-forth, action-packed contest. Sousa would go on to claim silver at the 2022 ADCC World Championships.

Krikorian spoke about Sousa’s trademark guard passing:

“There’s no secret to what he wants. He wants to either wrestle you to the mat and get on top and stay on top, and pass. That’s pretty much it, to be honest. He’ll avoid your leg entanglements, he’ll avoid your guard completely. He’ll lead deep with his chest and he’ll control the outside space and then he’ll either eventually gas you out or work into a pass.”

Diogo Reis – The tournament favorite is reigning 66kg ADCC world champion Diogo “Baby Shark” Reis. 

Krokorian said he expects to face Reis in the first round and, for that reason, has spent the most time analyzing his game:

“He is really well-rounded. He’s also probably one of the fastest guys I’ve ever seen in the sport, let alone at that weight class… Stature-wise, he is small. He has shorter limbs, he has a smaller body. I think he carries weight very well and he’s very, very strong. But I think that he is quite a bit smaller and that allows him to control inside space a lot better. It’s harder for you to get in on him because his limbs are quite a bit shorter, and he’s so fast, he’s not gonna give you a chance to control an underhook for a very long time or get on his head for a very long time… He has shockingly heavy pressure from the top… Tactically, probably one of the strongest aspects of his game. I don’t know if that’s him personally or it’s his coach Melqui [Galvao]. But someone is creating incredibly strong gameplans and that’s something you have to be ready for.”

As for defeating a talented technician like Reis, Krikorian says that tenacity will be key:

“Just don’t give up. No matter how the match is going, don’t give up, don’t lose faith, press as much as I can. I don’t know where the match will take place, even, but I can’t stop trying at any point.”

How to watch: WNO: Night of Champions takes place on Sunday, October 1, and will air live on FloGrappling (subscription required) beginning at 7:00 PM ET.

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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