The Polaris UK Grand Prix has finished and crowned a champion who can claim through hard-earned results to be the presumptive king of British grappling. It was an interesting night and certainly packed with action, a lot more than the results might indicate given how many of the tournament matches went to a decision. The event produced a few surprising moments throughout and none of the matches were easy for any of the competitors, although it did pretty much go according to plan and the predicted finalists made their run through the tournament.
The UK Grand Prix took a different approach to previous Polaris events in order to make the results of each decision more clear-cut and indisputable by introducing a basic points system. The fighters would be awarded a single point for each takedown, guard pass, sweep and mount or back mount position that was established for a minimum of three seconds. The event’s commentator, Daniel Strauss, noted early on that this change in format could be seen in certain grappler’s approach to their matches.
The opening round saw a very difficult match for Shane Curtis as he was coming up against Bradley Hill, who had both a size and experience advantage over him and used both to full effect. While the match began more evenly as they traded submission attempts, it eventually led to Hill slowly imposing his will and advancing position, racking up points. From there it wasn’t long before he took Curtis’ back and secured the tap with a Rear Naked Choke.
Ross Nicholls was then the first beneficiary of the new points-system as he spent the entire match against Dominic Dillon on the defensive, with Dillon attempting explosive guard-passes utilizing a fantastic upper-body control in order to negate Nicholls’ leg attacks. Early on in the match however, Ross was able to counter one of these guard passes with a sweep and secure position long enough to score the deciding point, before returning to his back. Had this been under traditional polaris rules, Dillon would most likely have come away with the victory although it’s also highly likely that Nicholls would have played differently under these circumstances.
UFC veteran Tom Breese then made his walk against the other favorite, Freddie Vosgrone and although the pair were very evenly matched physically, there was a clear difference between the man who spends a good portion of his training time grappling and the man who spends every single second of it grappling. Vosgrone was on the offensive early on and although he got scored against early on by Breese, he pretty much ran away with it and controlled the match until the end to take the victory on points.
The final opening round was much slower-paced than the first three as both Taylor Pearman and Silviu Nastasa seemed tentative. Pearman clearly wanted nothing to do with Nastasa’s wrestling and sat to guard immediately, while Nastasa seemed well aware that Pearman is lethal off his back and while he was trying to pass, he didn’t seem to want to over-commit and expose himself. This proved true in the final minutes as Nastasa risked going for a Toehold, only to allow Pearman to sweep and score a point, although he quickly returned the favor and wrestled to top position to level the points again. The match went to a judge’s decision and they gave it to Pearman, seemingly based off the higher frequency of his sweep attempts compared to Nastasa’s guard-pass attempts.
The first semi-final then saw Bradley Hill approach the dangerous guard of Ross Nicholls a little more conservatively than Dillon did, which played into Nicholls’ pace and general style. While the match actually went better for Hill than Dillon’s did on points, it also worked against him by allowing Nicholls to open up more and attack with a number of sweep attempts throughout the match. With neither man able to score, Nicholls was awarded the decision on a similar basis to the final opening round match.
The second semi-final started quickly as Vosgrone use every ounce of the weight advantage he had over Taylor Pearman to full effect. Pearman wisely chose to sit to guard and not challenge Vosgrone standing, but Vosgrone’s fast-paced and crushing guard-passing style was worked beautifully. He scored several near-passes throughout, securing two for the required time to win on points and while Pearman defended and re-guarded excellently, he couldn’t ever unsettle Vosgrone and score against him.
The only superfight on this Polaris card between Jed Hue and Dinu Bucalet proved a perfect interruption to the UK Grand Prix and the results really do speak for themselves. The match was incredibly fast-paced as both men were clearly hunting for the submission win right from the start. In a hair under four minutes, Jed Hue would manage to secure the tap after an amazing sequence where he chained several submission attempts together with Bucalet defending each one in turn. He managed to lock up a Triangle Choke after Omoplata and Armbar attempts which forced Bucalet to lock his arms around Hue’s waist to defend, although Hue quickly broke that grip and locked up a Kimura to get the finish.
In the final match, the two early favorites faced off to determine the best grappler in the UK. It’s important to note however that Vosgrone still held a good weight advantage here as well, outweighing Nicholls by just over 10kg according to the official weigh-ins. Vosgrone basically repeated his earlier performance against Pearman by employing his trademark soul-crushing Carlson Gracie guard-passing game that neither Nicholls nor Pearman seemed to have an answer for. Nicholls used his turtle game expertly and was never once in any real trouble of being submitted, but a single secured guard-pass was enough to give Vosgrone the victory, and the $10,000 prize.
Polaris UK Grand Prix Full Results
Jed Hue defeats Dinu Bucalet via Submission (Kimura from Triangle Choke).
Bradley Hill defeats Shane Curtis via Submission (Rear Naked Choke).
Ross Nicholls defeats Dominic Dillon via Decision (1 – 0 on points).
Frederic Vosgrone defeats Tom Breese via Decision (4 – 1 on points).
Taylor Pearman defeats Silvio Nastasa via Decision (Draw – Judge’s Decision).
Ross Nicholls defeats Bradley Hill via Decision (Draw – Judge’s Decision).
Frederic Vosgrone defeats Taylor Pearman via Decision (2 – 0 on points).
Frederic Vosgrone defeats Ross Nicholls via Decision (1 – 0 on points).
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