Polaris 25 Grand Prix took place in Wales on 30 September, 2023. The event hosted eight of the top players in the sport to go head-to-head in a Grand Prix eight-man tournament.
Prelims, as always, were super exciting to watch on and are free to view on YouTube. The prelims saw rising star Rosa Walsh submit her pro MMA opponent, with a knee bar off the back of an attempted takedown within the first minute, earning herself ‘warrior of the night’ and a £1000 bonus. Black belt Max Bickerton also put on a show of elite grappling, sweeping his opponent overhead, landing in mount and then scoring the finish via arm-in-guillotine, making his opponent (almost?) go out. It was difficult to tell with the camera angles, but his opponents arm was going limp and twitching, so the ref went over to check and called it.
Martial arts never fails to surprise you and the main card saw the highly anticipated Owen Livesey and Roberto Jimenez out in the first round; a semi final match up many were looking forward to.
Livesey and 2021 IBJJF Black Belt World Champion Fabricio Andrey went head-to-head in a stand up battle and due to Andrey’s cat-like agility Livesey struggled to both take him down and keep him down. Considering the size difference, Andrey got points up on Livesey and exerted some excellent stand up skills, even throwing Livesey a few times; a man who most think is untouchable when standing.
Australian black belt Izaak Michell and Jimenez went at it in a very evenly skilled match up where Michell got the upper hand via points taking him into the semi-finals.
Polish brown belt Marcin Maciulewicz went head to head against 2022 ADCC Black Belt World Champion Giancarlo Bodoni and he showed a great display of his skill set against the higher level grappler, but Bodoni managed to lock him in a body traingle and ended up submitting him via RNC.
The last of the quarter-final matches was two-time ADCC and three-time IBJJF Black Belt World Champion Kaynan Duarte, against Jason Rau. Rau aimed to play his strong point, the leg game, but as soon as Duarte passed his guard, he then entered the mount position, began to smother and submitted Rau via arm-in-triangle.
The semi-finals had some incredible match ups; where the outcome truly was unpredictable. Despite being the smallest competitor in the bracket at just 75kg, Andrey went up against another 95kg opponent, Bodoni. Andrey’s cat-like agility shone through once again, forever landing on his feet, and he got the win over Bodoni via points. After the match the young star was incredibly emotional and just looked genuinely so overwhelmed over what he had just accomplished; landing him in the finals with a chance to grab the $30,000 prize.
The next match of the semis was Michell Vs Duarte and Duarte took the win. This result meant that the heaviest competitor in the bracket was going to face the lightest competitor in the bracket, with a whopping 22kg+ weight difference.
Before the finals commenced, the super fight between the American former UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling and ex UFC Featherweight from Liverpool, Mike Grundy. As predicted, it was a battle of the takedowns, with both fighters wanting to get the other to the ground first, resulting in almost 100% of the match taking place on the feet, no submission ended up taking place, and Sterling took the win of the superfight via judges decision.
The last match of the night was the final between Duarte and Andrey, it was an incredible match to watch, but unfortunately for Andrey, Duarte ended up taking the back with a beautiful transition, locked in the body triangle, submitting Andrey with an RNC. Andrey showed exemplary sportsmanship throughout and after his match with Duarte, despite knowing he had lost, you had never seen anybody happier to be submitted at the highest levels of competition against one of the top (and biggest) guys in the sport.
Fabricio Andrey defeats Owen Livesey via points
Izaak Michell defeats Roberto Jimenez via points
Giancarlo Bodoni defeats Marcin Maciulewicz via RNC
Kaynan Duarte defeats Jason Rau via arm-in-triangle
Fabricio Andrey defeats Giancarlo Bodoni via points
Kaynan Duarte defeats Izaak Michell via decision
Aljamain Sterling defeats Mike Grundy via judges decision
Kaynan Duarte defeats Fabricio Andrey via RNC