FloGrappling’s new competition reality show “Who’s Next” pits up-and-coming grapplers against each other in no time limit, submission-only matches for a chance at a $10,000 cash prize and a three-match contract with Who’s Number One. Grappling Insider will be recapping each episode after it airs. All episodes are available for free, without a subscription. Watch the first episode here.
Not unlike the UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” reality show, the first episode of “Who’s Next” consisted of elimination matches to determine which competitors would earn their spot in the house. After the grapplers are led into the warehouse where they will be competing, Flo’s own Hollywood Mike introduces himself as the show’s host, as well as the two team coaches, ADCC silver medalist Craig Jones and current WNO heavyweight champion Tim Spriggs.
The contestants are told that their current group of 16 grapplers will be cut in half after eight matches to be held immediately.
“Ready to get famous?” Spriggs asks.
In a cruel twist of fate, Rodriguez is submitted by the very choke he would use months after the filming of the show to win the ADCC West Coast Trials. After the match, a tearful Rodriguez explains that he plans to get right back to training.
Izaak Michell def. Josh Demas via heel hook, 4:10
Before the match, Jones jokes that he’ll tear up his friend Michell’s visa if he loses. Although Demas is a talented wrestler, he’s simply too green in jiu-jitsu and submission knowledge, as Michell is able to achieve a deep leg entanglement early in the match, where Demas is entirely out of his element.
Andrew Tackett def. Fabian Ramirez via armbar, 45:26
Tackett dominated much of the match positionally before snagging an armbar from the back. Tackett’s submission-hunting style and endless gas tank make him a perfect fit for this ruleset, but at just 160 pounds, he may struggle with the field’s larger competitors.
Daniel Manasoiu def. Breylor Grout via heel hook, 0:28
Recent ADCC European Trials winner Manasoiu earned the fastest submission of the day. At 6’7″ and 275, “Big Dan” appears to be an early favorite.
Mike Rakshan def. Spencer Fossier via camel crush, 6:08
Fossier introduces himself as a “sewer rat” and is immediately one of the most interesting characters we’ve seen in jiu-jitsu. “I have no idea why I’m here,” says the purple belt from Louisiana. Fossier finds early success with a big takedown on Rakshan, but Rakshan is able to reverse to top position and secure a “camel crush” from kesa gatame position.
Kyle Chambers def. Max Hansen via heel hook, 9:22
10th Planet black belt Chambers showed off his opportunistic submission attack, wrapping up a heel hook as Hansen tried to pass guard. Chambers’ size, athletic ability, and unique approach to submissions make him a dark horse to beat some of the show’s more established competitors.
In what might have been the most anticipated first-round match-up, Checkmat’s Jansen Gomes took out recent ADCC Trials runner-up Andy Varela. After the match, Varela reveals that he had been suffering from a serious arm injury that limited his abilities during the match. Still, Gomes earned a quality win, and might be the most technical grappler in the competition.
Adam Bradley def. Tristan Overvig via rear-naked choke, 2:53:0
The larger Overvig spent nearly three full hours dominating Bradley positionally, working from side control and mount. After about 170 minutes of action, Overvig nearly secured an arm-triangle choke from top. Somehow, Bradley was able to escape, reverse position, and sink in a no-hooks rear-naked choke for the submission. After the match, Bradley fittingly shouts out his submission escape instructional.
To finish up the show, coaches Spriggs and Jones select their teams. Team Spriggs has Bradley, Gomes, Chambers, and Manasoiu, while Team Jones consists of Tackett, Michell, Rakshan, and Sousa.