This weekend’s F2W 150 event (Aug. 14) brings back the best medium heavyweight in the history of IBJJF competitions, Romulo Barral. Last weekend saw a number of BJJ stars get after it under the F2W banner for Fight 2 Win 149. You can check the results by clicking here.
The ‘legend’ faces the always dangerous Tanner Rice. The card also features a scrap between Marcio Andre and Ronaldo Junior. The main event is a very intriguing, since both Barral and Rice have made names for themselves.
Barral is a 5x IBJJF World Champion and an ADCC Champion. Most BJJ fans agree he is the best medium heavyweight of all time. He gained notoriety for becoming the front-runner of the ‘Everyday Porrada’ mantra. The workouts and rounds in his training room are insane.
F2W 150 preview: The legend
The 38-year-old Barral has a precise game. He is known for his spider guard, which most consider one of the best ever. Barral adds his own spice to the guard by creating a game around spider and other side-collar grips. This has seen a small resurgence in the colored belts recently, but some legends like Rubens ‘Cobrinha’ Charles also used the position with success.
Barral is known for his amazing guard, but his guard passing skills are also top notch. Barral forces a knee cut variation on most of his foes. He enters the knee cut, but doesn’t cross it through his opponent’s body immediately. Instead, he keeps the knee on the solar plexus. This puts his opponent underneath his full bodyweight, concentrated on the tip of his knee. This can be extremely painful, and often creates a strong defensive reaction from the person on bottom. Barral is a master at capitalizing from these reactions and either goes for a cross choke or takes mount/side control.
I attended a seminar of his in Uruguay, and I can tell you the pressure he generates in the strangle is excruciating. He cooks you up in the modified knee cut position, and then finishes you with the strangle. People actually let him pass to relieve the pressure — that’s how intense it is.
F2W 150 preview: The underdog
Tanner Rice is younger and represents his own team, Rice Brothers BJJ. He made a name for himself when he openly defied authorities during the quarantine and kept his gym open. Rice consistently places in major competition, so BJJ fans shouldn’t count him out, even if he is not as well known as Barral.
Rice has consistently moved up in weight in recent events. He began his career as a lightweight (167 lbs) and has moved up to ultra-heavyweight (over 221 lbs). This poses a threat to Barral, who may be jacked, but is nowhere near 221 lbs. He usually fights at medium-heavy, which is three weight classes below.
Rice has kept his game from the lighter weight classes, and often takes the guard pull and elects to play bottom. He has a very strong open guard game that he centers around lasso-spider. If someone from his weight class opts to double pull with him, he has hit some berimbolo-like inversions in competition that mainly land him on top.
Even though I believe Rice is an amazing BJJ practitioner and can do serious damage, I think Barral takes this. Rice has a versatile game, but doesn’t have Barral’s precision. Rice most likely will pull guard, which puts him directly into Barrals soul-taking pass. If he opts for this route, I see Barral cooking him for a while and then submitting him with a cross-choke.
This F2W 150 preview wouldn’t be complete without taking a look at the explosive co-main event that features Ronaldo Souza Junior against Marcio Andre. A co-main event like this has fireworks written all over it. Both guys are extremely dynamic and feared on top.
People call Souza Junior ‘the human highlight reel’ for a reason. He leaves it all on the mats, which makes for a war every time he steps in there. He often blasts through guards by overwhelming his opponents. He breaks people by simply spamming guard passes and moving side-to-side, which makes it very difficult for the guy playing bottom to keep up with him.
Andre has a body-awareness second to none (except maybe Leandro Lo). He is always in the correct spot, places his grips perfectly and his balance is almost impossible to break. His passing is beautiful, but his guard game is not easy to take on either. He generally mixes his guard game with lapel guards, which could be an interesting way to slow down the bulldozer that is Souza Junior.
Andre has more experience under the Fight 2 Win banner, and he often puts it all out there as well. He attacks with flying submissions, lapel guard attacks and aggressive footlocks. My prediction is that Souza Junior will take this, but it’s going to be close. He has the weight and intensity advantage, and I think he’ll use that to earn a close decision.
Fireworks match up – F2W 150 preview
There’s one extra match-up I’d like to mention, Kody Steele taking on David Garmo. I can’t stress how intense this match can be. Steele is one of the most dynamic and fun-to-watch competitors of modern BJJ. He plays both top and bottom, is relentless with his attack and never runs out of gas. He brings submissions from everywhere, especially in transitions, which often catch his opponents off guard.
Garmo is a black belt under Danny Agemy, who is a student from Saulo and Xande Ribeiro. In case you need anything more to watch this fight, out of Garmo’s last 10 matches, only two did not end in submission. He goes after it and is well-versed in the leg entanglement game, which he mixes with kneebars.
I’m picking Steele to win by submission, but not without having to fight for it. This will be a back-and-forth match for control of the action, but I think once Steele is able to set his pace and rhythm, it will be a one-way ride.
What did you think of my predictions? You can let me know if you agree or disagree with any of them by clicking here.