World Jiu-Jitsu Festival Preview

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Source: FloGrappling Instagram

Tomorrow marks the inaugural World Jiu-Jitsu festival in Long Beach, California. The two-day festival has autograph signings, BJJ stalls, a photo exhibition and their first Jiu-Jitsu awards. Alongside all of these activities, there’s free BJJ seminars in place with some of the weekend’s competitors. For people more interested in competing themselves, there’s also a World Jiu-Jitsu Festival tournament on Sunday that’s currently open for registration.

Alongside the open tournament, there’s an invitational Grand Prix for the elite-level fighters. The participants for this are being kept tightly under wraps for now, but this will no doubt provide an afternoon of fireworks. The main attractions for the festival however, are the super-fights at the top of the bill. A total of twelve fights, headlined by two classic matches, are scheduled for the weekend. All of them are available as pay-per-view for those of you unable to make the trip to California for the weekend, but we’ll break down the two headline fights here:

Gordon Ryan v Rousimar Palhares

This is a truly special fight, especially with Gordon Ryan coming into it after his perfect performance at ADCC 2019. He meets the original leg-lock master, Rousimar Palhares. He’s no stranger to ADCC himself of course, coming away with a silver medal in 2011. But Palhares made his name in MMA first, racking up 16 submission wins, 12 by way of heel-hook or kneebar.

Palhares is an incredibly strong and very game opponent with a deep knowledge of leg entanglements. I doubt Ryan would get the better of him here, but Ryan is the better grappler overall. Palhares is nearly 40 and although he’s not done yet, he was closer to retirement 5 years ago than Ryan is now. Ryan should be able to take his back and once he gets there, it’s just a matter of time.

Result: Gordon Ryan wins via Rear-Naked Choke.

Rafael Lovato Jr. v Richie Martinez

This is another fantastic match that sees a modern grappler take on a competing legend. Richie Martinez is an EBI veteran and 10th Planet product who uses all of the staples of Eddie Bravo’s team to full effect. With victories over Kazushi Sakuraba and Aaron Johnson, he’s shown that he’s able to hang with the elites of the sport. Martinez has a diverse game and can attack from any position with great effect.

While he’ll put up a great fight, I can’t see him winning this match. Rafael Lovato Jr. recently took the Bellator Middleweight title from Gegard Mousasi to cap off a 10-0 MMA career. Lovato’s first love was BJJ though and he had an incredible competitive career with several medals at the Mundials and three golds at the World No-Gi Championships. Even though Lovato is older than Martinez, he’s still at the top of his game right now. I think this is a back-and-forth match that goes the distance, but Lovato takes the win.

Result: Rafael Lovato Jr. wins via Decision.

Alex Lindsey

Alex Lindsey is the managing editor here at Grappling Insider. Originally starting training in MMA in 2008, injuries and university slowed progress until he decided to put on a gi for the first time back in 2015.

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