London, England’s Indigo venue at the O2 Arena housed one of the most important professional jiu-jitsu events in our sport’s international calendar.
Once again Polaris’ Prelim matches were outstanding, a real grappling show that could stand alone as its own pay-per-view. We often praise the matchmaking of this promotion, but it truly is unrivaled in this gamen thus far. A very keen eye for a good style clash.
On the main card, a special reference to the dominant performances on both main events, Ffion Davis proved once again she is an absolute Tazmanian Devil with her relentless offense, while Rafael Lovato Junior, on the other hand, showed that the opposite also works by displaying a slower – yet equally effective, pace with which he dominated Jake Shields. Full match reports below.
Tom Cauphey def. Jack Tyley by decision
Marcus Phelan def. Chris Newman by decision
Pedro Dias def. Nobuhiro Sawada by decision
Dominant performance by the heavier athlete, Dias, who assumed the top position and bullied through Sawada’s guard. Pedro worked on chokes from the top, never relinquishing positional control, getting the nod from the judges after the bell.
Arya Esfandmaz def. Jamie Hughes by bow and arrow choke
Huge match for Arya who controlled the action from the start. Esfandmaz quickly passed the guard of Hughes at the start of the fight, working his way towards the final bow and arrow sequence from side control. Very tight finish and a very clean performance by the RGA representative.
Freddie Vosgrone def. Haldor Valsson by decision
One of the best matches of the night, German grappler Vosgrone imposed a strong pace throughout, attacking passes, sweeps, subs, and takedowns. Haldor defended most of what was thrown his way, also offering some offense of his own. A good match where none held back and a well deserved decision win for Freddie.
Ash Amos def. Ed Ingamells by decision
Amos exposed a big hole on the game of the popular British leglocker, Ingamells, his guard retention. Establishing the guard pass early on, Amos didn’t allow Ed to reset/scramble thereafter. Guard pass over guard pass, mount, crushing pressure and a flawless win by the Welsh competitor.
Tarik Hopstock def. Eoghan O’Flanagan by straight ankle lock
European and Worlds IBJJF brown belt medal placer Tarik Hopstock went up against one of the premier English leg lock specialists, black belt Eoghan O’Flanagan in a highly anticipated match. Hopstock pulled guard first and looked to keep his legs safe by conquering the inside line, staying away from leg entanglements. Once he got a good grip of his own, Tarik committed to it, getting the belly down ankle lock and the quick finish.
Tommy Langaker def. Sebastian Brosche by slide-in choke
One of the performances of the night was that of Langaker who showcased a real variety of attacks and modern day jiu-jitsu for the fans. Crab-ride positions, berimbolos, baby-bolos, we saw a little bit of it all.
On the other side of the mat was the very experienced Brosche who struggled to keep up with the speed and the pace of Tommy throughout but, nevertheless, put on a very brave performance with outstanding escapes and good scrambles. After a very fast paced bout, Tommy got a bite on Sebastian’s neck and did not let go, getting the tap from a back choke.
Eduardo Rios def. Santeri Lilius by decision
The legendary Eduardo “Teta” said he was coming in to put on a show and leave it all on the mat, and indeed he did. Every opening he had he tried to make the match exciting and dynamic. Santeri, on the other hand, visibly the larger of the two athletes, looked to stifle Rios’ game with a slow-cooked top pressure style, that failed for never “pulling the trigger”.
Unfortunately for the fans this was somewhat of a boring match overall, to no fault of Rios who tried his hardest to keep it interesting. In the end, and although Santeri positionally dominated most of the bout, the judges gave the win to Teta, likely for the beautiful takedown early in the match, and for the lack of ambition by Lilius.
Michael Perez def. Darragh O’Connail by decision
Although Darragh had excellent composure throughout the match, the story here was one of Perez as the aggressor, 100% of the time. Mike looked to pass, take the back, and even had a tight anaconda to arm-in-guillotine, to darce choke sequence that nearly ended the match. Good showing by the American grappler.
Ethan Crelinsten def. Tom Halpin by armbar
Wow, non stop action from start to finish, as expected from these two. Irish leg lock specialist, Halpin tried to match Crelisten’s own leg-locking prowess, a strategy that worked until Ethan changed gears and opted to look for back control openings instead. Once he got there, it was all about the Canadian, who dominated all aspects of the match from then on, constantly attacking the neck of Halpin from side to side.
Tom’s neck looked to be bulletproof for nearly 8 minutes, which forced Ethan to move to the arm, a clean submission by Crelinsten. Ethan’s ability to change the game plan on the fly was a major factor here and the reason why he was such a big favorite coming into the fight.
MENS #1 CONTENDER MATCH
Vagner Rocha def. Ross Nichols by decision
A true clash of grappling styles on full display in this #1 contender welterweight match. Vagner made the best possible use of his “hovering” passing style against Nichols’ very efficient butterfly/Z guard frame, a real masterclass of guard retentionn by the Brit.
None of the grapplers held back, however, their games were so evenly matched that neither ever got close to breaking the other’s defensive fortress. No real offensive chances took place, aside from one guard pass by Rocha, whose style (optically) was much more imposing – likely the reason for his decision win.
WOMENS 155LBS TITLE
Ffion Davies def. Gezary Matuda by katagatame
There was so much movement in this match, we got a little dizzy while watching. Outstanding performance from the Welsh competitor who has been on a tear since earning her black belt late last year.
Both athletes were in danger at some point in this 3(!) minute match, Ffion on the wrong end of a one arm guillotine and Matuda from an inside heel hook attempt and the match ending katagamate (arm triangle).
Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Jake Shields by decision
Two of the most iconic grapplers developed by the American fight scene are Lovato and Shields, Jake the more accomplished in the mixed martial arts realm of combat, and Lovato the legend of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Given that these were strict grappling rules, the favoritism lied strongly with Lovato Junior, and indeed the former IBJJF world champion proved to have the superior skillset. Shields was a very worthy opponent with his traditional grinding style, but being the smaller of the two and having less experience at the highest level of jiu-jitsu did eventually come through during the match.
After a very hard fought battle for grip control while standing, Lovato finished a strong takedown by way of bodylock. The two eventually stood back up, Lovato pulled guard and sweapt the Renzo Gracie Academy representative, passing and mounting Jake a couple of times, showing a much more varied set of skills which earned him the win over another huge name.