Writer: Tim McNamara (Check out his blog, google: Ze Grapplez)
Eddie Bravo vs Royler Gracie
Nearly 11 years after their upset match at the ADCC, Royler Gracie aims to prove Eddie's triangle was a fluke. Bravo would go on to mint a fortune with his 10th planet NoGi Grappling affiliation enterprise. This match is about as much new school vs old school as you could possible want to angle or promote. I think Bravo very smartly dodged the match for quite awhile as he is younger than Royler. Bravo, based on youtube's video of him rolling with Marcelo Garcia is no slouch as some would like you to believe due to their disdain for his brand of NoGi grappling and marketing. No one self-promotes and markets themselves as well as he has for himself while also having a degree in being an idiot. Bravo very astutely waited Royler out, ala Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler, and will now make this a more competitive match than many of the older generation of Jiu-Jitsu would like to believe or admit.
I think both men will be conservative as they have more to gain from a good showing than exposing themselves to win and having a bad showing. This one will go the distance in a relatively conservative affair with perhaps a few close calls.
Rafa Mendes vs Clark Gracie
The time has come for the the Berimbolo versus the Omoplata. The 6x world champion and 2x ADCC champion versus the most photogenic guy in Jiu-Jitsu. Will Clark's hair get mussed? Will Rafa finish clark inside the 20 minutes? Does Rafa have an answer for the multitude of ways Clark gets to the Omoplata? Rafa won the world championship consecutively from blue to brown belt, then bronze his first year at black, then the gold for the world championship the following year. He armbarred Cobrinha in the armbar heard round the world, but most recently lost to Cobrinha at the ADCC.
Clark Gracie has some very good wins and very photogenic wins at that with his diverse brand of omoplata attack but recalling the devastation Leandro Lo visited upon him and his guard, I don't see Clark faring so well against Rafa. Granted, Rafa and Leandro stylistically are very, very different and granted Leandro passes almost everyone's guard, but Clark lacks those big stage wins over big names as well as the notable wins at the big events. I have to go with Rafa by careful control to an eventual armbar.
Keenan Cornelius vs Vinny Magalhaes
Keenan's black belt debut thus far has begun well, winning the San Diego pro trials with a number of submissions, including Magid Hage. Magalhaes, despite his foray into MMA is a double gold 2005 brown belt Mundial champ, and double bronze ADCC medalist, and an ADCC division champion back in 2011. Magalhaes, despite any time off over at the MMA side of combat sports, is not a mismatch by any means despite what some newer sport Jiu-Jitsu aficionados might tell themselves.. Keenan has fared well against heavyweight in the Gi (Copa Podio), and also fared well at his first ADCC.
However, Vinny's ADCC medals speak volumes and if he doesn't submit Keenan, I think he will dominate him for much of the match.
Dean Lister vs Renato "Babalu" Sobral
The "Boogeyman" Dean Lister, aka king of the leg locks and NoGi, will take on retired professional MMA fighter "Babalu" best remembered perhaps, for admitting to Joe Rogan that he ignored the tap of a fighter who disrespected him at the weigh-ins. In 2003, Dean Lister won the ADCC Absolute title, then in 2011 won the -99kg weight class. He also faced Xande Ribeiro on a previous Metamoris but the match ended in a draw. He most recently took silver at the ADCC in Beijing this past year. Lister is also 19-7 in professional MMA, having been around the scene for quite a long time.
Babalu retired from professional MMA with a record of 49-12. Babalu has fought for the UFC, OneFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and the legendary Affliction. Interestingly enough, both guys have served as grappling instructors for teams on TUF. Babalu coached for Wanderlei and Lister was a coach for Tito Ortiz.
Dean Lister is about as tough a test as you'll find in the NoGi grappling world with tons of experience. Babalu has some notable wins via D'Arce/Anacaonda choke in MMA, but as much as I love Babalu, it's hard to see Dean not taking a leg home with him inside the 20 minute time limit.
Gui Mendes vs Samir Chantre
Gui is half of the notable brother combo Mendes in the sport grappling world. Chantre is a notable part of Caio Terra's roost of smaller weight fighters.
Gui was last seen winning the 2012 world championship at black belt. This past year at 2013, despite being the odds on favorite, along with his brother, it was a rough and rocky road for the pair as they made their way through the black belt brackets at the Long Beach Pyramid. Gui did not make it to the podium at the 2013 Mundials.
The slightly, perhaps, less known of the Mendes brothers, both have seen their dominance tested in the last year or two. Samir is another guy with some high profile wins but yet, has not won the big events. He's medalled at the IBJJF events, and done will, even closing out a NoGi world championship with a teammate in 2010, but in the Gi, I find it hard to believe he will fare well against Gui. Gui brings a pressure pass that is tough to deal with for virtually anyone. I see Gui breaking Samir down and finishing him inside of 10 minutes.
Zak Maxwell vs Sean Roberts
Another guy on this list with a crafty omoplata is Zak Maxwell of the Gracie Humaita team. Maxwell has a number of high profile wins since graduating to black belt, is a world champion at brown belt and multiple time Pan-American champion at the lower belts. Sean Roberts gained notoriety from his appearance on the BJJ Kumite and recently got promoted to black belt. I think Zak Maxwell has the better seasoning at black belt and will likely finish Sean inside the 15 minute mark.