From Dan “Micro” Faggella.
I arrived at the December 13th 2008 Association of Grappling Competitors (AGC) tounament a little bit past noon time with a few of my students from Omoplata BJJ. This is pretty late for a grappling tournament, and that means sleep for me. Hurray. The competitors were all hanging out and weighing in as we showed up, the Ryan Hall seminar was about to start in twenty minutes. I went over to Ryan and Seph Smith (another talented fighter under Lloyd Irvin) to catch up and introduce my students.
The Ryan Hall seminar was cool and casual. He asked when we wanted to learn, in addition to some of the stuff he had planned on working on. We worked on some pass prevention techniques and principals, and then went into a bit of inverted guard for a triangle setup.
The tournament was in a small venue, and the number of competitors was fitting. The divisions included 170 and under intermediate no gi, 205 and under intermediate no gi, 170 and under blue belt gi, and 205 and under blue belt gi.
The rest of the tournament included super-fights, including fighters like Danny Lauzon, Renan Borges, and Sean Eager, as well as a 155 and under no gi pro devision, which I was lucky enough to compete in.
170 and under intermediate no gi first, followed be 205 no gi. There were about 2 or 3 matches going on at the same time in this small venue, but everything seemed to go right about on time. The pro devision started and I was the first match. I won my first and second match and lost in the semifinals to Ken Stone who went on to the finals to face Renan (BTT Boston black belt and no-gi pan-am champion). After rolling for while a white with no clear winner and advantages on both sides, Renan ended up winning in the ending seconds with an X-guard sweep. I tied for third place with Paul Gorman (brown belt under Jay Jack out of Maine) because there was no third and forth place match.
After the pro devision, the other no-gi devisions continued swiftly and went right into gi. It was interesting watching guys from such different skill levels and sizes compete. In the 170 and under weight there were guys weighing 140 grappling guys sucking down from 180. There were about half white belts in the blue belt devision.
After tying his super-fight with Renan of BTT, I caught up with the master of funny accents and eater of spicey food, Seph Smith. I asked how he was doing with training and work, since apparently he no longer has a vehicle – some drunk hit his pickup recently. “I’ve been doing well, training in Arlington all the time with Ryan” he stated. I talked to him about his website, and if that meant more seminars or lessons in his future. “No, I really just want to make a living. Someone actually made the website for me which I really appreciate (www.SephSmith.com), but I’m not necessarily getting more involved business-wise.” I went on to talk about what his main goals were. “I wanna go to the Abu Dhabis and win that thing.” I went on to ask him about his super-fight with Renan, and what he thought about him. “I think he is very good, he has all the little details down. Like, he’s very aware of everything going on – he’ll do little things like put his big toe on your leg so he knows where it is.” I talked to him about how close he was to tapping Renan; “Yeah I knew I was close there but he was able to turn in. I was also unaware that our match wouldn’t have three 5 minute rounds like the other super fights.”
I also stopped by to talk with Mr. Ryan Hall himself. A few months back he was injured pretty badly while training, and has had a few surgeries on the effected area near his wrist. I asked him when he planned to be back fully with live training. “For the Abu Dhabi” he said without a millisecond of hesitation. “So you plan on being fully healed by the time the Abu Dhabi competition comes around?” I asked. “I don’t want to hurt myself before then. I hoping to be invited, winning the Abu Dhabi is my biggest goal right now.” Ryan went into a bit of detail in terms of how he plans to face his competition (haha); “I plan to win the majority of my matches with grappling moves.”
Micro: “How else will you go about winning, Ryan?”
“With Jedi mind tricks, or when all else fails, bribery” he said while holding a straight face.
I asked what else was on his plate besides psychic skills. “I want to win the Mundial at brown belt.”
“What about the no-gi Mundials?”
“The Abu Dhabi trumps all that.”
True. We chatted Bit longer about the state of BJJ as a sport, and I bumped into some other grapplers.
I caught up with Sean Eager, on of Jay Jack’s fighters from Maine. I asked him about his super-fight. “I faced some Team Link purple belt who was pretty good. I ended up getting him with a heel hook.” I asked Eager what he thought of the tournament. He said some of his guys back in Maine were disappointed that there wasn’t a heavier weight class (about 205).
Overall the tournament seemed to go well, with notably less drama than the average tournament – most of which might have been due to the small venue and smaller number of competitors. The super-fights were very exiting, especially Danny Lauzon‘s match, which lasted nearly 15 minutes until Dan finished with an armbar. I’d love to see more of these at other tournaments. I left about 6:25pm, and said goodbye to all the guys hanging out on the mats.
This is the fourth in our new column, Tournament Review Tuesdays, where FightWorks Podcast listeners submit reports about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions that happened the weekend prior. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of The FightWorks Podcast. – Caleb