When I heard about Submission Series 902’s first Brazilian jiu jitsu event on January 23, 2015, it brought to mind the interview I did with Jay Tan and Turi Altavilla. I spoke with them about their company, the University of MMA.
READ THE INTERVIEW: What Makes the U of MMA a Different Type of Fight Show
The U of MMA is an amateur MMA promotion that helps prepare fighters for professional shows. Altavilla explained that he and Tan recognized:
[A] need in the fight community, which was the need for a great amateur level show. But not just an event that has fights. Any promoter can do that. Our events are about a community with the fighters, about offering our experience, guidance, and connections, and promoting a show that people are proud to be a part of.
Renzo Gracie blue belt Cat Clark and his professor, black belt Jaret MacIntosh, have taken a similar approach in planning Submission Series 902.
About Submission Series 902
Clark and MacIntosh decided to create the promotion in the summer of 2014, after becoming frustrated at the “lack of higher-belt level BJJ players competing at the local tournaments.” I know at the tournaments in my area the divisions for purple belt and above are small. Sometimes a division will only have three people, and most times, it’s the same three people who have competed against each other at every other tournament.
“Training for these matches allows athletes to bring their jiu jitsu games to the next level and prepares them for similar events as they progress in their careers.”
The women’s divisions are even grimmer. Competitors are frequently assigned to a single division regardless of belt and weight. When I competed locally as a blue belt, every woman outweighed me by at least fifty pounds and the experience level ranged from brand-new white belts to women who had been training for over four years. None of us had a fair fight that day.
But Clark feels he has a solution:
I firmly believe in supporting our community through providing them with the opportunity to compete on a grander scale, regardless of age or belt level. So, basically it began as an idea to help those guys and gals who have to travel nationally and internationally to compete, to be able to stay closer to home but still have the opportunity to have high-level matches.
A complaint in the BJJ community regarding these types of events is the lack of female competitors. Clark has informed me that although they scouted female competitors for the January 23 card, they weren’t able to secure any match ups. But the wheels have been set in motion for the card scheduled for June, and so far there is at least one confirmed match between female competitors.
What Is a Match Like?
Submission Series 902 has followed the lead of events like Metamoris and Polaris, scheduling all matches as fifteen-minute, submission-only bouts. Training for these matches allows athletes to bring their jiu jitsu games to the next level and prepares them for similar events as they progress in their careers.
When I interviewed Eddie Bravo about his Eddie Bravo Invitational, he was adamant about creating a format that would prevent stalling and ensure action-packed matches. I asked Clark whether he and MacIntosh had done the same. He replied:
The rules for this and all of our events will be the same: we will be following all IBJJF black belt guidelines. It’s a competition but I’d rather not have someone’s career ended on a heel hook that could have been prevented. In regards to stalling, we have something in place, but it will not be announced until the day of the event, unfortunately. Definitely something to entice the fighters!
An Impressive Line-up
Clark and MacIntosh played matchmaker for this event, and from the looks of it they did an amazing job. I can confidently predict action regardless of the rules because I train regularly with many of the competitors. I have also seen each of them compete either locally or in Montreal, Quebec. Clark provided a quick breakdown of the line-up:
The card begins with what I like to call, The Purple Belt Battle. Facing off are two high-level blue belts from the local scene who I have rolled with and competed against a lot. In my opinion, Nate O’Brien out of Titans MMA and Bushido Kai’s Colin MacMichael are the best and most deserving of this opportunity.
We also have three purple belt matches featuring very experienced competitors in several weight classes. Bushido Kai purple belt Jesse Allen will be taking on Kyle McDougall from Abhaya MMA in one of the key rematches from the 2013 Maritime circuit. Kent Peters from ZombieProof will take on highly touted MMA prospect Gavin Tucker in a no-gi war. Marmac Athletics athlete, brown belt Scott Nauss, will be facing Clinch Martial Arts purple belt, Kevin Thibault.
Following that battle is a secret match, and then Titans MMA purple belt Joel Jacquard welcomes Michael Tremblay into NS from BTT Ottawa in a rematch from last year’s Abu Dhabi trials. Next, Titans MMA brown belt Josh Presley meets Toronto BJJ brown belt Alessandro Roman Camargo in easily the best and biggest fight for the best brown belt in Canada. Finally, we have homegrown superstar Renzo Gracie black belt Kyle Sandford from Titans MMA taking on world famous Marcelo Garcia prodigy, brown belt world champion Jonathan Satava.
Preparation and Sponsorships
Preparing for this type of event allows athletes to gain not only physical experience, but also teaches them how to promote themselves through social media, create highlight videos, and give interviews. Developing these skills can help them to attract sponsors.
Sponsorships begun in widely publicized contests like these can last throughout the athlete’s career and help them purchase training gear and other financial needs. Submission Series 902 has made connections in the BJJ community as well as with local businesses to gain sponsorship for themselves and their competitors, working with companies like Subway, Highland Nissan, Mr. Donair, BC Kimonos, BJJ Depot, Iron Lion Soap, Newaza Apparel, Apollo Originals, PIctou Lounge, and Podium Jiu Jitsu.
“Preparing for this type of event allows athletes to gain not only physical experience, but also teaches them how to promote themselves through social media, create highlight videos, and give interviews.”
#Jack kicked off its inaugural live chat for UFC 182 with participants including Jack Slack, Firas Zahabi, BJJ Scout, Robin Black, Lawrence Kenshin, and many other respected analysts. A stream of that chat was uploaded to YouTube so you can get an idea of what to expect from #Jack in the video below.
Keep Up With the Latest
I strongly encourage you to tune in on January 23, 2015. In a few years, when some of these athletes have become big-shot Metamoris competitors, you’ll be able to say you saw them in their first live event.
Let’s all step up and support positive companies like Submission Series 902 and the U of MMA. In doing so, we can give something to our athletes and help expand our own possibilities in the sport.