LONG BEACH, Calif. -- This time, the show went off without a hitch.
Last year's World Jiu-Jitsu Expo superfight card was best remembered for the main event which didn't happen, as Nick Diaz showed up at the Long Beach Convention Center for his match with Braulio Estima, decided the deck was stacked against him, then no-showed the fight.
In the evening's co-feature bouts, both went to 20-minute time limit draws in their submission-only matches: Shields with Leandro Lo and Fitch with Paulo Miayo.
For Fitch, the evening was both a throwback to when he first broke into fighting, and something he had wanted to do for quite some time.
"Back in the day, when I was learning about MMA and grappling and all this stuff was new, in the late ‘90s, you got a lot of these type of matches," Fitch said. "Big-name MMA guys competing cross-sport -- this guy's in Abu Dhabi, this guy did this, this guy did that -- and you're going to see guys in different places compete, different weight classes, different styles. It was something me and my friends got into this subculture, there was no internet, we were trading VHS tapes and stuff like that."
Fitch is just two weeks removed from his split-decision win over Marcelo Alfaya at World Series of Fighting 6. Maiyo worked several submissions on Fitch, who actively engaged Maiyo over the course of the fight. Fitch was able to defend them all.
If anything, the way the fight played out left Fitch wishing he had more time to prepare.
"I'm kicking myself in the butt now because I wish I had a little bit more time," Fitch said. "Maybe one more week, to gain the confidence to attack him more. I had a two-week crash course with Dave Camarillo throwing all sort of stuff at me, he shut me down and I tried to press a little bit. I wish I had pressed more, put him on his back more. Just a little bit more. But that's alright, it's for fun and it was a good experience."
Miayo, through an interpreter, credited Fitch's submission defense.
"I went straight for submissions and whatever I could do," Miayo said. "But this time it didn't work. He defended it well."
Shields, meanwhile, is one of MMA's most decorated jiu-jitsu players, but was competing in a high-level grappling event for the first time since 2005. The NorCal-based fighter held his own against Leandro Lo, especially considering he admitted afterwards that he didn't study any tape on Lo until Saturday night.
"If I was being totally honest, I gotta say I didn't really look him up until last night," said Sheilds. "I was doing seminars in Vegas, I've been busy the past couple weeks after the Demian Maia fight. I watched a few fights online last night. I was still in good shape from the fight."
Before the superfight card, Shields was given an award by WJJE officials for having, in their estimation, the best jiu-jitsu in MMA in 2013.
"I'd love to be involved in more competitions," Shields said. "I competed in jiu-jitsu for so long, It was fun to go back out there and go to where it all started. You see these superfight lineups now, they're stacked, I hope more names from MMA come out for these."
Former UFC competitor Dean Lister gave the crowd what they wanted in his 20-minute submission-only fight with Tarsis Humpreys. Lister, a two-time ADCC gold medalist, leglocked Humphreys and got the tap at 10:20.
"I felt really good about it," Lister said. "He was turning right, he was defending it well, but I held on."
In the opening match of the superfight card, a 10-minute bout under IBJJF rules, five-time World Championship gold medalist Bruno Malfacine outpointed Jeff Glover of Santa Barbara, Calif., 5-2.