The third installment of jiu-jitsu's most high-profile superfight series is upon us with Metamoris 3 and the event aims to settle one of the longest-run debates and points of contention in the jiu-jitsu community: Is Eddie Bravo the real deal or did he get lucky against Royler Gracie at the 2003 ADCC?
It's 11 years later the issue will ostensibly settled and it will take place at the top of a card filled with other interesting matches.
To help us break this down and do predictions, we decided to consult an expert. In this case, jiu-jitsu black belt under Felipe Costa and 2009 ADCC bronze medalist, Ryan Hall. Hall, the owner and head instructor of 50/50 Jiu-Jitsu in Falls Church, Virginia, made a name for himself on the competition circuit for his triangle series, 50/50 guard, back takes and technically innovative approach to the game. Below are his words and predictions for Saturday's event.
What: Metamoris 3
Where: Peterson Auto Museum, Los Angeles, California
When: Saturday, the six-fight superfights begin streaming online at Metamoris.com at 7 p.m. ET
Below are the words and predictions of Ryan Hall:
Speaking personally, I would've liked to have seen this take place about 10 years ago. I'm interested to see the match, but this is the sort of thing, at least in my opinion, that's like, 'Guys, if you had such an issue, settle this at some point, please.'
Now that everyone has gone on, I think dynamic is definitely altered. I would've definitely said Royler was the absolute, massive favorite - and no question in my mind, the superior grappler - at that time, when they had their match and Eddie pulled off that fantastic win. Royler was dominating the entire time and really controlling him, but Eddie was able to finish that triangle and that was an excellent win for him.
With time going the way that it has, I have on idea just how much weed Eddie has smoked and if that's made any sort of impact on his ability to function as a jiu-jitsu athlete.
If the rematch had happened 5 years ago, I'd say you'd see guard play from Eddie and top passing from Royler. Now, though, both guys have had a significant opportunity to evolve, but if I had to hazard a guess as to who has evolved more, it would most certainly be Eddie. That doesn't necessarily means he's better than Royler at this point. Even if he is, a match is a match. A fight is a fight. You can never really be sure what's going to happen. I can almost see Eddie wrestling. I wonder if he's putting any time into it. I can see Royler having a little bit of a different game, but if I had to hazard a guess, I know it would be the sweetest win for Royler to use the classic, smashing style, break through the rubber guard and finish from the mount or the back. Eddie would, I know, get quite a bit of enjoyment of out being able to show what he believes is a sound guard system in the rubber guard and make some use out of it.
At this point, it's a tough call. My heart is with Royler on this one because I'd like to see even it out as the older guy, particularly as the naturally smaller guy. I remember I saw Royler at a tournament a little while back and I saw Eddie as well. Eddie's a bigger guy. I'd say this could go either direction.
Both of these guys are tough. I'd like to see the classic jiu-jitsu style really come through, but again, 48 years old is getting up there and I'm not really sure how involved Royler has remained in his training. I hope he has been involved as I think he is. I know Eddie's still open to the game and I can see him pulling off the win here again.
Pick: Royler Gracie
Rafael Mendes vs. Clark Gracie
I have to be honest and go with Rafa here. Clark is a bigger guy, but I don't think he uses a super physical style. Clark does have a very dangerous omaplata, but Rafa trains with great guys and has been on that super high level for a very long time. Rafa is certainly in the discussion for the best pound-for-pound guys out there in jiu-jitsu.
Rafa is in the new wave of jiu-jitsu competitors. Post-2007 ADCC, you saw a really giant jump in the technical level of jiu-jitsu as a whole. When you look at Rafa Mendes you see the evolution of the De La Riva guard, leg drag passing, phenomenal back tacking, nice kimuras, good arm triangle chokes which is something that we'd see a little more if it were a no gi match, excellent control over all. He's also a great finisher when he gets himself in position. If you're looking at Rafa, the things he's very well known for are his De La Riva guard, his reverse De La Riva guard, spinning underneath to the back, the berimbolo position are things he helped popularize and take to a high level that's been even furthered by the Miyao brothers that have just come up to black belt from Cicero Costha. Like I said, leg drag passing, very precise grips. Rafa is also very strong, isometrically. We're in the same weight class and I always felt like I was pretty reasonably sized for that weight and Rafa's just a little bit bigger. I think that's going to serve him well here, particularly because he didn't fight at the PanAms. I would imagine that's probably because he's getting a little bit closer to Clark's weight right now.
Clark, on the other hand, has a classic game. He was always tough, but really turned the corner at black belt after a couple of years. He has a really excellent omaplata finishing, but Rafa is the favorite in this situation.
If this were no gi, I would give it Rafa by more. Clark is dangerous against anybody, but I have to go with Rafa, for sure.
Pick: Rafael Mendes
Keenan Cornelius vs. Vinny Magalhaes
Both of these guys are phenomenal. They're both very tall and rangy and both are pretty big guys, too. Vinny was way bigger a little while back, but I think has slimmed down a little bit. Keenan has had phenomenal run through the purple and brown belt levels and has hit black belt without missing a beat. Things are going really well for him. Vinny is an incredibly dangerous foot locker with an interesting guard and flexible game that makes him dangerous for anyone. I think Vinny can tap anyone out there under the right circumstances.
I'm sure both are training with great guys. I know Vinny was brown belt absolute champion at the world championships. He's been at a high level for a long, long time.
I could see this one going either way. I would tend to think Vinny is going to wrestle better. Keenan will have a little bit more of a dangerous and diverse guard and is more of a pure jiu-jitsu guy than Vinny at this point.
That being said, if I had to take my pick, Keenan is going to be it. He's going to be the sharper jiu-jitsu competitor of the two because that's where he spends all of his time and effort. Momentum wise, Keenan is really doing great. Keenan was able to get a win at Abu Dhabi over Dean Lister.
Pick: Keenan Cornelius
Dean Lister vs. Renato Sobral
Honestly, I would tend to think this is a blowout. Babalu is a tough guy, but I don't think he's ever faced anybody like a Dean Lister in a grappling format. If he has, it certainly isn't his thing. He's been a very successful MMA fighter, but a little bit more wrestling based. Dean is incredibly dangerous and very, very tough, particularly without the gi on.
Dean is just fantastic and a great finisher. Obviously he had success in MMA, but you're talking about a guy that's a multiple-time Abu Dhabi champion that's submitted a number of the best guys in the world. Not only has he submitted guys like that, but also has himself been caught in serious dangerous by really good guys. I'm talking about guys that have no issue finishing most people, like a Xande Ribeiro. Dean's managed to somehow get himself out. People may not get the full grasp of just how good he is if they only know him from the MMA world even though he was quite successful, opponents stay away from him a little on the ground. When you have to engage him, he's a dangerous man.
I think particularly when you're talking an extended match format like Metamoris, Dean is extremely dangerous because he's such a hard guy to put away. I've got to go with Dean by leglock. It'll probably be a heel hook finish here.
Pick: Dean Lister
Gui Mendes vs. Samir Chantre
I know both of these guys. They're both excellent competitors, but again, I have to go with the guy on the left side of the bracket, Gui Mendes here. Samir is dangerous from his closed guard and is a tough guy, but particularly under the Metamoris format with the extended matches I think that it tends to favor the flowier, more positioning-based game. That's Gui Mendes, who is an excellent passer as well as guard player. Mendes has some very, very tricky guard positions. If this ends in a finish, I would look to see Gui trying to finish from the back or with the brabo choke as he's passing with the knee through.
Samir, on the other hand, is obviously very, very tough and dangerous as well, but a little bit more with the triangle in the closed guard or climbing attacks. I definitely have to give the edge to Gui here.
Pick: Gui Mendes
Zak Maxwell vs. Sean Roberts
I think this is a very good match between two, tough black belt competitors that were both successful at the lower levels and then obviously have begun to fight well at black belt. I definitely have to give the edge to Zak here. Zak is, out of the guys that have come out of the American jiu-jitsu scene, one of the most fundamentally sound pressure-based, positioning-based games out there. He's a great competitor and had a lot of success over time. He's also faced many of the best guys going and beaten many of the best guys.
Zak is known for finishing people. He's got a great omaplata. He finishes very well from the back and the mount. He's had one of the more impressive runs that I've ever seen at the lower belts when at the PanAms he was going through the absolute division just murdering people. He finishes a bunch of a guys from the mount and has excellent grips. I can see this match ending from the mounted position if Zak is able to get there.
Sean is very dangerous himself, a little bit more from the guard with some interesting leg lock positions. He's also got a sharp triangle. He's beaten some good guys before. I was actually at a Grapplers Quest one time when he triangled Benson Henderson. It was pretty cool that Henderson was out there competing in that tournament as well, but Sean is tricky off of his back. He definitely has some interesting submissions. I think Sean is dangerous against anyone, but I have to give the edge to Zak, particularly in this format.
Pick: Zak Maxwell