One of jiu-jitsu's most intriguing and buzzworthy events returns Sunday evening as Metamoris stages their second event. Another Gracie will headline, as Rickson's Gracie's black belt son Kron takes on ONE FC lightweight champion Shinya Aoki in the main event. Also on the card is UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub against Roberto 'Cyborg' Abreu as well as top competitor Rodolfo Vieira against black belt world champ turned fighter Braulio Estima.
Can Kron Gracie use his traditional game to defeat the unorthodox attacks of Aoki? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Metamoris 2.
What: Metamoris 2: Gracie vs. Aoki
Where: The Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Sunday, the six-match card begins on Internet pay-per-view at Metamoris.com at 7 p.m. ET.
Kron Gracie vs Shyina Aoki
Condition: No Gi
I have a hard time seeing how Kron loses this match, for any number of reasons. He's got much better experience against better competition, including a submission victory over multiple-time world champion Ottavio Souza in the first Metamoris event. He's arguably bigger, competing around the 180-pound mark, although it's hard to say how large Aoki is in walking around weight. Most importantly, I'm just not sure what attacks Aoki has in his arsenal that will prove to be difficult for Gracie to counter. Foot locks? Rubber guard? Berimbolo back take? I simply do not believe he'll be able to effectively execute any non-traditional attack and he certainly can't go head-to-head with Gracie on the meat and potatoes of the game.
This match is under no gi conditions, which could make anything possible, including any number of escapes. But as Aoki tries working a 50/50 or rubber guard, Gracie is going to wait for his opening, rely on his fundamentals, and ultimately end the match.
Braulio Estima vs Rodolfo Vieira
This is your unofficial main event, if you're a jiu-jitsu enthusiast. With the exception of his final match against Marcus 'Buchecha' Almeida in the gold medal bout of the Absolutes at the world championships, Vieira railroaded everyone. His top game is incredibly nasty, his passing both pressure and finesse and his array of submissions nearly endless.
Estima was believed to be not on his game and transitioning to a world of MMA before closing out his division at the world championships with a teammate. Estima has a vicious open guard with a wide arsenal of sweeps and submissions, particularly from spider guard.
In short, expect Vieira to work on top while Estima looks to take the back or sweep (he won't submit from his back). All things being equal, though, I firmly believe only Buchecha can beat him.
Andre Galvao vs. Rafael Lovato Jr.
This one could be interesting. Lovato will look to work on top with a passing, cross choke, top game. I don't see any way he can submit Galvao from his back and in any case, that's not his style of attack. For Galvao, though, he can basically work anywhere. He took a disappointing third at this year's world's, but is a complete grapplers. And by complete, I mean he'll be able to work a takedown or throw on Lovato. This is a well-matched bout as there's history between these two and they are both top competitors, but the style match-up in the rules set tells me it could be a lot of non-action mostly in Galvao's favor.
Michelle Nicolini vs Mackenzie Dern
If there's a blowout on this card, it's either the Cyborg vs. Schaub match or this one. It's not that Dern isn't a legitimate black belt and a hell of a competitor, but she's new to the division. More importantly, Nicolini just won the worlds in her weight category and did so with relative ease. If Nicolini wants to transition to the back for a toehold, she will. If he she wants to pass on top and hit a bread cutter, she can. I have a hard time seeing Dern being able to stop any serious offensive pressure from Nicolini, who is also arguably a much better athlete.
Roberto 'Cyborg' Abreu vs. Brendan Schaub
Condition: No Gi
If Abreu loses or is submitted here, I'll eat my hat. I respect Schaub quite a bit for taking on this challenge, but I literally cannot fathom a scenario where he wins (short of injury), especially now that three judges will make a determination in the event of a draw.
Abreu is a vicious, vicious guard player. He's mobile, attacks from all angles, has incredibly complicated and innovative guard attacks (the master of the tornado guard), and more. He also has proven he has good resiliency in bad spots (the 2009 match with Bill Cooper). He's not the athlete Schaub is necessarily, nor does he share the size. And it's true, size differential can shut down a portion of an opponent's game, offensive and defensive. That this match is no gi further gives Schaub an ability to leverage his size and athleticism.
But there's only so many conditions they can create before they can no longer tilt the balance. Abreu is a vastly superior grappler, athletic and full of all sorts of attacks to find an opening.
Victor Estima vs JT Torres
I'm not sure what to make of this one. Both guys are coming in as late replacements, so it's hard to say what they might do except what they normally do. Torres has a full array of armbars and wicked back-takes from guard. Estima has a very well-rounded game and is strong virtually everywhere. I'll go out on a limb and say Estima's 'comprehensive' game will be enough to earn a judges' decision.