Bellator light heavyweight Chael Sonnen won his superfight in the second day of Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Sunday in Espoo, Finland.
The former UFC title challenger took on two-time ADCC 145-pound champion Leo Vieira. The jiu-jitsu ace replaced Frank Mir (who replaced Ricardo Liborio in the first place) against a much heavier Sonnen. Neither fighter did much over the course of the match, and Sonnen ended up winning a referee decision after no points were scored in 15 minutes.
Sonnen competed twice under grappling rules over the past few years, losing to Andre Galvao in 2014 and fighting to a draw with Renato Sobral in 2015, both matches under Metamoris rules.
Sonnen decided to enter the absolute after his win over Vieira, but ended up losing to Craig Jones via submission (heel hook) in his first match.
The big name of the absolute was Felipe “Preguiça” Pena. Gordon Ryan looked unstoppable all weekend in Finland, tapping Roberto Abreu, Craig Jones and Mahamed Aly in the absolute after winning the gold medal at the -88kg division, but “Preguiça" captured the gold by points (6-0). Pena, who won silver in the -99kg division, tapped Marcus “Buchecha" Almeida with rear-naked choke in the absolute semifinal.
The second superfight of the day featured a Pride FC 2 rematch between Renzo Gracie and Sanae Kikuta. The Brazilian veteran, who tapped Kikuta with a guillotine choke back in 1998, scored a decision victory. Gracie was originally scheduled to face Matt Hughes, but had his opponent changed after Hughes’ car accident.
In the women’s divisions, Gabi Garcia and Bia Mesquita captured gold medals in the +60kg and -60kg divisions (over and under 132.2 pounds), respectively.
Garcia won her third ADCC title by defeating Jessica Oliveira in the semifinal and submitting Bellator fighter Talita Nogueira with a straight armbar in the gold medal match. Mesquita submitted ONE’s Michelle Nicolini in the semifinal, and tapped Bianca Basilio with a rear-naked choke to win her first ADCC gold.
In the men’s divisions, a few grapplers made history in Finland, starting with 37-year-old Rubens Charles. After winning every major jiu-jitsu tournament in 2017, “Cobrinha" beat Paulo Miyao and AJ Agazarn by points (6-0) to win his third ADCC title in the -66kg (145.5 pounds) division.
JT Torres became the first non-Brazilian to ever win the -77kg (170 pounds) division. Torres, who beat Celsinho Venicius and Garry Tonon on his way to the final, defeated Lucas Lepri to capture the gold medal. UFC veteran Vagner Rocha won the bronze medal match.
The -88kg (194 pounds) also hadn’t seen a non-Brazilian champion since Sanae Kikuta’s title in 2001, and crowned Gordon Ryan in 2017. In one of the most impressive runs of this year’s ADCC, Ryan choked Keenan Cornelius with a guillotine in the final. In his previous matches, Ryan beat Dillon Danis (decision), Romulo Barral (submission) and Xande Ribeiro (decision).
Yuri Simoes continued his dominance in the -99kg (218.2 pounds) division. The ADCC 2015 winner captured his second gold with a win over Felipe Preguiça by points (2-0) in the final. Bellator fighter Rafael Lovato Jr. lost his semifinal clash to Preguiça, and then to Jackson Souza in the bronze medal match.
The +99kg (over 218.2 pounds) division featured a clash between 2013 champion Marcus “Buchecha" Almeida and 2015 champion Orlando Sanchez. “Buchecha”, who didn’t compete at the last edition of the event due to a knee injury, came back to capture his second gold medal with a win by points (6-0).