Ryan Hall vs Kurt Pellegrino Grapplers Quest Superfight Preview

Ryan Hall (red shirt) competing at ADCC 2009 via ADCCBarcelona.com

This is a guest post by Patrick Tenney, part of the Bloody Elbow Grappling Coverage Team. The 2011 Grapplers Quest US National Championships take place Saturday June 18 starting at 8:00 a.m. at  the Mennen Sports Arena, in Morristown, New Jersey.

This weekend we’ll see giants collide in MMA, but we’ll also be treated to another exciting crossover submission grappling superfight between the freshly retired (from MMA) Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino (Black Belt under Hermes Franca) and Ryan Hall (of 50/Fifty BJJ in Arlington, VA; Black Belt under Felipe Costa).

In essence Ryan Hall is continually getting put up against strong athletes with very good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu backgrounds in their own right and he’s able to shut them down with his natural abilities and technical prowess.  Ryan is an ADCC 2011 invitee and he’s coming fresh off of training for the Mundials; his mind, I’m sure, has switched into no-gi mode in preparation for the ADCC.

Something many people aren’t taking into account in this match is the fact that Ryan took Hermes Franca out at one of the GQ superfights, Hermes is the man who awarded Kurt the rank of black belt in BJJ and in doing so caused the rift between himself and Marcus Aurelio (one of the four black belts present when Hermes himself attained the rank).  Kurt’s got to feel at least a little motivated by getting the shot to take out the grappler who last year beat the man who awarded him his rank.  Kurt himself aside from being a black belt in BJJ is a two time New Jersey state wrestling finalist with 10 wins by submission in MMA under his belt.

Grapplers Quest has been putting on these superfights with increasing frequency, pitting some of the top tier grapplers MMA has to offer against some of the best competitors of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition circuits.  With more and more crossover appeal between the two sports and with even more mixed martial artists realizing the potential advantages of having a diverse and total Jiu Jitsu game added to their arsenal we will no doubt see more of these in the future; especially with current MMA stars like Ben Henderson amongst others competing in major grappling competition.

After the break we'll delve a little bit deeper into some videos of past Hall vs. MMA superfights and get some predictions from some of our regular grappling contributors here at Bloody Elbow.

It seems recently that Ryan Hall has been tearing through the superfights against current and former MMA fighters set up by Grapplers Quest. He’s taken out Hermes Franca:


He’s fought off Diego Sanchez and Jorge Britto:


He’s beaten Nam Phan and Wilson Reis:

And one for the road, just because everyone loves a good D’Arce choke:

Kurt Pellegrino vs. Marcos Avellan (wrestling intensive!):


Some predictions from your friendly neighborhood Bloody Elbow Grappling Coverage Team:

Ben Thapa: Pellegrino is a good black belt. Ryan Hall is an elite black belt. The difference between the two isn't that great in a cage, but when the rules are grappling only and for ten minutes, the gulf widens. One or two mistakes by Kurt and Ryan will have enough of an opening to crack things wide open for his game and strategy. Pellegrino may be able to avoid the submission, like Diego Sanchez did, but I strongly doubt he can avoid being swept at least once or have his back taken. Ideally, Kurt would want to stay out of the 50/50 guard entirely and smother Ryan's game from side control, as Tanquinho Mendes did so nastily in the Worlds this year. Ryan probably cannot match the takedown ability of Pellegrino and will pull guard and hunt the sweep and submissions from the bottom. Pellegrino does have plenty of guts and will assuredly come forwards and engage as much as possible. This will be a fun battle to watch, but I have to give Hall the nod for his competition experience and ability to get leglocks from the bottom.  Ryan Hall.

Josh:  Ryan Hall is a 24x Grapplers Quest Champion and one the world's premiere grapplers.  Kurt Pellegrino is a talented jiu jitsu artist and wrestler but Hall is to much in the match up.  Hall recently defeated Diego Sanchez (another guy with great wrestling and jitsu) on points, but I think he can finish Pellegrino.  He uses that funky
50/50 style that he's perfected to latch on a heel hook.  Ryan Hall by Heel Hook.

Tom Grant:  Kurt Pellegrino is a great fighter and phenomenal grappler, I have nothing but respect for the man. But he is going into Ryan Hall's world at Grappler's Quest. I give Kurt the conditioning and wrestling edge, but Hall has a guard that will make Kurt remember the Diaz "double bird" triangle fondly. Ryan hall by Decision.

Patrick Tenney:  I’m not really objective here at all, it’s pretty well known that I’m a Ryan Hall fan; he’s a NoVA kid like me and a lot of his grappling flow has inspired mine; I’ve seen him train, been to his school, rolled with his students and watched his matches intently; I can tell you straight off that he’s going to avoid the takedown game with Kurt, if Kurt tries to come inside on Ryan he’ll end up in the 50/50 and odds are… he’ll be tapping or getting his back taken/being swept.  Once Ryan is able to establish his favored positions he’ll start hunting for the subs; triangle, heel hook, or an RNC.  The best shot Kurt has in my opinion is to try and dictate the positions better than Ryan can, if Kurt can turn this into a wrestling match and not get forced by the referee to engage in bad positions he may eke out a win, if Kurt is to win by submission the only way I see it going down is if he can get on Ryan’s back and brute in a rear naked choke; everyone needs to keep in mind though that Kurt is absolutely no slouch when it comes to leg locks and he's scored a few wins via Achilles locks and the like; Ryan has to keep that in mind when and if he's going for those leg lock positions.  Ryan Hall by Submission (heel hook).

K.J. Gould:  I'm a big believer in sports specificity when it comes to training as well as competing actively. Pellegrino has been somewhat active in MMA, but Hall has been really active in both straight BJJ competition as well as No Gi submission grappling and at a high level. Pellegrino will put up a spirited effort but I just see Hall being able to work his sweeps and take the back and actually having an easier time of it compared to his bout with Diego Sanchez. Ryan Hall by Decision.

So will we see the young phenom, mma grappling superfight hunter and current Jiu Jitsu competition circuit regular prevail?  Or will we see Batman break the superfight losing streak that his MMA compatriots have racked up in the GQ superfights?

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