Recent happenings in the worlds of sambo, judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, submission grappling and/or collegiate/freestyle wrestling. If it takes place on the ground and it's interesting, it should be here.
April is often a time of rest and renewal. For combat sports athletes, particularly those who play Olympic sports, April is the time to show that you can hang with the big names and compete on a world class level. The U.S. freestyle wrestling Olympic Trials are coming up soon, the politics are flying within the judo world for the invitational spots to the Olympics, the Abu Dhabi World Pro is being held right now and the Bellator Season Six fighters are battling for tournament wins and title defenses.
Below the jump, a quick set of updates on the worlds of judo and wrestling, a reminder to watch sambo player Denis Smoldarov tomorrow evening, several deep links from the Brazilian jiu jitsu or submission grappling world and some nice odds and ends for you to ponder.
If you have any links of your own, questions or comments, leave them below or get word to me at DefGrappler on Twitter. Please let me know if I missed anything major and I will fix this, that and the other thing.
We at Bloody Elbow are going to bring you several Olympic Trials article, as several competitors in it already belong to the MMA world or have the potential to cross over soon. The Mat tells us that NBC Sports Network (the channel we used to call Versus) will televise the first day of Olympic Trials wrestling on the next day, Sunday, April 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. ET. The final day of Olympic Trials wrestling will be on on the next day, Monday, April 23 from 3 to 6 p.m. ET.
It is worth throwing a reminder in here that the U.S. has not qualified for the 66 kg division in the Olympics. There will still be a Trials for the weight, but some complicated stuff is about to ensue if the U.S. does qualify by winning a big tournament and it is with a wrestler other than the Trials winner.
Henry Cejudo is already cutting weight for these trials, despite being a globe-trotting brand ambassador. Here he is making do with a make-shift sauna:
Dustin Schlatter speaks with Andrew Hipps of InterMat about his Olympic freestyle aspirations, training and how MMA lurks in the back of his mind. He is a University of Minnesota product and for some reason, the Golden Gophers really have a strong connection to MMA. It must be the cold and the pent-up anger or something.
As a reminder, there are no longer Olympic Trials for judoka. The system recently changed so that the top twenty-two men and top fourteen women in each weight category qualify, as determined by the points-based world rankings (collected over the last two years). However, only one judoka per country gets to go in each division. There are quite a few top ranked judoka who are from the same country, so there can be a face-off or a game of politics to determine which one gets the Olympics bid.
There are plenty more spots, but they are assigned with a mix of ideas in mind: to get at least 100 countries into the Olympics and to keep the highest ranking people in the mix, without violating the one judoka per country rule. England also gets a few more spots because they are the organizers and then a small number of invitations are given out for special cases. These spots are where the politics come into play big time and cause headaches. It is far better to be Number 1 than to hustle that invitation spot.
Jordon Schultz, the controversial brown belt competitor, has a really good and short breakdown of the armbar Rafael Mendes applied to Cobrinha in the finals of the Pan Am championship. It is fascinating to see a high level competitor explain the decision tree and the little things that lead to victories like that.
At a recent medical conference, I ran into Sambo Steve, a familiar face on the Sherdog Grappling Forums. Needless to say, he is far more aware of the recent happenings in the sambo world than I am and I will endeavor to make this section a more regular feature.
Tomorrow at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 14, Denis Smoldarev, a World Combat Sambo bronze medalist, will fight Johnny Curtis in an MMA bout. Smoldarev is 3-0 and fought in an M-1 Challenge card last month. The Estonian has been active in the sambo scene for a while now (as shown by this match against Kiril Sidelnikov from the European Championships final in 2010) and looks to be making a full time move to MMA. New Jersey is a great place to get some quality wins, as Greg Soto, John Cholish and a few others have come up to the UFC from CFFC and yet others have come up from Ring of Combat (most recently, Tom DeBlass).
Sambo Steve also provided this quick video highlight of the 2012 Igor Kurinnoy Tournament in which the next generation of sambo grapplers features heavily (after all the pageantry).
Odds and Ends:
Bruno Malfacine, the current roosterweight world champion in Brazilian jiu jitsu, weighs about 125 pounds and stands at roughly 5'5". This golden eagle he's holding on his arm can have a wingspan well over 7 feet and weigh up to 20 pounds. Some day, I want to go to Mongolia and see the herders interact with their golden eagles.