Matwork!: Abu Dhabi World Pro, Olympic Trials, Gibbon Vs. Cat


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.

We kick this off with perhaps the best animal-based analogue to the Hiroshi Nakamura and Rodrigo Lima bout from Bellator 64 that I've ever seen.

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.

A list of official crew Twitter accounts is right here for your pickings: BloodyElbow Twitter, Luke Thomas,Kid Nate, Brent Brookhouse, Stephie Daniels, Richard Wade, Chris Barton, Damon O,Scott Broussard, Tim Burke, Matt Bishop, Fraser Coffeen, Dallas Winston, KJ Gould, Anton Tabuena, T.P. Grant.

Wrestling News:

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.

Judo News:

Dr. Ann Maria DeMars (the mother of Ronda Rousey) has her own judo-specific blog. It is entertaining because she delivers her opinion as honestly as possible and informative because she freely gives us reaction drills like this to improve our throws and newaza.

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.

Submission Grappling/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu News:

Kit Dale tells the story of how an Aussie rose to elite competition level brown belt inside three and a half years and shows some insight into training with the Atos crew. In his post about placing third at the 2012 Pan Am are videos, pictures and lots of personal stories.

The Jiu Jitsu Lab (one of the best technical grappling blogs anywhere) has a terrific Leg Drag Pass breakdown through video and examples for you to digest. The same spot has quite a good look at the 2012 Pan Am as a tournament, as well as highlighting a few awesome competitors.

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.

Leah from Hong Kong gives us some intensity-variable games you can play with your grappling class to work transitions and positions while still having fun.

Mark Curry, an Irish purple belt under Braulio Estima, has a rather amusing blog about fighting his first amateur MMA fight in Zurich on about six weeks notice.

Sambo News:

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.


via Bruno Malfacine's Instagram.

A very good look into the recent controversy over Greg Oden's knees and the Portland Trail Blazers' handling of his rehab by BlazersEdge. The kerfluffle started when an athletic trainer consultant let loose about what he saw as mishandling of a promising young talent or even as corruption and job-preservation after a three year hush-your-mouth obligation expired.

A spectacular NY Times article on the early career of Peter Dinklage and how his integrity and determination has served him well with the Game of Thrones success - although he was durn poor at first.

The Hunger Games movie is sexist, and not actually feminist, as The Last Psychiatrist explains.

Kevin Kelly hits us with another edition of his collected quotes.

People, I always need more awesome Odds & Ends. Videos, gifs, links, whatever. Do not hesitate to send them my way in the comments or on Twitter.

Def Grappler out!

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