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Polaris 20 results: Demian Maia beats Benson Henderson, Team Brazil defeats Team USA

Grappling representatives from the USA and Brazil battled at Polaris Squads this weekend, with a superfight match featuring Demian Maia and Benson Henderson.

Mica Galvao Defeating Keith Kirkorian, Polaris 20
Polaris Professional Jiu Jitsu

Countries collided this weekend as some of the best grapplers from Brazil and the United States of America battled at Polaris 20 Squads. Attendees packed the International Convention Centre in Wales for a glimpse of BJJ royalty, ADCC vets and IBJJF worlds winners joined by the ever-novel mixed-weight team ruleset. This cross-Atlantic feud was further stoked by the event’s superfight match, pitting former UFC champ Benson Henderson against fellow UFC alum and 2007 ADCC winner Demian Maia.

Round One

Our first half gave us matchups of incredibly well-paired opponents. With three straight draws from the likes of Nathan Orchard, Geo Martinez, Igor Tanabe and Luiz Paulo, The first points on the board would dictate the first half. Mason Fowler hoped to deliver in his showdown with Roger Gracie black belt, Kywan Gracie.

Gracie put up a formidable offense, taking control of a collar tie to launch a flying armbar attempt in the opening 30 seconds. But the Submission Underground champion was quick to escape, passing the downed Gracie’s guard to land in north-south. He was forced to defend again as Gracie locked in an Ezekiel choke from bottom.

As miraculous a finish that would have been, Fowler calmly endured the awkward choke as Gracie’s grip strength ran out. As the hold loosened, Fowler immediately moved to attack the left arm. Briefly considering a triangle as Gracie stood, the Caio Terra black belt opted for the armbar instead. Going belly down, Gracie was quick to give the tap for the first and only sub of the first half.

First Half Results:

Luiz Paulo vs. Nathan Orchard – draw

Igor Tanabe vs. Hunter Colvin – draw

Marcelo Fausto vs. Geo Martinez – draw

Isaque Bahiense vs. Richie Martinez – draw

Mason Fowler def. Kywan Gracie via armbar

Mica Galvao vs. Keith Krikorian – draw

Diogo Reis vs. Nick Ronan – draw

Mason Fowler vs. Fabricio Andrey – draw

Jon Blank vs. Isaque Bahiense – draw

Mica Galvao vs. Geo Martinez – draw

Luiz Paulo vs. Nathan Orchard – draw

Igor Tanabe vs. Nick Ronan – draw

Keith Krikorian vs. Fabricio Andrey – draw

Brazil would bounce back hard in the second half, utilizing the skill of the recent 2022 IBJJF Worlds champion Mica Galvao. Taking the Tenth Planet superstar out first with an armbar, Galvao would face him again after Jon Blank and Isaque Bahiense fought to a draw.

Both men began with a double guard pull, immediately fighting for control of the other’s leg. They traded grips in 50/50 for a majority of the opening, but Galvao jumped into side control after moving to combat base. Locking down Kirkorian’s left arm, Galvao then slipped through Kirkorian’s legs into mount and began working the triangle. Despite Kirkorian’s defensive efforts, Galvao got the submission to pull Brazil ahead 2-1. Following a draw against Fowler, Brazil took home the victory.

Second Half Results:

Richie Martinez vs. Kywan Gracie – draw

Luiz Paulo vs. Jon Blank – draw

Diogo Reis vs. Nathan Orchard – draw

Hunter Colvin vs. Marcelo Fausto – draw

Mica Galvao def. Keith Krikorian via armbar

Mason Fowler vs. Igor Tanabe – draw

Mica Galvao vs. Nick Ronan – draw

Fabricio Andrey vs. Geo Martinez – draw

Isaque Bahiense vs. Hunter Colvin – draw

Luiz Paulo vs. Jon Blank – draw

Marcelo Fausto vs. Nick Ronan – draw

Mica Galvao def. Keith Krikorian via triangle

Mica Galvao vs. Mason Fowler – draw

Maia vs Henderson

Henderson began by circling Maia, looking to establish a collar tie on the grappling legend. Maia was soon forced to defend a close single leg, breaking down Henderson’s posture to free himself. Not wanting to stand with the more athletic Henderson, Maia pulled into closed guard and quickly worked for a hip bump sweep. Henderson immediately spread his base, and maintained posture in face of the sweep attempt.

This became a stalled point in competition, with both men unable to further develop their offense. Maia’s isolation of Henderson’s left arm and transition to a body triangle was a consistent annoyance for the lightweight legend, but his patience kept the Brazilian from advancing to submission attempts.

Despite a near triangle from Maia, Henderson freed his arm and moved to break free of closed guard. He stood, hoping to shake Maia loose and take the mount as he fell, but Maia was able to reverse the tide off a stumble and nearly take the top position himself. Henderson recuperated, and returned to inside closed guard.

Called for inaction at seven minutes in, the referee stood both men up to reset the match. Henderson went for a single leg, but Maia locked up a guillotine to force Benson to disengage. Letting the hold go after breaking Henderson down the hold, Maia moved to take the back and work an RNC.

With only one hook in, Henderson was able to defend the choke and begin to make space for an escape. In response, Maia locked in a body triangle as he deepened the choke. Henderson was briefly able to stand, but Maia endured the attempts to shake him off as gravity forced them to return to the mat. Showcasing incredible resilience against one of the greatest grapplers MMA has ever seen, Henderson defended his neck for over 10 minutes as the match neared its end.

At the 1:50 mark, Maia opened his hooks looking to reestablish a body triangle, giving Henderson the window to finally roll free and work is way back up. Defending Maia from half guard, Henderson secured a leg and landed a takedown after standing. Locking ups a guillotine as he fell, Maia failed to roll onto mount before Henderson disengaged. Both men returned to the feet in the final seconds, launching into a rapid scramble and a final takedown attempt from Henderson. But as the bell rang, the two legends could only embrace as they awaited the decision.

With his superior ride time and variety of submission attempts, Maia was awarded the decision victory.

“He’s a great wrestler, and a great jiu-jitsu fighter,” Maia said of his opponent.

Looking ahead to future matchups, Maia pointed to a pair of notoriously tough Stockton natives.

“There are some great guys I would like to fight,” the 44-year-old said. “Like Nick Diaz or Nate Diaz. That would be nice, if they want. You know, because they have great jiu-jitsu and it would be very cool.”

Which Diaz brother would you want to see tangle with Maia first?