This weekend the UFC brings not only an expo for fans, but also a grappling tournament co-promoted by Grapplers Quest. The two companies have combined to bring out some top stars for the superfights, and fans lucky enough to be in Las Vegas will have the please of checking out some quality ground work.
Ulysses “Useless” Gomez vs. Rumina Sato
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu purple belt Ulysses Gomez began training in 2001. Now, Gomez is one of Marc Laimon’s top instructors and one of the hottest prospects in MMA’s budding flyweight or 125-pound division. In MMA, “Useless” sports a 3-1 record with his only loss coming against Muay Thai ace Rambaa Somdet. Over the course of his grappling career, he has won a variety of tournaments including, Grapplers Quest, Desert Quest, and NAGA. He is also the first ever American to win the FILA Pankration World Championships.
At one point Rumina Sato was the unquestionable face of Shooto. He represented the sport well with his dynamic submission game and flying armbars and triangles. Eventually the rest of the MMA community caught up to him. Recently “Moon Wolf” punctuated a string of four consecutive defeats by losing to the new face or “Charisma” of Shooto Takeshi Inoue. Fans eager to see Sato compete State side should not miss this match, as Sato has pledged to never fight MMA outside of Shooto until he wins a world title. At this stage in his career, it is safe to say he is staying there.
Those hoping for a flashback to Sato’s days of electrifying submissions will be disappointed as Gomez will be able to impose his will with superior wrestling and positioning. Sato’s size advantage may be a wildcard considering he normally competes as a featherweight compared to Gomez who is a flyweight.
Fredson Paixao vs. Jeff Glover
Although he lost in his WEC debut against top contender Wagney Fabiano, Fredson Paixao is a seriously skilled grappler. The four time BJJ world champion surprisingly made the transition from purple to black belt in mere four years. Those more interested in his MMA career will not have to wait long as he is scheduled to fight Cole Province on the WEC 42 card in August.
Jeff Glover should certainly feel right at home during the expo. He has won 22 Grapplers Quest tournaments over the course of his career. This Ricardo Miller black belt has also placed well in the IBJJF No-Gi World Championships finishing first in 2007 and second in 2008. Recently, Glover’s guard was rated best by Gracie Magazine.
Fredson Paixao should be the favorite here, since he has placed higher in more high quality tournaments. This is not to say the Glover does not have a chance. He is a very dynamic grappler who is much more versatile without the Gi. To play it safe, Paixao will take this one on points.
Joe Stevenson vs. Bill Cooper
MMA fans have long considered Joe Stevenson to be a quality grappler. His guillotine choke has become legendary, as he has defeated four opponents with it. Recently, Stevenson got back on track by defeating Nate Diaz and preventing a three fight skid. The black belt under Robert Drysdale will return to the grappling mats this weekend.
Bill Cooper earned his black belt from Ricardo Miller in prodigious fashion at the age of 20. Over the course of his career he has won 24 Grapplers Quest titles as well as Impact in Japan. “The Grill” recently opened his own gym, and is looking to make a big splash.
With the way these matches are scored, there is little doubt that Stevenson will be able to use his superior wrestling to score with takedowns. Cooper will throw submissions at him from his back, but Stevenson should have no problem fending them off after handling grapplers like Nate Diaz in MMA.
Vinny Magalhaes vs. Daniel Valverde
In true UFC fashion, there is a grudge match on the card. During The Ultimate Fighter 8 Brazilians Vinny Magalhaes and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira engaged in a war of words after Magalhaes was accused of disrespecting the legends grappling ability. Now, Daniel Valverde, Nogueira’s Jiu-Jitsu coach, will take the rivalry to the mat.
Although Vinny Magalhaes has not been able to really get his MMA career on track, he is still an outstanding grappler. Over the course of his career he is a multiple time Mundials champion. Perhaps the most notable win of his career came in the PSL as he defeated ADCC absolute champion Robert Drysdale.
Daniel Valverde started training in martial arts when he was only five years old. Now he is a black belt in Judo and a third degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Osvaldo Alves, who is the technical director of the BJJ Confederation.
This match will certainly be the highlight of the superfights. Expect Magalhaes to take this one, because he is a much more active competitor. While they both coach, Magalhaes was in grappling action earlier this month, and had an MMA fight not long before that.