Thursday, October 26, 2017

View From The Hawk's Nest: EBI 13 "The Lightweights"



View from The Hawks Nest
An event review from a fan's perspective

By Matthew “MMAHAWK” Hawkins

Eddie Bravo Invitational 13 The Lightweights
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All Photos by Matthew Hawkins

On Sunday October 22nd the thirteenth edition of the Eddie Bravo Invitational took place. The site for the action would again be the Orpheum theater in downtown Los Angeles. The show was set to showcase the lightweight division (155lbs) under classic EBI tournament rules. A 16 man elimination tournament as well as a four man tournament in the welterweight division (170lbs) held under the rules of Combat Jiu Jitsu (CJJ). Under those rules palm strikes are allowed to be thrown by competitors when the action hits the mat. As a result those bouts are regulated by CAMO (California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization) due to the legal strikes taking place. So the stage was set for a great night of grappling action and this time, we had the ultimate view for the Hawks Nest.

This is the second time I’ve had the privilege to cover EBI for theMMACommunity.com. Finding the theater was not an issue and the easy access parking lot directly next to it’s doors provided an efficient trips in and out before and after the show. There is a $10 fee but for all day parking on a Sunday, it’s not a bad deal. Now for those unfamiliar with the routine of covering events, arrival is expected several hours prior to the start. In this case I arrived at 3pm and was able to attend the rules meeting. Usually these are nothing but a quick review of the rules after which the promoter does a “go get ‘em” pep talk to the competitors. During all of this I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rules for EBI are constantly evolving. Eddie Bravo took the time to demonstrate possible moves and what would be deemed legal and illegal. He also addressed several questions that even led to some changes in the rules. It was determined that overtime ride time would be capped at 5 minutes per round. This was changed when a few competitors expressed concern of a player holding position for “hours” with no intention of advancing. With the event being broadcast on UFC fight pass Eddie agreed and the change was made on the spot. The enthusiasm and openness to change is something that will allow EBI to continue to flourish in the combat world.

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We finally made it to 6pm and the show was ready to kick off. Leading the way would be the number one seed and reigning lightweight, welterweight (which he didn’t defend at EBI 11 which was won by Gordon Ryan), and light heavyweight kingpin Garry Tonon. Coming into this event, Garry was undefeated in EBI with tournament victories at EBI 1,3,5, and 9. Quickly becoming a huge name in the submission world, “The Lion Killer” would be out to feast again. In the opening bout he’d be facing Chance Broad. A few minutes later Garry would be celebrating a Heel hook victory and a place in the quarterfinals. The round of 16 would commence with 6 of the 8 bouts ending in a finish. Like Tonon, Ross Keeping and Mike Padilla used heel hooks to advance. While Luis Valente (knee bar), Vagner Rocha (Rear naked choke), and Nathan Orchard (Face crank) also advanced with finishing holds. Keith Krikorian and PJ Barth would use the overtime rules and move on due to quickest escape time.

The quarterfinals were now set and after the opening round Tonon appeared to be poised to continue his domination. His next opponent would be Ross Keeping who was impressive with his 3 minute sub of John Battle in the opening round. However, he too was quickly shown the door by Tonon by a well executed armbar/triangle 3 minutes into their match. Now in just a few minutes of match time Gary had already finished two opponents with perfectly applied submission holds and pocketed $5,000 for each. In the round of eight the remaining competitors began to establish themselves as threats to the champion. Nathan Orchard would advance (again) by another painful looking face crank. Lucas Valente also gathered his second finish of the evening via face crush. That victory would put him in the semifinals, right in the crosshairs of Tonon. The second semifinal would feature the aforementioned Orchard against UFC veteran Vagner Rocha, who for the second time tonight took his bout into overtime. This time he was able to finish the extremely game PJ Barch in a fun back and forth match. Rocha, who has a history with Tonon, was one win away from another match with the champ and a chance to become King of the Mountain.

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Garry Tonon uses an arm bar / triangle to finish his quarterfinal opponent Ross Keeping

So the semifinals were now set and like the previous round, Tonon was able to make extremely short work of his adversary. He defeated Valente by a brutal heel hook that left the him limping on an obviously damaged ankle. Tonon has now finished his first three opponents while taking little to no damage himself. The only question remaining was...who would be the final victim he would face to close out the tournament? After a long match between Vagner Rocha and Nathan Orchard, that question would be answered. Rocha who had used overtime to advance in his first two bouts again found himself under EBI overtime rules. In the first round of OT he would max out the new 5 minute control time rule. This control time would eventually lead to another victory as after 3 overtime rounds he again advanced in the tournament by quicker escape time. The stage was now set for a Tonon vs Rocha final. Would a new champ be crowned? Or would the defending champ continue on his rampage through this EBI field.

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Nathan Orchard looks for a finish over Mike Padilla


Before we crown the champion, there was this CJJ tournament to settle. On one side of the bracket we saw EBI and Metamoris Veteran Richie “The Boogeyman” Martinez pitted vs Bobby Emmons fighting out of Nice Guys Submission Fighting. Early in the match Emmons landed several good strikes while controlling from side position. After a few minutes of this, Martinez was able to create a scramble during which he locked in a tight darce choke that forced Emmons to tap prior to the 4 minute mark. The second semifinal was a match between Xtreme Couture product Max Rohskopf and former RFA mma lightweight champion Thiago Moises. After three minutes of little action, Moises pulled guard. Rohskopf was then able to sit in guard and land a few strikes. Eventually Moises was able to sweep Max and end up in mount. From there he locked in an arm bar and got the tap a few seconds later. The submission set up the CJJ final versus Martinez.

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Richie Martinez advances to the CJJ final with a perfectly executed Darce choke
The championship match, which took place right before the 16 man final, started slow. At one point Martinez pulled guard and attempted to work the same Darce that worked earlier in the night. After 3 minutes of pushing and clinching, a unique CJJ rule was applied. This rule puts the fighters on the mat if the fighters couldn’t couldn’t get there within 3 minutes thus allowing the use of strikes and subs in an attempt to promote action. A coin flip is used to determine position of top or bottom. In this case, even this didn’t lead to an end and the contest was headed to overtime. The 10th Planet Freaks representative, Martinez, went first and chose the spider web position. This position puts him on top in a position to work for an arm bar. 12 seconds later he was able to finish the straight arm bar and the only way for his opponent to save his arm was to tap. Moises was was given the chance to answer with a finish of his own but he had only 12 seconds which was nowhere near enough time and Richie Martinez was crowned the first 170lb CJJ champion. After receiving his belt an emotional Martinez thanked his 10th Planet Team in his post match interview.

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With this arm bar finish Martinez is crowned CJJ welterweight champion

The time had come to determine the EBI 13 lightweight champion. Garry Tonon had made easy work of his first 3 opponents, using only a fraction of the allotted match time to finish all three while Vagner Rocha took the opposite path, needing overtime in all 3 of his previous match-ups. In combat sports anything is possible but tonight there was no doubt who was on top. Minutes into the final match Tonon secured an inside heel hook that forced Rocha to tap out earning yet another $5,000 bonus. The champ had showed up and subbed his way through the entire field with relative ease to defend his belt. There may have been some revenge on his mind, for a loss last month to Vagner at ADCC 2017 but this was EBI and here, it appears, nobody beats “The Lion Killer”.