Here are some random observations I have made about ADCC.
The opening rounds are most interesting as the chance for submissions is highest. You find the favorites matched up against regional qualifying athletes of vastly different experience levels.
This may result in two interesting outcomes :
1) A spectacular submission by the favorite over a lesser experienced athlete
2) A big upset, like Craig Jones choking pre-tournament favorite Leandro Lo
The later matches — while featuring epic match-ups between the top seeds — are plagued by overly cautious matches that most often go to 20-minute draws without a single point being scored.
Polish athletes looked to be strong and technical. Draculino.said a few years back that Poland would be one to watch in producing top level grapplers.
Stalling And Penalty Points
The primary weakness of the ADCC rules are the long periods of stand-up hand fighting. A solid wrestler can really stall a match in this way. More than a few passivity points were handed out in.the first day, but few were handed out in the second.
Day 1 saw Marcelo Mafra stall his way over a constantly attacking Oliver Taza, so ADCC still has a ways to go before they adequately deal with the passivity problem.
Andre Galvao continues his domination of the ADCC superfights with his third consecutive victory over 2015 Absolute Champion Claudio Calasans. Galvao pushed the action and got several takedowns against the surprisingly passive Calasans. He won 14-0.
Chael Sonnen’s victory over a much smaller Leo Vista was not a riveting affair. The match was Sonnen pushing Leo back in butterfly guard for the entirety of the match while digging the eighties heavy metal of Iron Maiden, Van Halen, and Judas Priest in the background.
Leg locks were not as big of a factor as in the submission-only EBI, but they figured prominently in the epic Leandro Lo upset to Craig Jones. Lo seemed rattled by the onslaught of leg locks from the bottom and never seemed to find his rhythm in the match. While not submitted by a leg lock, the threat led to the eventual back take and choke.
More than a few of the competitors exhibited a physique reminiscent of comic book super heroes. The topic of chemically enhanced athletes at top level grappling competitions continues to be a question. Personally, I don’t care what professional athletes do as long as it is legal in their chosen sport.
AJ Agazarm looked as depleted as a castaway in a desert island, but it seemed to have worked for him as he robbed the finals in the stacked 66 kg division, though he lost narrowly (and surprisingly!) to the wrestling of Ruben “Cobrinha” Charles.
Gordon Ryan vs. Keenan Cornelius
This was an all American final in an event historically dominated by Brazilian fighters. Ryan was surprisingly well-rounded, especially his wrestling and pressure passing. Few finals matches at this high level are decided by submission, but Ryan’s arm in guillotine from front headlock clearly decided the winner.
Buchecha took his weight class based on back takes but the Absolute title eluded him for at least two more years. It’s not difficult to imagine him adding that honor in the future.
The match of the tournament for me was the Absolute quarterfinals between Buchecha and Xande Ribeiro. A noticeably fatigued Buchecha outpointed an outsized but tenacious and technical Xande. This was two legends of jiu-jitsu getting after it and going for the win.
Felipe “Preguica” Pena lost a razor thin match against Yuri Simoes in his weight category, but like Robert Drysdale in the past, redeemed himself in the Absolute category by taking arguably the top honor in the jiu-jitsu world over Gordon Ryan. Pena has had ups and downs in the last several years, and this victory cements him among the elite.