As anyone who has applied for a Fight 2 Win event may know, the selection process can at times seem random, cards are filled with local competitors of all levels, and for a variety of reasons, you may not get on every card you apply for.
A regional tournament circuit in Ohio, however, is doing something a bit different for this year. The American Grappling Challenge (AGC) is giving winners of certain absolute divisions a spot on the upcoming Fight 2 Win in Cleveland, thus placing a small part of the selection process in the hands of the competitors themselves.
I had an opportunity to chat with tournament director Dustin Ware about his thoughts on F2W and the growth of the sub-only movement.
“The relationship between American Grappling Challenge (AGC) and F2W started with a simple email. I happened to catch one of their events on FloGrappling. Up until that point, I never really paid much attention to many of the professional grappling events as a whole. I mainly focused my interest on individual matchups.
While watching one of their events, I was really blown away by the production. But it was the idea behind giving regional competitors that type a platform to compete on that really connected with me.
Even though the AGC had hosted many world-class competitors, we had never had the chance to host a standalone event. I had been floating the idea of the AGC hosting a ‘professional event’, but obviously with nowhere near the level of production or opportunity for exposure that F2W could provide. Therefore, I simply reached out to Seth and initiated the idea of coming out to this area, which led to the relationship we have now.”
For anyone who doesn’t know, the AGC is a long-running circuit that is concentrated in the Midwest, specifically Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Western Pennsylvania. They’ve been around for over a decade and have a track record of drawing some pretty impressive names to their events. I was interested in Dustin’s thoughts on why his promotion over others was an appropriate local liaison for Fight 2 Win.
“I can’t speak for Seth, but I feel that AGC and F2W were an ideal partnership within this region because of our ‘competitors-first’ platforms we were built around. I also think it made sense because it gave us both the opportunity for exposure in different ways.
For the AGC, it added to our level of credibility by working with a rapidly growing and respected grappling organization such as F2W. As for F2W, it allowed for them to build a relationship with a credible jiu-jitsu organization that already had a strong reputation and connections throughout this region.
It is my experience that this type of symbiotic relationship is key for almost any type of widespread growth, regardless of the industry.”
Historically, there have been no actual “proving grounds” for Fight 2 Win. A person applies and is either accepted or not depending on whether or not the promotion has a matchup for them and wants to host them on their card. By allowing the AGC to give the winners of their absolutes spots on their upcoming event, a precedent is set that could lead way to feeder events and qualifiers which could potentially increase the prestige of the F2W stage.
“The idea of the AGC hosting ‘absolute divisions’ where the winners were going to secure a spot in an upcoming F2W was a logical decision. Obviously it would bring more attention to our upcoming AGC tournaments and allow for us to get a jump start on promoting the F2W events in our region. This, too, was also another grassroots way of us trying to elevate the regional competitors and give them a platform to make a name for themselves.”
Considering his status as a tournament promoter, I thought it would be interesting to explore Dustin’s thoughts on why the F2W stage is so crucial to the growth of jiu-jitsu right now.
“I feel what makes F2W unique compared to every other professional grappling organization is that it makes the unobtainable a tangible goal. With a combination of amazing production & encouraging competitors to kick up the ‘fun factor,’ they are giving the ‘everyday competitor’ an opportunity to compete on a stage alongside their jiu-jitsu idols.
I still feel strongly that regional/local jiu-jitsu tournaments are extremely important to the individual development of competitors and the overall growth of the sport in the region. But I also feel that knowing that a F2W event is coming to your area has become the ultimate motivation for many of the regional competitors around the country.
Most jiu-jitsu competitors will never know what it is like to walk into the Octagon or compete on ‘Black Belt Sunday’ at the IBJJF Worlds… But Seth, Missy, and the rest of Team No Sleep at F2W have provided an opportunity for us to be able to compete on the same stage as a Gordon Ryan, Rafael Lovato Jr., or any number of world champions. This fact alone made it a simple decision for wanting the AGC to work with F2W!”
The next AGC event that will host an absolute division providing eligibility for F2W will take place in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, March 9th. For more information on this on other future events check out the AGC’s website.