Professional jiu-jitsu competitions have surged in popularity in the last several years and Five Grappling is right up there putting on exciting events with many of the top names in.the BJJ world. The hard training BJJ athletes have a chance to win prize money, and the fans are treated to seeing the best of the best match up for belts.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times caught up with promoter and BJJ black belt Shawn Fowler to talk about Five Grappling’s big light heavyweight tournament on March 11.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Shawn, first off let’s tell the readers about Five Grappling. What is the origin of the event? Who are some of the top BJJ athletes who have competed in the Five Grappling events?
Shawn Fowler: Five Grappling as a company came to fruition back in 2013. There are two sectors to the corporation: The first is the Five Super League (5SL), which is dedicated to a pro jiu-jitsu format hosting a pro undercard (prelims) of BJJ Super Fights, and the Main Card that hosts an 8-man bracket defined by a weight class, ultimately resulting in a championship belt holder. The second is the Five Grappling Opens, which are large scale amateur tournaments: these opens allow kids, teens, and adults of all levels to compete and evolve their skill sets as a BJJ practitioner.
Our first Five Grappling Pro Invitational was hosted in California in November 2013 and showcased some of the best grapplers in the world. Jackson Souza, Beniel Darush, Keenan Cornelius, Tye Ruotolo, Edwin Najmi and many, many more are just a few of the names that were invited and competed at the first ever Five Grappling Pro Invitational.
We then hosted the inaugural Five Super League in San Diego at Studio 540, August 2, 2015. This, where the idea and concept was formulated going forward. At this event, an all 8-man (male) no-gi absolute and an 8-man (female) gi absolute, ultimately crowning Tim Spriggs as the Male Absolute No-Gi Champion and Mackenzie Dern as the Female Absolute Gi Champion.
The male category hosted Abraham Marte, James Puopolo, Lucas Rocha, Yuri Simoes, Joao Assis, Bruno Bastos, and a super fight with Ezra Lenon and Jeff Glover where the winner determined the 8th man for the 8-man bracket. It also hosted a Super Fight between Octavio Souza and Keenan Cornelius and the very talked-about match Garry Tonon and Joao Miyao.
The female category hosted Nyjah Easton(Rollins), Fabiana Borges, Karen Antunes, Luiza Monteiro, Leanna Dittrich, Tammi Musumeci, and Chelsea Leah.
This event shaped the template for us going forward. We took a hiatus for a year to reformulate our approach and came back with a game plan on December 3, 2016 with the launch of the Welterweights.
Five has hosted some of the biggest names in BJJ from Lovato Jr to Cooper, and Dern to Mesquita, and the list goes on and on.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: The world of professional BJJ competition has different events with different rule sets – for example, submission only and IBJJF rules. What is the format and specific rule set for the upcoming light heavyweight 8-man tournament?
Shawn Fowler: We have always prided ourselves on an exciting rule set. The 5SL has set a precedence with a 6-minute, fast-paced, sub-only format that if ending in a draw, results in a three-referee decision based on various categories. Submission attempts hold the highest value. After carefully studying statistical data provided by US Grappling, we determined that the average sub-only match ended been 8-9 mins. Breaking that down further and watching lots of footage, we realized that value actually compensated stall times during a sub-only match. So, we removed the stall time values and shortened it to six minutes This value forces a fast-paced, high-intensity match with consistent transitional submission attempts and minimal to zero stalling, as there isn’t enough time to rest.
However, there is no right answer in determining rule sets. There are a number of other organizations that have their rule sets and we highly respect them as well.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What makes for an exciting event for the fans? What is Fivegrappling’s vision for the best possible event?
Shawn Fowler: There are so many elements that make an event exciting. First and foremost, the athletes, the fans, the coaches, the venue, the aesthetics, and finally, the energy at an event, and those are just the beginning.
Our vision would be to host the most exciting matches that fans want to see and continue to bring an element to the main stage that people absolutely love to see. And lastly, to locate those athletes with all the skill sets to be at the top of the game and get them the exposure they deserve to showcase their talents.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Let’s talk about the lineup for the March 11 event. Who might be considered the early favorites to take home the Five Grappling light heavyweight belt?
Shawn Fowler: The fan favorites would have to be Leandro Lo, Tarsis Humphreys, or Joao Assis at this point. However, we can’t count out the other athletes on this card because each of them host notable wins over their careers. Lastly, the drawing and seeding of the bracket hasn’t been determined yet. That drawing will be held at weigh-ins. The seeding could eliminate one or two of the favorites right off the bat depending on how the bracket is drawn.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: How can fans view the live event? What does Five Grappling have planned for future events?
Shawn Fowler: The fans can purchase tickets at FiveGrappling.com and if they can’t make it live to the event, we can been seen live on FloGrappling.com in more than 150 countries.
The vision is clear: to host consistent pro and amateur events for the masses to compete and evolve as a BJJ practitioner.
Following the March 11th dates, our next 5SL “The Lightweights” will be held in San Diego, July 15, 2017.