It was a classic tale of “small beats big,” which we all know is our favorite fairy tale to tell about jiu-jitsu. Yes, smaller people can beat bigger people using great technique, but those bigger people aren’t usually ADCC or World champions who also have great technique and boast the added bonus of being able to squish you.
Then again, most of us aren’t Lachlan Giles.
Giles has long established himself as a top-level coach and competitor from his native Australia, which is why many of his fans (both Down Under and across the world) were bummed when he lost his first match in the 77kg division at ADCC. But Giles wasn’t quite done yet, and he decided to sign up for the absolute division as well. For a competitor his size, jumping into a division that is usually packed with huge grapplers may not have seemed like a wise decision, but if there was a voice in his head telling him that he shouldn’t have done it, Giles wasn’t listening.
The Aussie went in and dropped every jaw in the house by submitting Kaynan Duarte (who, you know, won the +99kg championship just hours prior) in the first round. Not content with heel hooking just one huge dude, Giles went back in round two and did the same to Patrick Gaudio. He tried his hardest to defeat Gordon Ryan with the same method, but Giles — like literally everyone else Ryan went up against over the weekend — came up short.
No matter, though. Undaunted by getting choked by a guy over 20kgs heavier than him, Giles simply moved on to the third place match and caught Mahamed Aly by the leg like a weird Australian animal trap. A few seconds later and Aly was tapping, the crowd was screaming, and Giles was a 77kg bronze medalist in the absolute division of one of the biggest grappling event in the world.
Giles’ win wasn’t just an underdog story — it was proof that technique can and will prevail if you know what you’re doing. It was proof for smaller grapplers that there is hope for them when they get lumped into higher divisions at local tournaments, and it told the world that if they haven’t been paying attention to Lachlan-freaking-Giles, they’d better start now.
We got to chat with a very excited Giles right after his win against Aly. Check out what he says not only about his matches, but also about what smaller jiu-jitsu practitioners should focus on when they face larger opponents: