When Tom DeBlass went up against Joao Assis during the main event of Fight to Win Pro 43 in New Jersey, he wasn’t alone in thinking he’d win. He wanted that heavyweight title with everything in him, and he trained like it. The hometown hero, he had countless people cheering for him both at the event and watching the stream online.
And yet, he lost.
It was a split decision at the end of an absolutely brutal match. Neither DeBlass nor Assis could submit the other, but by the time the clock had run out, two of the three judges had decided that Assis’ leglock attempts had made him the more aggressive opponent. In an event like Fight to Win where submissions are king and points don’t exist, those attempts at finishes were ultimately enough to allow Assis to continue his reign as the champ.
Controversial finishes — especially split decisions — have a tendency to bring out the uglier, more bitter side of even our favorite athletes. But DeBlass was pure class in his post-event posts on social media.
While it’s obvious that DeBlass would’ve preferred a win, he’s not letting defeat…well, defeat him. “The only thing I’m bummed about regarding my match with Joao is I wasn’t able to submit him,” he says, adding that he doesn’t place the blame of his loss on the judges. “We need to understand in matches such as Fight to Win with no point system, it’s not easy for judges. I feel 95% of the time they do great; however, instead of relying on them to give us the decision, we should focus more on having great jiu-jitsu.”
DeBlass is one of many top-level athletes slated to compete at ADCC in September. Fight to Win 43 may be over for him, but he’s got so much to look forward to that he’s got no time to waste by looking back.