Combat Jiu-Jitsu Fight Night has crowned its new champion, and while none of the originally announced headliners made it to the mats (technically Gordon Ryan and Fabricio Werdum walked on them) the night itself went off as expected.
Submissions rather than EBI Rules escapes fortunately dominated the evening’s winner’s circle–Brandon Moreno did score a notable TKO over Beau Brooks–making for a more kinetic night of combat sports than the last few EBI events have been. Jon “Thor” Blank knocked Kevin Casey out of the running for the belt with an outside heel hook in less than 30 seconds, while Yuri Simoes bested Stephen Martinez via fastest escape in overtime to advance to the finals.
A standout of the card was world champ Bia Mesquita’s CJJ debut and special matchup against Kayla Patterson, which pitted two of the most powerful names in women’s jiu-jitsu against each other. Bia’s aggressive top game put Patterson’s survival skills to the test early in the fight, with Mesquita getting an early kimura grip and grinding it over three minutes while Patterson resisted and worked to free the arm from the bottom. Mesquita finally pulled out the armbar she needed for yet another W. The kimura attack and long defense did mean all four hands were tied up, limiting the amount fans could experience of Mesquita’s CJJ striking, but few grapplers can complain about watching a master black belt craft a victory while barely breaking a sweat.
Simoes and Blank met in the finals, Blank pulling guard first and hunting for the leg attacks which ended his semi-finals match so quickly. He found it, setting off a minute-long scap across the mats as Simoes scrambled to escape. Simoes looked about to tap, arm raised to slap the mat rather than his opponent, but managed to escape at the last moment. Strikes didn’t quite start until the five minute mark, driving the pair into a fierce leg entanglement which ended when Simoes switched from toe hold to knee bar for the tap.
Just how close was Yuri to tapping and letting Blank walk home with the belt? “Pretty close,” he admitted in his post-fight interview. Fortunately limping pimp walks and shiny belts work well together.