To gi, or not to gi?
That was the question on April 1 a the second installment of the new California-based submission-only promotion. In all, 23 purple belt and black belt athletes showed up to compete 2 Gi Or Not 2 Gi II for thousands of dollars in cash prizes.
Put on by Grapple TV’s Kenny Jewel and hosted by New Breed Mixed Martial Arts; Fitness in Santa Fe Springs, the event featured a 14-person double-elimination purple belt men’s division, a 4-person round-robin black belt men’s division, and a 5-person round-robin black belt women’s division.
As the name suggests, each match could be either in the gi, or no-gi… or both. A flip of the coin determined what the match would start in. Of course, submission reigns supreme. However, with no time limit and divisions full of tough, equally-matched athletes, to avoid a long day of marathons, the first to 13 points would also be declared the winner.
Oh, and there’s another twist. In the case of stalling or no points scored after a long period of time, the referee could decide to make the competitors switch to the other style - to gi if it started no-gi, and to no-gi if it started gi. This format created a very interesting day of jiu-jitsu, with a solid mix of lightning fast submissions, several longer endurance-testing battles, and a few insane marathons.
The purple belt bracket was the first to start, and the last to end. With a double-elimination format, every competitor was guaranteed at least two matches. David Fraser, from Gracie Barra Northridge, came out on top - and $1,500 richer - after four fights in the main bracket. The 19-year- old athlete had both the quickest submission of the purple belt bracket, as well as the longest match of the entire event. Interestingly, all of his matches were no-gi…
Going home with a cash prize and without sweaty gi funk? Double win.
He won his first match with a 59-second foot lock, his second by points after a nearly 57 minute war with Checkmat’s Matheus Luna, his third by points after 22:30 minutes, and his final match with a foot lock at 4:40 minutes.
Fraser’s teammate, Pedro Serrano, came away $200 richer with his second-place win, as well as Paragon athlete Javi Cardenas with his consolation bracket win. Although Checkmat’s Luna didn’t take any prize money home, he definitely earned some recognition last weekend, having spent a combined two hours and 12 minutes on the mat (in just four matches).
BLACK BELT - MALE
A last-minute addition to the 2 Gi Or Not 2 Gi event, the black belt male division nevertheless attracted four exciting black belts, who fought in a round-robin style division for a $400 cash prize. The four competitors included: Gracie South Bay’s Yago Espindola, BJJ Revolution’s Dom Hoskins, Millenia MMA’s Stephen Martinez, and Victory MMA’s Geoff Real.
After three matches - all in the gi - Espindola came out on top, with win by points against Hoskins in the first match, by bow-and- arrow in the second match against Martinez, and by points in the third match against Real.
BLACK BELT - FEMALE
The main event was the black belt female division, which offered some of the most exciting matches of the day. Five top-level female athletes compete in round-robin style for the chance at a $2,000 cash prize. Each athlete had the opportunity to fight each other, with two points awarded for a submission win, one point for a win by points, and the winner determined by who earned the most points.
The women’s division included: Alliance’s Talita Alencar, Atos’ Chelsea Bainbridge, Chris Engle BJJ’s Mylene Ramos, Gracie South Bay’s Ana Carolina Schmitt, and Gracie Barra’s Tassia Pimenta.
After three fights each - all won by submission - Alencar and Bainbridge were neck-and- neck coming into the finals. Alencar won her first match by kneebar against Pimenta, her second by rear naked choke against Ramos, and her third by toe-hold against Schmitt. Bainbridge won her first by kneebar against Schmitt, her second by armbar against Ramos, and her third with a 27 second toe-hold against Pimenta (the fastest submission of the event). Alencar had only slightly more mat time going into the finals, with an accumulated 28:51 minutes versus Bainbridge’s 22:19 minutes.
In an exciting 10:25 minutes match, Alencar gradually racked up 11 points on Bainbridge - forcing the Atos black belt to scramble for a submission attempt - before taking her back and securing a bow-and- arrow choke for the win.
Initially planned to feature just two women’s divisions - both black belt and brown belt - unfortunate last minute pull-outs in the brown belt division forced promoter Kenny Jewel to switch it out for a purple belt men’s division.
While the event received some mixed reviews - some thought the no-time- limit aspect promoted too much stalling - most were positive. Athletes used to short time limits were able to test both their physical and mental endurance.
However, with generous cash prizes, an undeniably interesting submission-only ruleset, and no shortage of exciting matches, the 2 Gi Or Not 2 Gi was certainly a success.