Professional grappling shows have taken the sport of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Submission Grappling to a new plateau, opening profitable doors to its athletes and aspiring event promoters. The grappling fight series trend has seemingly made its way to Kansas City, Missouri with the inauguration of the city's first professional grappling event "Ultimate Absolute 2018."
The Ultimate Absolute is a grappling fighting series created by the brilliant minds of Blue Corner Production and UNGD.tv. Ultimate Absolute 2018 program consisted of a three-part event featuring round-robin kids and adult tournament, and an action-packed pro show of eighteen super fights, with the winner receiving a cash prize.
The event's buzz-worthy promotion drew massive numbers; competitors from 35 grappling teams from 11 states took part in the event. From start to finish the “2018 Ultimate Absolute” was a star-studded compilation featuring some of the best grappling talents from across the country.
The show kicked off with two spectacular teen matches that featured Billie Merreighn of Bloomington JJ battling NLD's Paulie Hernandez, and Brazil Academy's Trevor Cameron going against Frankie Hoggard of Easton Castle Rock JJ. The skill, hunger, and drive to emerge victorious was put on display by each young athlete, as the platform may have revealed some future stars in our sport.
Another highlight of the night was a purple belt no-gi match between Jordan Peitzman and Justin Fabric, whose back-and-forth leg lock battle had spectators on the edge of their seats wondering who would come out on top. In addition to the many grappling talents gracing the stage, the event also caught the attention of famous faces in the MMA world looking to put their grappling skills to the test. In what many are calling the controversial contest of the night saw a barnburner match between UFC veteran Josh Neer taking on grappling ace Devin Chasten. Josh Neer doesn’t back down, neither does his opponent Devin Chasten. The match fell quickly into a stalemate, with Neer inside Chasten's guard unable to generate any pass attempts and Chasten unable to create any real offense or sweeps. Words started to get exchanged between both men, as all can see it heating up. As the match progresses, Chasten seemed to have had enough, as he unlocks his guard and stands to his feet, which was followed by Neer running him clean off the mat hard into the crowd. The place went nuts with boos, and it becomes very hostile. This happened with only 3 seconds left in the match. They started the clock; the 3 seconds ran out as Chasten motions to the crowd with his arms. The center referee brings them to the middle of the stage, awaiting the decision of the three mat side judges. They all 3 raise the hand in favor of Neer, and once again both combatants have an exchange of words. Unhappy with the decision, Chasten pulls away and goes nuts with the verdict.
Even with the contended battle between Neer and Chasten leaving everyone depleted, The Ultimate Absolute was far from over. The attention now shifted to the co-main event pitting Easton Castle Rock's Alex Huddleston against Axios JJ's John Hansen. A highly contested match both fighters left everything on the mat, as Hasen and Huddleston proved to be equally matched challengers. However, when the smoke cleared it would be Huddleston that would walk away with a split decision victory over the gamed John Hansen.
The night of action then went into the grand finale main event featuring Renato Tavares vs. Luis Flipo Ninja Pinto. The match would start off at a slow pace with each competitor being very cautious waiting for the other to make a mistake. However, as the fight progressed Tavares' half guard and bulldog top pressure proved to be the deciding factor in scoring a unanimous decision victory over the Brazil Academy instructor.
Surprising upsets, thrilling submission finishes and hyped controversy, The 2018 Ultimate Absolute was a major success drafting more than 500 in-door spectators and 78 online streaming viewers, as it was dubbed by many as "The Best Pro Grappling Show They Ever Seen." Show's fans already want more! Event promoters are currently making plans to push the "Ultimate Absolute" brand, as it aims to offer competitors and fans the unique and fun experience.
"This event was a HUGE success in terms of competitors and fans," said event Promoter Travis Conley. "'When is the next one?' That’s all I heard after the event. I want the Ultimate Absolute to continue to be something special and elite, an annual event you train and prepare for on the calendar. We want to improve it and make it better, of course. We want to increase the business and participation of local tournaments in KC so we'll be offering spots in the Ultimate Absolute to winners of those local tournaments throughout 2018. This will give competitors the incentive to compete locally, gain your position in the Ultimate Absolute 2019."
The organizers at Tap Cancer Out are holding their first West Coast fundraising tournament on Jan 17. We got a chance to ask them the important questions.
Who should go? Cancer doesn't discriminate, so why should we? In all seriousness, our tournaments are great for everyone. It's a low-pressure and well organized environment, perfect for someone testing the waters of their first tournament. We allow the higher belts to go first, since I think they've earned it. Plus, black and brown belts compete for FREE. We offer a masters division for white and blue belts, and we have a dedicated ring for all women's divisions. The morning features Gi and the afternoon is No-Gi. It really is designed to give a high quality tournament experience no matter where you are in your BJJ journey. We're a community and we welcome all. Plus, it's very affordable—$50 for one division and $70 for two and free for competitors that fundraise over $250—so it's a low risk, high reward proposition. We unfortunately don't have children's divisions yet but are looking to change that this spring.
What is Tap Cancer Out? Tap Cancer Out is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer-fighting organizations. We do this mostly through our innovative fundraising tournaments, like our upcoming Winter BJJ Open in San Diego, where competitors can fundraise to compete for free as well as earn great prizes. Since 2012 we've raised nearly $200,000 for various beneficiary organizations, including donating $100,000 to the St. Baldrick's Foundation in 2014. They'll again be our beneficiary organization in 2015.
We hosted our first tournament in 2012, not knowing what charity tournament would look like or how it would go over. But it was a huge success and people loved the opportunity to fight for more than just themselves. Our tournaments gave them the opportunity to share their stories and fight for those who are in the fight of their lives. We've hosted five tournaments in all (which is a big undertaking for a small nonprofit) and hope to host four more in 2015. We're located in the northeast, so all our tournaments have been in Connecticut and Massachusetts, but on January 17th we'll have the opportunity to bring our cause to San Diego and we couldn't be more excited. We've already exceeded $10,000 raised and will most likely raise $5,000 - $10,000 more in our final few weeks of fundraising, helping us reach our goal of $20,000!
When is the Winter Open? Our Winter BJJ Open takes place on Saturday, January 17th at the University of San Diego Recreational Sports Center. Doors and weigh-ins open at 8am and we'll start the GI divisions at 10am, the No-Gi divisions at approximately 1:30pm, and will wrap the day up around 5pm. We've finished every single one of our tournaments on time and this one will be no different. We pride ourselves in how efficiently our tournaments are run.
Where is the venue? The event specifically takes place at the University of San Diego Sports Center 102 at 5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110. There is free parking nearby. http://www.sandiego.edu/maps/#42
Why? Why have you made Tap Cancer Out? Why have tournaments? Why come to the west coast? It was back in 2010 that I came up with the idea for Tap Cancer Out. I had been training BJJ for two years at that time and realized that while the sport and community was filled with great people and growing every day, there wasn't a philanthropic presence. I also noticed that I personally wasn't doing anything to make the world a better place. I didn't really know what Tap Cancer Out would be, but I knew I wanted to start it and just figured I'd learn along the way. We met some obstacles and had some false starts, but ultimately we realized that fundraising tournaments was a way to empower the BJJ community to create change. It was the perfect way to marry their hatred for cancer with their love for BJJ, and also a way to show the world what BJJ was truly about, since it's such a misunderstood sport.
We don't have a single full-time employee at Tap Cancer Out. We have a very small team and we all have full-time jobs that pay the bills, working on TCO in our spare time. That means it's difficult for us as an organization to expand. We have 2,400 square feet of beautiful Dollamur tournament mats, but we can only conceivably use them with a 3-5 hour driving radius. We certainly don't have a team of people that could drive our mats and other equipment around the country. So we've been working diligently to find partners who could help us bring a tournament to the West Coast, where we had so many fans that were eager to take part. Luckily we hooked up with GrapplingX who are supplying the mats and found a venue at the University of San Diego. It's honestly been a dream of mine to bring a Tap Cancer Out tournament to the west coast and I can't believe it's finally going to happen. I can't wait, and I hope to see the entire west coast BJJ community there.