TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

San Antonio UAEJJ Championship Preview – Who to look out for in San Antonio this Saturday





Mackenzie Dern
Sheikh Zayed Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Sheikh Zayed Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

The UAEJJ San Antonio Trials will take place this Saturday, February 2nd at St. Mary’s University in the Alamo City.

The San Antonio UAEJJ Championship will serve as a qualifying event for the prestigious 2013 World Professional Jiu Jitsu Cup (Abu Dhabi World Pro) and will provide thirteen division winners with an all-expenses paid trip to compete in Abu Dhabi at the major event this coming April. In addition to the trips to the UAE to compete in front of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the organizing group led by Sergio Correa (Marra Senki) will also be giving away $1,000’s of dollars in prize money and other prizes to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.

With so much on the line, plenty of competitors have lined up to compete this coming Saturday in San Antonio. Taking a look at some of the divisions, we see a stacked list of talent that should provide an exciting day of GI grappling. We’ll of course be there to cover the entire thing as part of our 2013 TXMMA tournament season so we thought we’d preview the event in advance of Saturday.

Let’s take a look at some of the divisions and players in further detail in this San Antonio UAEJJ Championship Preview:

 

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Adult Male Brown / Black Belt Divisions

 

Over 202 (anything over 202.1 lbs)

 

Bruno and Ricardo Bastos

Bruno and Ricardo Bastos

Starting with the big boys at Over-202, we’ve got the Bastos brothers (Bruno and Rico) from Nova União potentially leading a field that also includes recently-awarded Alliance black belt and 2012 Pan-American double gold winner Luis Rubalcava. Jason Yerrington of Marra Senki and NAGA winners Brian Mailhot and Shaun Durfee (The Academy, Maine) complete the field.

Prediction: This should be a competitive division with either Bruno Bastos or Ricardo Bastos being the early favorites to win but it should be a good test for Rubalcava as well to see where he is at this juncture of his career. Can’t sleep on the other guys as well but it will be hard-going to be past these three. I’ve got the win going to the longtime veteran Bruno Bastos.

 

-202 (183.1 thru 202.0lbs)

 

Kaue Damasceno

Kaue Damasceno

Local favorite Rodrigo Pinheiro (RPBJJ) I the most established Texas black belt here but it looks like he will have to deal with some tough competition in recently promoted Elite MMA black belt Robert Yamashita and two TOP brown belts in Bruno Bastos disciple Kaue Damasceno and Raul Jimenez (Alliance) amongst others as his toughest competition.

Prediction: I would expect Pinheiro to make the final based on experience. Aside from him, I’d favor either Yamashita or Kaue Damasceno to make the final against him with Jimenez also contending. It really just depends on how the brackets shake out with this one but in the end and the aforementioned guys are very nice wildcards but I believe Pinheiro has the best chance of taking it all.

 

-183 (163.1 thru 183.0lbs)

 

Marcus Antelante

Marcus Antelante

This should be an exciting division  with recently minted San Antonio resident Marcus Antelante (Soul Fighters) possibly leading the way with his 2012 win over Bill Cooper at the No-GI Pans fresh on my mind. He’ll be contending with an extremely solid group including 2012 ADCC NA 2nd place finisher Paul Schon and Texas-based black belt Philip Miller. The rest of the names entered include two other top brown belts in Lovato BJJ’s Shiloh Roberts and 2012 US Nationals winner Julian Vega.

Prediction: Marcus Antelante should be a favorite in this one with Schon and the other aforementioned brown belts right behind him. It really depends on who’s on and how the brackets shake out with how this one goes but it should be exciting all the way through. If they’re on opposite sides, I’ve got Antelante and Schon in the final with an outside chance of Shiloh or Julian snaking their way through. Antelante for the win.

 

-163 (143.1 thru 163.0lbs)

 

Jason Soliz

Jason Soliz

At -163, Francisco Sinitro Iturralde makes the trip down from Alliance NYC to take on the likes of Chicago’s Ramon Arellano Jr and 2010 IBJJF Euro winner Marcos Vinicius Da Silva Tinoco of DDR Jiu-Jitsu. Vitor Henrique of GFTeam will also look to contend along with Issa Able of Nova Uniao and Texas black belts Robert Dembeck (Paragon Austin) and Jason Soliz (TX 3rd Coast MMA).

Prediction: Guys like Jason Soliz and Vitor Henrique are extremely strong and capable of winning this but he final should come down to Marcos Vinicius and Sinistro although this one should be a hotly-contested division all the way through on both sides of the bracket – however they shake out.

 

 -143 (anything under 143.0lbs)

 

Gustavo Carpio

Gustavo Carpio

In the last (or at least lightest) brown/black belt division we’ve got 9 vying for the title including hometown San Antonio favorite Gustavo Carpio of Marra Senki. He’ll be joined by other locals Daniel Pinheiro and Benjamin Ross along with a score of out-of-towners including veteran Cleber Luciano and Omar French amongst others.

Prediction: This is one of those divisions where it seems like it could be anybody’s ballgame but I’m leaning towards the veteran Cleber Luciano for the win. Carpio and Pinheiro always battle it out whenever they go against each other so I would think one of them might make it to the final against Cleber if they’re on the other side but you never know. Like I said, anybody’s ballgame here.

 

Women’s Division Highlight

 

Purple/Brown/Black under 139.0lbs (Combined)

 

Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern

This is going to be a fun clash at -139 with Gracie Humaita’s Mackenzie Dern undoubtedly leading the way after her standout performance in her first IBJJF tourney as a faixa preta over in Lisbon last week for the 2013 Euro Open. She also performed exceptionally recently at Copa Podio in Rio as well so no doubt she’s on top of her game. With that being said, it’s never a walk in the park when Fabiana Borges of Gracie Barra is involved. These two are bound to clash at one point or another in this bracket – likely in the finals. The rest of the field includes Atos’ Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner making the trip down from CA along with Jena Rae Bishop and some top Texans in Sue Ausman, Kristine Felts, Tessa Simpson, Veronica Mota, and Laurah Hallock.

Prediction: Mackenzie Dern and Fabiana Borges WILL meet in the final of this one. That is the logical conclusion with Mackenzie likely going in as the favorite in this one. She’ll look to leave with a ticket to Abu Dhabi in this one as redemption for the one she missed on last year when she was upset in this same tournament by Team Lloyd Irvin’s Sijara Eubanks.

 

Purple Belt Division Highlights

 

Quite honestly out of all the divisions happening throughout the day, two stand out most as ones I want to see and they are both at purple belt. Let’s break them down below.

 

-163 (143.1 thru 163.0lbs)

 

Michael Liera Jr.

Michael Liera Jr.

In what should easily be the most stacked division of the day, some of the best feather-to-middle weight division fighters in the world will convene at St. Mary’s to sort out this highly-competitive list that rivals any I’ve seen at the Mundials. All discussion of this division has to start off with Atos’ Michael Liera Jr. who just won the San Diego trials and the golden ticket last week. He’s competing again this week along with Texas-to-California transplant and teammate Emmanuel Martinez who is also looking to go to the UAE along with everyone else. Regular national competitors like Brandon Russell (Lovato), Tyler Steppe (Marcelo Garcia), and Frank Marshall (Renzo Gracie) also appear on the roster. Challenging them will be some of Texas’ BEST at purple belt including Matt Fox and Cody Hoffstatter of Soul Fighters, not to mention Jonathan Naranjo (BJJ Revolution) and Roman Hernandez (Alliance). There are actually more top guys on the list but you guys get the general idea.

Prediction: My main prediction is that I will be camped out next to this mat until all is said and done. That much is guaranteed. Aside from that, Michael Liera Jr. remains the man to beat and he’ll look to clear out room for Martinez who, as his teammate, should be on the other side of the bracket. Who knows though… all of the names on this list are more than capable and a win here at the UAEJJ San Antonio Trials should further the storyline come Pans and Mundials this year when these guys meet again.

 

-183 (163.1 thru 183.0lbs)

 

Rehan Muttalib

Rehan Muttalib

Another awesome division is at middle-heavy where Rehan Muttalib (Alliance Los Angeles) looks to stand head and shoulders above the rest. He just scored a second place finish at the IBJJF European Open losing only to Team Lloyd Irvin’s Tim Spriggs so he’s got some momentum behind him. The Cobrinha disciple will have to contend with Bruno Bastos student Nicolas Nuila and Atos product and fellow Californian in Nisar Loynab. Representing for Texas will be a score of fighters led by Matthew Waltmon (Peak Performance) and Evan Gideon (GFTeam).

Prediction: This should be a highly-contentious division with a lot of close matches dictated by a timely sweep here or there. Rehan is a good choice as a favorite but Gideon (dropping down from the heavier division) and the other guys mentioned above could take this on any given Saturday. I’ll go with Muttalib for the win with a not-so-far-off second choice being either Evan or Waltmon.

 

-202 (183.1 thru 202.0lbs)

 

Pedro Migliano

Pedro Migliano

In the final division I want to go over, we’ve got the big boys (though not the biggest per-say) coming in with the heavy to super heavy. Like his teammate Lieira, Atos Jiu-Jitsu’s Mike Carbullido makes the trip from Southern California after winning the golden ticket to try and win another trial in this one. He’ll be joined by Gracie Elite / Rilion Gracie rep Pedro Migliano who’ll look to rematch the Guamanian after their first battle last week ended with a kimura in favor of Mike. They’ll be joined by guys like GFT / Paradigm’s Reed Shelger and Terrance Ferguson of Gracie Barra along with other Texans like Jacob Odong (SMAA), Michael Campos (Relson Gracie), etc.

Prediction: I like a rematch between Mike Carbullido and Pedro Migliano in the finals of this one provided they are on opposite ends of the bracket but Reed could certainly crash the party. There are others in the mix also like Nick Schrock of Gracie Humaita but Carbullido remains the favorite to win the whole thing.

 

Best of the Rest (Some names to watch out for)

 

Jared Dopp

Jared Dopp

Short of going through the rest of the divisions, here are some other names we’re looking forward to seeing and expecting to do well.

In the over-202 purple belt division, Jared Dopp of Lovato BJJ should be the favorite by a large amount over the rest of the field that includes Ryne Sandhagen (Alvarez BJJ), Justin McCravey (Elite MMA), and Tim Buchanan (Popovitch / Zion MMA). Likewise, Dopp will no doubt content for absolute honors in the purple belt division as well.

There are too many blue belts to list, break down, and analyze, but some of the ones to keep an eye out for (in decending weight order) include: Michael Kissi (Renzo Gracie), Tomas Moreno (Team Ferreira), Owen Francis (Atos), Cooper Cardinale (Nova Uniao), Brandon Walker (Nova Uniao), Mike Perez (Team Lloyd Irvin), Michael Esquivel II (Paragon), Robert Crosley (Alvarez BJJ), Levi Ford (Gracie Barra), Jonathan Wheeler (TPC), and Jose Aguilar (Elite MMA).

That’s all we’ve got for now. Make sure to check out the complete athlete list here and we’ll see you guys Saturday in San Antonio!






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