A few weeks ago, I competed in the Grappling Games in Oak Lawn, IL. I had originally signed up for the wrong division, Masters, which was for 30+ year olds. I’m 29, so I asked them if I could switch to the 18+ division (Adult). They said yeah, but asked if I wouldn’t mind doing both, because there were only 3 guys including me for the 30+ division. I said, “Sure, why not?” That was both a good and bad decision. I ended up having to fight 7 people that day at 185 lbs.
Everyone in this weight class was either tall and lanky and awkward, or a super jacked beast. Luckily, I only have video evidence of the 30+ division, which I won. And, if we’re being technical, I cheated because I was not 30+. It was basically all downhill from there.
Match 1 (Masters Gi): Win by Gi Choke. My nerves were going crazy before the fight. I don’t know what to compare the feeling to, but maybe similar to acting in a school play in front of everybody and you don’t have your lines completely memorized. I maintained control the whole time and used my speed to get an advantage and top position early on. After that, I kept looking for submission attempts, like a shitty Kimura that I’ve only pulled off once before in training. I seized the opportunity and grabbed his collar when he was in Turtle position to finish the Gi Choke while sitting on his back. We drilled this in practice once and I remembered not liking being in that situation.
Match 2 (Masters Gi): Win by Triangle Choke. The guy had a strong guard and I struggled for most of the match to break it. He finally made a mistake and I was able to pass the guard. I ended up in a kind of awkward top mounted position and threw in my right leg under his head. He rolled me, but I was fine with it because I was able to lock my feet and then swivel out a little to lock in the triangle.
Match 3 (Adult Gi): Win by TKO. I was going against a very jacked black dude, who definitely used to be a wrestler. Every time I went for a takedown, he would sprawl out and put all his weight on my head and shoulders. He scored 2 points for getting side control on me and then 2 more points for some other good position, which I can’t remember. I was able to reverse him at some point and get a take down of my own for 2 points and then got side control as time was winding down for 2 more points. With 1 second left, we were tied 4-4 as I had slid my knee onto him for the knee-on-belly position. The ref stopped the fight because the guy had popped out his shoulder and winced in lots of pain. They gave him some time to see if he could fight the last second, but he threw in the towel. The ref told me he didn’t know who he would have given the fight to because it was so even.
Match 4 (Adult Gi): Loss by points. I got my ass handed to me 18-0 to the eventual gold medal winner. He kept getting side control on me, full mount, back control, etc. My life sucked. I was already exhausted from my 3 fights and was going against this lanky dude, who was very skilled. He had 4 stripes on his belt, which means he’s very close to being a blue belt. I did a good job avoiding submission attempts, but wasn’t smart enough or good enough to score any points of my own on this guy. 5 minutes of getting your ass kicked and defending Rear Naked Chokes is not fun.
Match 5 (Adult Gi): Loss by Straight Ankle Lock. I had to fight this guy with only a 6 minute break from my last fight. I was completely dead tired. My last two matches took a lot of energy out of me. He was a tall, lanky, awkward bastard with long hair. To start the match, he judo tripped me and I fell on my butt. He started bragging to his friends and wasn’t paying attention for a few seconds. I was about to attack him like a wild animal, but I fucking hesitated and waiting for him to pay attention again. I pulled guard and tried for an ankle lock. But, I was too slow and too nice, and he got me into a much deeper Straight Ankle Lock. He wrenched my foot so far back that I heard multiple “pops” in my foot. I tapped and he celebrated like he had won a gold medal in the olympics. Needless to say, I did not like this guy.
Match 6 (Adult No Gi): Loss by Americana. The guy I went against was pretty strong and a really old wrestler. I was in the intermediate division but probably should have done the beginner division. I felt like I was about to get a couple take downs, but he reversed me at the last second. He was dominating me in points and got side control and got the Americana. My arm was previously injured from the same move a few months before, so I tapped immediately. The ref told me after that I should have pulled guard instead of trying to wrestler him.
Match 7 (Adult No Gi): Loss by Guillotine. I started the match by going for a takedown, which worked, but I got caught in a Guillotine. I fought hard to get out of it and almost got out. But, the guy trapped both of my legs and sunk his other arm in and I literally could not move. I might have been able to last another couple seconds, but also didn’t want to get knocked out cold. This was the tightest Guillotine I’ve ever felt. Props to the gold medal winner.
Lesson of the day: train more, improve conditioning, lose some weight, and be smarter when I have no strength left.