The 5th installment of the Arizona International Open promised to become the next premier event of the United States and, with supermatches featuring such Jiu-Jitsu greats as Robson Moura and Kron Gracie, it did not fail to deliver. The sold-out event drew 560 participants (a new record for BJJ competitions in AZ) from not just around the country, but the world. Competitors made the trip to the small town of Mesa, Arizona, in droves, making for a weekend of action-packed matches.
In the highly-anticipated middleweight match-up between Kron Gracie (Rickson Gracie) and Philipe “Furao” Della Monica (Gracie Barra), both fighters came ready to put their game plans into effect. The well-prepared Furao looked to exploit holes in Kron’s game by quickly pulling guard and working from deep-half, but a calm and collected Kron had a simpler strategy in mind: to submit Furao. And that’s exactly what he did. In 3 minutes, Kron was able to dismantle and pass Furao’s half-guard, establish an immovable mount, and quickly submit Furao with an armbar in textbook fashion.
The featured international face-off between Robson Moura (Nova Uniao) and Nobuhiko Kitahara (Axis Jiu-Jitsu) showcased why “Robinho” is widely regarded as one of the best Jiu-Jitsu players in the World. When Robson was asked about his plan of attack for the Japanese National Champion, he answered with an air of confidence that only comes after years of experience: “I’m just going to fight. I’m not focused on pulling first, but if he decides to pull guard, I’ll pass.” Robinho put that confidence to work, nullifying
Kitahara’s guard and ending the match with a collar choke from the back in less than 5 mintues.
Guybson Sa (East West) flew over from New York to defeat the 2009 AZ State Champion, Carlos Farias (Lion’s Den) by Armbar in the Ultra Heavyweight division.
Kristina Barlaan (GD Jiu-Jitsu) made a clean sweep of her competition by using her dangerous guard game and submitting her opponents to win the Female Blue Belt Featherweight division and putting in a dominant performance to win the Absolute.
The White Belt, Middleweight Division was the largest bracket of the 5th AZ Int’l Open and the victor would be the product of a hard-fought win. Jeremy Larsen (GD Jiu-Jitsu)
was able to fight his way up through the bracket to meet his teammate, Mark Garland (GD Jiu-Jitsu), in the finals. Despite the relationship, the two did not hesitate
to face each other, and Larsen found himself victorious.
Despite being Adult Division, the explosive Blue Belt Featherweight final was between two talented, up-and-coming teenagers. Isaac Doederlein
(Team Megaton) defeated Christopher Broadnax (Nova Uniao LV) in a very close, back-and- forth battle for the gold. Determined to find redemption, Christopher entered the
absolute with fire in his heart and was able to close out with his teammate Issa Able (GD Jiu-Jitsu), winner of the Middleweight Division, in the finals to claim the win.
The Purple Belt, Middleweight Division set the stage for two of the most exciting Jiu-Jitsu matches of the weekend. WEC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson (MMA Lab)
defeated Giacomo Zanini (Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu) with an aggressive double-leg takedown just seconds before the end of the middleweight final match. But it was Zanini who would
have the last laugh as he left no room for Henderson to set his pace in the absolute final, surpassing the MMA Champion 17-0.
The 5th AZ Int’l Open marked the return of undefeated (6-0) Bellator fighter Jacob McClintock to Jiu-Jitsu competition. The hot MMA prospect submitted all his opponents to win the Brown Belt, Medium-Heavyweight Division (the largest bracket at Brown), despite his 2-year hiatus from competing in the Gi.
PSP – Giovanna Jaure (Yuma BJJ)
Flip – Maria Magana (MMA Lab)
TV – Alex Richard (Tigers Lair AZ)
1st – Team Megaton 77 pts
2nd – Rey Diogo/De Brazil 59 pts
3rd – Lion’s Den 55 pts
4th – Yuma BJJ 48 pts
5th – Siege MMA/Lotus Club 45 pts
1st – Team GD Jiu-Jitsu 201 pts
2nd – MMA Lab 91 pts
3rd – Team Megaton 70 pts
4th – Rey Diogo/De Brazil 69 pts
5th – Siege MMA/Lotus Club 66 pts