There were some interesting matchups in the Las Vegas International Open black belt absolute division, and Gracie Fighter light featherweight Caio Terra taking on super heavy weight Gracie Barra Temecula’s Mikey Gomez was one of them. The eagerly anticipated match held some surprising results.
Mikey, 29, had two contests in the absolute. In his first, he went against medium heavyweight Ben Baxter of University of Jiu-Jitsu. “He seemed like he was a wrestler type,” Mikey says, “So, I pulled him into my closed guard and did this move that Bráulio Estima showed me a long time ago. I was able to climb my legs up him and get his arm. I got him in an armbar in about 20 seconds.”
His next match was against Caio Terra. Mikey says he’s never met Caio before and was excited about their impending bout. “Caio was really cool,” Mikey says, “He came up to me and shook my hand and introduced himself. Then he left and came back and said, ‘If you catch me in any submission, I’ll tap, but please don’t hurt me.’”
Mikey says he was a little taken aback by the request and didn’t know what to make of it. “I have a lot of respect for Caio and what he’s done for Jiu-Jitsu,” Mikey says, “Coming from such a high-caliber guy and world champion who’s used to competing in all the open classes, I was surprised that he would ask me something like that. All I could think of was that maybe he was hurt or maybe he was trying to psych me out, which he did subconsciously.”
Caio pulled guard at the outset. “Then we were in half-guard,” Mikey says, “I was trying to pass, and he went for a triangle. I started to posture up and he came up with me and put me in an omoplata. I was in that for like six or seven minutes. I was just holding it trying to get out without giving him the advantage points.”
With less than a minute left in the match, Mikey was certain the ref was going to give Caio the match. “He had the submission right there,” he says, “I couldn’t really move my arm in the right direction to escape. Then at one point we ended up in a weird position and he got my arm in an armbar. I tapped.” Once it was all over, Gomez took third in the open, sharing the podium spot with Kron Gracie’s Rodrigo Teixeira.
Gomez, who is an MMA fighter looking to make it into the UFC middleweight division, says, although he thought the situation was a little strange, he was ok with it because competition isn’t his life. “It’s his life, not mine,” he says, “I wasn’t gonna rough him up, but I did take it easy on him. I’m not out to hurt anyone. It’s not a fight. It’s a Jiu-Jitsu match, but it was kind of scary competing against him. I felt like I could break him in half.”
Gomez does Jiu-Jitsu for the love of the sport and owns the newly-opened Gracie Barra Temecula academy. “I just enter as many of these tournaments as I can to stay active in the sport,” he says, “With my new school having just opened and not having had the opportunity to really train the way I like to, I wanted to compete at the Las Vegas Open to start getting in shape again for my next MMA fight.”
Mikey won the super heavyweight division because the competitor he was supposed to face moved up to masters.
All in all, the tournament was a great experience for him. “I love competing with the gi,” he says, “This is such a great environment. I’m always excited to be around Jiu-Jitsu. I love training in the gi. It’s how I started out. I get to train with guys like Otavio Sousa, Kayron Gracie, Romulo Barral, Rodrigo Simoes, Marcio Feitosa, Flavio Almeida, Marco Joca, and Luciano Cristovam, who just moved here and is the head instructor at Gracie Barra Santa Monica. He’s just one more guy to kick my butt on a daily basis.”