While not a lot of submissions went on at UFC 129 last weekend (two tapouts in twelve fights – but Pablo Garza’s flying triangle was one for the ages and should count for more), the promotion did offer gentle art fans in Toronto their fair share of grappling action, with the four-man Grapplers Quest tourney featuring some first-rate competitors at the UFC Fan Expo on the Friday preceding and on the very day of the event.
The grand champion of the tournament was Ryan Hall, which should have come as little surprise to anyone keen to the Jiu-Jitsu scene, however less famous he was to the stalwart opposition he faced in the final, none other than UFC star Diego Sanchez.
Long a force figuring among the world’s best grapplers, the Felipe Costa black belt now teaching at Fifty/50 team in Arlington, Virginia, took bronze at the last ADCC and, more recently, dropped a close match at the World Pro to the eventual winner of the under-65 kg division, Jefferson “Tanquinho” Mendes.
Shortly after the final of the Fan Expo, GRACIEMAG.com editor Marcelo Dunlop caught up with the submission whiz, who graciously answered a number of questions.
On his match with UFC star Diego Sanchez:
“I remember Diego from when I was just starting Jiu-Jitsu and he was already doing great on the submission grappling circuit in the US and had beaten a bunch of really tough guys, so it was a really neat opportunity to get to compete with him. He’s competed in ADCC and put on a great show with some of the best in the world, so I knew I would have my hands full.
“I was giving up a lot of weight in this match, so I wanted to tangle him up and keep out of scrambles as much as I could. I was able to secure the 50/50 early on and caught him in a tight heel hook, but he hung tough and would’t tap when his knee popped a bit. When he was able to scramble out, I knew I had to be careful. Diego has always had a dangerous kneebar and he finished his match yesterday with it, so I was waiting on him to jump for it in the closing moments when I was up a few advantages. When Diego spun for the kneebar with about a minute left, I was ready and was able to defend and come on top for 2 then immediately pressure to the back for 4 more points. The match ended there and I was able to come away with the win, but Diego was really tough and it was definitely no cake walk.”
On what he hopes his performance at an event offering such great exposure as the UFC Fan Expo may bring him:
“I feel really fortunate to have had the opportunity to compete against two top-quality opponents in Diego and Jorge Britto. I wasn’t able to compete in the ADCC trials this year due to injuries, but I hope that putting in good performances here (against an ADCC veteran and a 2011 trials winner) and at other events will help me make a case for an invitation to the main event later this year.”
Props to the man who made it possible:
“Big thanks to Brian Cimins for giving me the opportunity to compete at the UFC Fan Expo again–it’s always a great experience.”