by Vitor Freitas
The promoters of a new event in Brazil are looking to rattle the foundations of the sport. With Rickson Gracie as the presenter, the maiden Mestre do Combate [Master of Combat] event will be held next November 22 at Vivo Rio arena, a classic concert hall on Rio de Janeiro City’s picturesque Flamengo beachfront.
With no card yet officially announced, the tournament format is quite innovative. Firstly, the weigh-ins will be held the night of the fight, a measure meant to keep the fighters performing at their legitimate weight, as well as to protect the athletes’ health. During the fight, nobody will be saved by the bell or win by points: for the ref to raise their arm, the fighters have to get the knockout, tapout or get the opponent to give up. Should the fight go the full two rounds – the first lasts 10 minutes; the second, five – the decision will be left to the audience.
That’s right, the audience watching from home or in the arena gets a vote, the referee gets a vote, and Master Rickson Gracie’s vote counts as a tie-breaker in the event of a draw.
“We want to create a new paradigm and recover the martial arts values that were lost over time. Today fighting means blood and money. We want to value winning spirit and strategy,” says Rickson, the technical and sporting director for the Mestre do Combate promotion.
The weight divisions go from heaviest (over-93 kg) to lightest (under-70 kg), and the athletes will be split into teams. Each event will feature a showdown between teams, with the winning team achieving at least three victories out of five fights. The winning team goes through to the next event.
According to the organizers, BRL 700,000 will be paid out to the fighters in the form of purses and bonuses over the course of the 2012/2013 season. The athletes will also vie for the title of “Best Fighter of the Night”. The Mestre do Combate calendar comprises nine events, seven of which already have a date and location.