Hello, again, dear readers! Kevin Bradley is back once again with the latest and greatest news from the world of combat sports. Every seven days, we all gather around for another exciting edition of this, the Aces BJJ News Roundup!
Lots to unpack this time out. We had an insane UFC interim title fight mired in controversy, the retirement of a legend, and a dynamic cross-continental throwdown at Polaris Squads. It was a stacked week, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it!
USA Dominates Polaris Squads
The continental rivalry continued this past weekend with the third iteration of Polaris Squads. The matches were tense from pillar to post, featuring the best American, Irish, and English grapplers. However, only three matches produced a winner due to a ruleset that generated many draws for the night. And despite coming away with the W, a few close calls almost put the state crew on ice.
SGB Black Belt Kieran Davern faced 10th Planet’s Nathan Orchard in the first half, leading to the first submission finish of the event. Davern pulled guard and tried to attack Orchard’s leg, only to have his leg threatened in return. Both repeated the back and forth until Orchard found his way to the back before securing himself with a body triangle. Davern tried to escape, but a ruthless neck crank from Orchard forced a tap from the Irishman.
Roberto Jimenez gave America its next win in a lightning-quick fashion. Facing Bradley Hill, Jimenez gained top position off of an early scramble and moved to the back. Securing both hooks and one of Hill’s arms, Jimenez locked in the choke and got the tap in under a minute.
The match that secured Team USA’s victory came when Geo “Freakazoid” Martinez faced Roger Gracie’s black belt, Dan Strauss. Sitting to guard after evading a leg entry from Martinez, Strauss used his legs to make space on his passing opponent. Going in heavy for a pass, Martinez tried to isolate one of Strauss’ arms. At that moment, a yelping Strauss tapped to end the fight while gripping his left pectoral muscle. After the fight, Strauss would confirm his injury in an Instagram post days later.
“Unfortunately, scans confirm that I have indeed detached my pec tendon.” Strauss wrote. “I will be having surgery next Wednesday to have it reattached.”
With that, Team USA took the event with seven points to zero.
On the super fight side of the show, Kyle Boehm took on Silviu Nastasa for the heavyweight strap. Pulling guard and hunting the leg lock right off the bat, Boehm found the heel hook after briefly standing then pulling again. Turning belly down, Nastasa gave up the tap, and Boehm was awarded the heavyweight title in just over half a minute.
A stunning showing for American Grappling; hopefully, we get to see more great lineups at Polaris Squads 4!
Gane TKO’s Lewis, Awarded Interim Title
With interim title fights, questions of need and legitimacy always arise. Many complained that the new belt was a sham when it was announced that Derrick Lewis would face Ciryl Gane for the interim Heavyweight title despite the fanfare around newly crowned champ Francis Ngannou. But with the fight we ended up getting, I think we can let bygones be bygones.
Taking to the cage at UFC 265 this past Saturday, Gane put on an absolute showcase on the fan-favorite Lewis. Outstriking him by leagues and landing a brutal 80% of significant shots, the French Muay Thai export looked the better fighter in all aspects of the three-round bout. Gane utilized every inch of his 6’4 frame to keep Lewis on the perimeter with body kicks and jabs, only closing up to deliver a combo or two. Boxed in before he could get started, The Black Beast only put out 37 strikes, landing less than half on Gane.
In round three, Gane went in for the kill. Stapling Lewis to the cage, Gane let fly with a head kick that seemed to wobble him. But Lewis responded with a right hook, hoping for the big shot that’s gotten him out of terrible situations before. Gane stood and returned fire with a left and then a right that forced Lewis to his knee to turtled up and defend. Then Gane went for the top position and rained down hammer strikes until the ref soon called the fight at 4:11 in round three. Gane was awarded the interim Heavyweight belt, a remarkable three years into his MMA career, bringing his record to 10-0 and Lewis to a 25-8.
It was a disappointment to the Houston crowd but an interesting situation for the Heavyweight division. Think this fight warranted a title? Should Stipe still get the first crack at Francis? Let us know!
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has been one of the most “Yea, the card sucks, but you gotta catch their fight at least” competitors in both MMA and submission grappling for decades. And now, unfortunately, half of that career appears to be complete. In a report by Combate, the 41-year-old will be stepping away from MMA competition following the recent completion of his UFC contract. With his last fight at UFC 262 resulting in a viral submission finish by Andre Minuz, Souza suffered a broken arm and extended his skid to four consecutive losses.
First fighting for the UFC in 2013, the multiple-time IBJJF champ and ADCC Superfight winner started strong with a five-fight winning streak. Before that, he was a massive draw in both DREAM and Strikeforce, with wins over Tim Kennedy and Robbie Lawler and veritable Mt. Rushmore of MMA royalty over his 26 professional wins.
He was just as prolific in grappling, winning his ADCC Superfight against Robert Drysdale in 2009 and Dominating IBJJF competition from 2004-2005. A true generational talent, we can only hope he enjoys this second act and maybe does a Submission Underground or two just to stay fresh. Thanks for the memories, Jacare!
That’s all for this week. Tune in next time for my announced transition from BJJ to Chess Boxing!
Aces BJJ Blog staff writer and BJJ Blue belt under Edward “Scissor Hands” Berberich of Soulcraft BJJ. Kevin has been training BJJ for four years and complaining about Star Wars for over 20. Follow him on Instagram @kbrads_bjj