This weekend sees the return of Chael Sonnen‘s grappling promotion, Submission Underground, for its third instalment with a stacked card of elite submission grapplers and MMA stars.
Fresh off the heels of their second event, that featured Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson and Miesha Tate vs. Jessica Eye, Submission Underground matchmakers have gone a different route to the previous show, spreading the talent throughout the main card as opposed the last event, which was top heavy with big MMA names. This time around there is a good spread of big names from both MMA and the Jiu Jitsu scene throughout.
At the top of the card is a match between Marcelo Garcia black belt and Conor McGregor associate, Dillon Danis and Gracie Barra standout (and everyone’s favourite Jiu Jitsu heel), AJ Agazarm.
Danis is coming into this match fresh off a Pan American No-Gi title in 2016 and has previously won the No-Gi world’s at brown belt back in 2014. Being a Marcelo Garcia black belt brings its own pressure within the grappling community, and when you also start making noises about beating everyone on the UFC roster, you’re only going to invite even more pressure on to your shoulders. But Danis is a confident young man, with an exciting style of Jiu Jitsu, and with one of the most talented teams in the world at his disposal to get him ready for this match, expect him to come in fully prepared for this match.
Agazarm is no slouch himself and whilst he divides opinion in the grappling world due to his antics in matches against Daniel Strauss and Jake Shields, there’s no denying he’s one of the elite competitors on the scene currently and is a former No-Gi world champion himself at black belt. Agazarm has an accomplished wrestling game to go alongside his Jiu Jitsu, so expect to see plenty of double and single legs throughout the match and with the match being held within a cage, that could prove to be a huge advantage.
Garry Tonon faces Hector Lombard on this card in a truly fascinating match up of styles. Tonon is a phenomenal leg-locker who has gone toe-to-toe with the best submission grapplers on the planet, usually coming away with the win. Tonon is giving away a serious size and weight advantage in this match but having won the light-heavyweight tournament at EBI 9, the size difference won’t faze him. With used his team mate, Travis Stevens (an Olympic medalist at Judo) assisting in his preparation, Tonon be hoping it’s enough to prepare him for Lombard’s high level takedown game.
As mentioned above, Lombard is a former elite level Judoka and as well as that, a former Bellator MMA Champion. Whilst he is increasingly known more for his devastating knockouts than his submissions during his MMA career, Lombard has been grappling a lot longer than Tonon, so will no doubt have a trick or two up his sleeve. Don’t be surprised to see Lombard come out all guns blazing and look to get the takedown early in a bid to use his size advantage and Judo pressure to wear his opponent down while looking for a submission – though that’ll be easier said than done.
In a battle of the heavyweights, two-time ADCC Champion, MMA veteran and former World No-Gi Champion, Jeff Monson gets the opportunity to go head-to-head with one of the brightest talents in Jiu Jitsu in Gordon Ryan in a battle of youth versus experience.
Monson has a decorated resume in combat sports and is known for his wrestle heavy style of grappling which wears fighters down over the course of a match, allowing him to work his submissions on a usually exhausted opponent. Monson isn’t known to be the most exciting grappler on the circuit, but he’s certainly one of the most experienced and was a formidable opponent in his prime, although at 46 years of age, it’s safe to say that his prime has long since passed.
Ryan however, is at the peak of his powers. The 21-year-old is a Jiu Jitsu prodigy and, under the guidance of John Danaher and Garry Tonon, has managed to become one of the foremost submission grapplers in the world, dubbing himself ‘The King’. Just to reinforce this persona to the grappling community, Ryan wears a crown when appearing at events.
Although Ryan is coming in to this match fresh off a win at Sapateiro 6 this past weekend, the Danaher Death Squad prodigy hasn’t had it all his own way this last 12 months. Succumbing to a rear-naked choke to Felipe Pena at the tail end of 2016 was a blow to the previous invincible aura, and with talk of him battling a mystery illness, a match with Monson just a week after a 16 man tournament may not have been his wisest decision.
The curtain jerker on the main card pits former UFC featherweight contender Chad Mendes against arguably the biggest showman in Jiu Jitsu, Jeff Glover. This is a clash of styles if ever there was one, with Glover being an eccentric grappler famous for his ‘Donkey Guard’ and flashy submission attacks that quite often leave the fans watching breathless. Glover attacks from all angles and it’s easy to find yourself distracted by his antics before he pops up with a lightening quick submission.
Mendes on the other hand, is an all business, no fuss wrestler who was a NCAA All American twice before making the transition to MMA. Mendes trains at Team Alpha Male with the likes of Urijah Faber and Cody Garbrandt and, just like the rest of the team there, has an exquisite guillotine choke that he’ll be hoping to land as soon as he’s in sight of Glover’s neck.
Submission Underground 3 Main Card:
Dillon Danis vs. AJ Agazarm
Garry Tonon vs. Hector Lombard
Chad Mendes vs. Jeff Glover
Gordon Ryan vs. Jeff Monson
Andrew Alexander vs. Joe Baize