First and most importantly...
Buy the Pay Per View here it is worth every penny! I have heard that some folks are getting a pirated version. If you do this, lose my number. If you can't pay £15 for 2 hours of non-stop action then you need to have a word with yourself. That's less than 13p a minute. Remember it's only through us (the community... that means you Cheeto fingers) paying for tickets and content that shows that this can run. If you want more... and I do, Pony up you douche.
A wee disclaimer
I could never be a sports journalist. If I am watching the action I can't take notes and if I am taking notes I can't watch the action. So really all that I can write about are the moments that stick with me. Luckily for me Polaris Pro 3 had a few of these. So this is not a play by play review but just an overall consideration of the event and some of the action in it.
A few of the Combat Academy team and I headed from Hereford down to Poole, which, for the record, is not Liverpool as one of the team found out as we were driving! On the way there was the usual chat about Jiu Jitsu and BJJ lifestyle. I love these car journeys because you begin to understand your team mates more. There is a genuine closeness that you get from training together but often it is not balanced with any knowledge of the person... Probably another blog post there to be honest.
Venue and Seating
The venue was easy to find. The carpark was HORRIBLE to drive around but it was right next to the venue and although we were totally unsure of whether our parking ticket covered our stay it was not expensive.
When we did get inside we realised we had awesome seats. We were in the bleacher style Choir Stalls right on top of the mats. Seriously we could not have had better seats, however we could only see the back of the big screen, which was a shame as we could not see any of the interstitials or live footage... was their live footage... I presume there was. Still good seats and great venue.
Watch the Prelims FOR FREE here: https://youtu.be/EpoLdtUyHTM
It was great to see some folks who I have seen on the UK competition scene over the last year. The first fight with Alain Pozo and Micah Aitkenson was won by Alain via heel hook and that kinda set the tone for the entire show, leg spaghetti. The downside of all this leggy stuff seemed to be a bit of difficulty imposing wins. The fights were exciting but genuinely difficult to win as there were long of periods of one fighter trying to untangle themselves. Now, if you were on top of the action like we were you will have seen how close some of the submission attempts were but I'll admit if you were at the back of the hall you might have needed that big screen.
That said the Keith McKenzie and Jeff Lawson fight in particular was full of action. I was a bit sad to see Jeff lose as I had watched him battle through to take third in the Europeans after breaking his finger in the first round. I shook his hand at the Euros simply because he embodied the best spirit of BJJ by just fighting on. At Polaris he was similarly gutsy and only lost in the final seconds.
The prelims were not without drama either. The final fight in with Ben Dyson vs Travis Newaza saw a what sounded like, from where we were, a verbal tap reversed. Ben Dyson hit his head as Travis applied a beast of a toe hold and the referee imposed an injury time out. While Ben went on to win, I had the winner as Travis in that one. One to argue over in your own time I suppose.
Fortune Favours the Bold
The main card was pure drama all the way. From Joao Miyao and Gezary Matuda's constant attacking to Gianni Grippo's technical grip work it was all fascinating stuff and, courtesy of our great seats it felt like we were right on the mats.
Interestingly it seemed there were two camps. Which is almost mirrored in the Jiu Jitsu competition scene at the moment. On one side you have a more traditional approach that says that you should defend first and foremost and on the other you have a newer school that says that you should always be looking for the submission. It's a wide ranging debate but it means that we have Sport Jiu Jitsu with a points system that rewards control positions and a growing Submission Only scene.
This, I think lead to the sheer number of draws because in most of the fights we had high level fighters, one person attacking and the other consistently defending. Now if you are both near the top of your game this should even out because only of you is risking defeat (the attacker). Still it lead to compelling watching none the less, not dissimilar to watching someone try to open an oyster with their bare hands.
However it was really the last two fights that coloured the whole evening. AJ Agazarm vs Jake Shields was a sher show stopper with both fighters being aggressive from the start and engaging in a fair amount of foul play. Whatever you thought of either fighter beforehand the fight itself, when it wasn't being stopped for slapping, was very entertaining with plenty of back and forth.
If you look at this fight in particular, objectively you have to say that Submission Grappling needs antagonistic fighters because we need to stay emotionally engaged. I am pretty sure AJ knows this and is happy with his place in the ecosystem because, as long as he keeps antagonising opponents, he is going to keep getting offered fights because that is what he brings. He's exciting and annoying in equal measure and he has the ability to make a traditional villain, like Jake Shields look like a hero. If you don't get that this is part of AJ's strategy you probably believe in rivalries in WWE.
Finally the Main Event where Garry Tonon was to take on Rousimar ‘Toquinho’ Palhares. This was the fight where we all felt that someone might be going home with a leg. Again we had a villain in Palhares and a hero in Tonon. When Palhares took off his top I think most people pretty much felt like he was just going to snap Garry in half. But where the previous fight was ill tempered this one was just full of action. For every technical attack Tonon put on Palhares had an equal and often dramatic defence. Garry was in the air and on the ground and it was, at times, like watching a wolf fight a bear. High drama indeed and at the end no one felt short changed. It was pure theatre and the kind of fight that needed to be a draw so that we got the full 15 minutes of action.
What a time to be part of Jiu Jitsu. It's vibrant growing in student numbers and expanding in techniques. Submission Only events are definitely an important part of the scene and in Polaris the UK has an event that can compete on the world stage alongside Eddie Bravo's EBI (http://www.eddiebravoinvitational.com/). It is exciting, well run and worth. every. penny. I can't wait to see more.
Again... Go buy it if you have not already. https://www.polarisprolive.com/