A Look Back at Metamoris
Metamoris was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu promotion created by Ralek Gracie that held it's first event on October 14, 2012. Although shows are no longer held under it's banner there was both good and bad in the history of this promotion. With this article I will attempt to take a look back at Metamoris to see what went right and what went wrong.
I remember getting together with my Jiu Jitsu buddies to watch some of the Metamoris shows back in 2012 / 2013 like it was a UFC Pay-per-view. The promotion brought together some of grappling's biggest names to compete in 20 minute bouts that could be won only by submission. This was a big change from the IBJJF or ADCC rule sets. Under those more common environments for Jiu Jitsu, matches could be won by points scored by landing a takedown or achieving certain dominant positions as well as by submission.
Metamoris was not the first major submission only event in Jiu Jitsu. In January of 2012, Rose Gracie changed the Gracie US Nationals to be a submission only event. Supposedly to try and bring effectiveness back to Jiu Jitsu since often competitors were seen to be trying to win only by points or advantages. Bringing things back to the submission only format of matches such as Helio Gracie versus Kato from 1950 was the plan.
However having more submissions does not necessarily equate to making Jiu Jitsu more effective for self-defence purposes or Mixed Martial Arts competition. As we often see today in competitions that use the Eddie Bravo Invitational or similar rule sets there are many tactics being used that would be extremely difficult to get away with in say an MMA fight. If the change to submission only was purely about getting more submissions to make things more exciting I think it was somewhat successful, but in terms of keeping Jiu Jitsu applicable to contexts outside of grappling competitions its effects are limited. Also a case study by bishopbjj.com showed that in the 2012 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships out of the 90 matches looked at "43 resulted in submission, 43 resulted in a win by points, 3 resulted in a referee’s decision, and 1 resulted in a disqualification." So it's not like submissions were not happening al all even among the highest level competitors.
But let's get to Metamoris!
Before the first Metamoris show a press conference was held. Everyone seemed to be fairly relaxed and rivalries were not played up for show.
Then on October 14, 2012 it was time! This inaugural Metamoris event could be watched live in person or on PPV for only 19.95 USD! Six submission only Jiu Jitsu matches each with a 20 minute time limit were scheduled. If the time limit was reached without anyone getting a submission the match would be declared a draw.
To start the show we had a gi match between Caio Terra and Jeff Glover. The match itself was fun. Lots of Glover putting himself in bad positions then getting out. That is until he was submitted by an arm bar. It was a good first match to show off what sub only grappling could look like. In the second match it was Kayron Gracie versus Rafael Lovato Jr. in a gi match. A good bout that ended with Lovato picking up the kimura submission. Next up was Kron Gracie versus Otavio Sousa. This one wasn't as exciting throughout but it did end in a submission with Kron Gracie picking up the arm bar with about three minutes to go.
The fourth match was a no gi contest and featured Xande Ribeiro versus Dean Lister. The match was keep standing for almost five minutes but once things hit the floor things got interesting. With around seven minutes left Lister was put in a lot of trouble with a kimura then an arm bar but was able to expertly escape. It ended up in a draw but the back half was very exciting.
For the fifth match we had the much hyped bout between Andre Galvao and Ryron Gracie. But first, some background information! Andre Galvao is one of the most successful grapplers in the history of Jiu Jitsu competition. At ADCC 2011 he won gold in both his weight class and the absolute division. He has also won numerous world championships in the gi. Ryron Gracie was known more for being an instructor at the Gracie Academy. A video of Ryron talking about his philosophy of Jiu Jitsu a little bit can be found here. Onward to the match itself!
Galvao got a takedown early in the match and passed the guard going into north south. Gracie defended for a minute or two then recovered guard. At one point Gracie allowed himself to be mounted just so he could do a trap and roll escape and both men came to their feet. Near the end of the match Galvao began to tire and Ryron started to take the advantage, but the 20 minutes had elapsed and the match was declared a draw.
Ryron posted a video of his thoughts following the events of the match here.
Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida are two of the most winningest competitors in the history of Jiu Jitsu competition. At the time this match took place Buchecha was 22 and Roger was 31. These days Roger is retired from both Jiu Jitsu and MMA competition while Buchecha is preparing for his move into MMA. The match itself was an extremely technical battle in the gi. Just before the one minute mark Buchecha got his opponent in a straightened out armbar but Roger managed to slip out. At the end of the 20 minutes we had ourselves a draw.
In 2017 the two would meet again as part of Roger's retirement match with Roger winning by submission. Their rematch can be seen here.
So there you have it folks! The first Metamoris event! There were three submissions and three draws at the event with mostly exciting action throughout. The main negative coming out of the event was the size of the crowd inside the Viejas Arena. I'm sure it cost a lot of money to rent and according to thie wikipedia page Viejas Arena holds a little over twelve thousand people. I'm not sure what the crowd size was for Metamoris but it looked pretty empty in there.
After the excitement created by the first Metamoris, Metamoris II was set for June 9, 2013. This was where the trouble started.
Five of the six matches ended in a draw with the one submission coming from the main event with Kron Gracie submitting Shinya Aoki using a guillotine. The issue around lack of submissions was minor compared to the controversy around the match between Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu versus Brendan Schaub
Schaub at the time was an MMA fighter signed to the UFC while Cyborg was and is a top competitor in Jiu Jitsu. Throughout the 20 minutes Schaub refused to engage with Cyborg. Pushing his opponent away and disengaging whenever Abreu attempted to attack led to loud boos from the audience. Everyone was frustrated and disappointed by this match. This was an embarrassing scene for Metamoris.
However, that was not the only part of Metamoris II that left a bad taste in people's mouths. Although there were five matches that ended in a draw there actually were judges this time. In an interview with MMA site Bloody Elbow Ralek Gracie said that
they have 2 options in their decision, they can decide on a win or they can decide on a draw. And there's no points.
Additionally there were multiple injury replacements which although no one's fault was unfortunate. There was also minor controversy around Kron's submission win in that Aoki was trapped in a guillotine right beside the edge of the elevated platform the matches took place on. I'm not sure if that actually stopped Aoki from escaping the submission, but it was something people talked about.
Metamoris III would again have six matches with two ending by submission. At the event Keenan Cornelius was set to face Vinny Magalhaes. However Malgalahes was replaced by Kevin Casey on 30 minutes notice. Keenan won that match by heel hook.
Most of the talk coming out of Metamoris III was because of the headlining match of Eddie Bravo versus Royler Gracie. A rematch of their ADCC 2003 bout which Eddie won by triangle in what was a huge upset at the time.
While the performances of both men were very impressive in this match (especially since Eddie was 43 and Royler was 48) it was Eddie Bravo's night. He dominated the bout with his unique 10th Planet brand of Jiu Jitsu although he was unable to get the tap so it was declared a draw after 20 minutes of action.
Of course this is Metamoris so we needed some weirdness. After the main event Eddie gave a great speech about the roots of Jiu Jitsu. Later following the event he was confronted by Royce Gracie who was apparently upset about Eddie's love of weed or something. Fortunately Jean Jacques Machado was there to keep things from escalating.
Metamoris IV was held on August 9, 2014. As part of the event it was announced there would be a secret match with the participants not revealed to the crowd or each other until match time. Kenny Florian and Jeff Glover reprise their roles on commentary. It was another six bout card that started out with Garry Tonon getting a guillotine choke over Kit Dale three minutes and twenty seconds into the match. The second bout between Saulo Ribeiro and Rodrigo Medeiros was fought to a draw. For the third match it was Keenan Cornelius versus Vinny Magalhaes which also ended up going the distance.
Then it was time for the secret match! The first participant to be revealed was Baret Yoshida. To the delight of the crowd and Kenny Florian the second participant was revealed to be commentator Jeff Glover! After this match ended (again in a draw) it was time for the biggest news making bout of Metamoris IV.
In the fifth match Josh Barnett faved Dean Lister. A dominant performance by Barnett in which he got the submission with only twelve seconds left in the twenty minute contest. This was big news since I believe Lister had not been submitted in a grappling competition for well over a decade at that point.
For the sixth match and main event we got to see Andre Galvao versus Chael Sonnen. There was some controversy to this match taking place as Sonnen had recently tested positive for banned substances in tests done by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Fortunately for Metamoris the commission had no jurisdiction over grappling matches so the bout was able to go on!
Early on in the match Sonnen sustained a cut and the match was paused. They were eventually able to get things restarted and the match continued. Sonnen worked most of the match from the top position but Galvao eventually got to his back. From there Sonnen was able to defend for a little while, but Galvao eventually sunk in the rear naked choke.
Metamoris IV was probably the best event they ever did, but there was still some interesting matches to come!
The main event of Metamoris V was another dream rematch much like Eddie versus Royler from the third show. It would be Renzo Gracie vs Kazushi Sakuraba meeting again on November 22, 2014. There first matchup was an MMA contest in Pride FC that happened on August 27, 2000. Sakuraba won that fight by kimura, breaking Renzo's arm near the end of the second round.
Unfortunately Metamoris V contained only one submission with Garry Tonon defeating Zack Maxwell by heel hook in the first match. The big draw of course was the main event. I don't have a lot to say about the fifth Metamoris event as no drama really happened and the matches were not super interesting. Rener and Ryron Gracie's breakdown of the event is pretty cool. Lots of technical details there.
I should also mention Metamoris Challenger and the Metamoris subscription service at this point. Challenger was a tournament for amateur grapplers where the winners of each division would get a contract with Metamoris. The matches in this tournament aired on a Metamoris subscription service that also contained past events and technique videos. Long story short Challenger did not save Metamoris from its financial hole and probably caused more problems than it solved.
Moving on to Metamoris VI which did indeed feature a few competitors from Challenger. A card that ended up with eight matches and five draws in total, this was the last big Metamoris show. The main event was for the Metamoris Heavyweight Championship and was between Josh Barnett and Ryron Gracie. Ryron was a late replacement for Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu. The original match fell through due to an injury. Barnett picked up the victory a little while into the second half of the match by toehold.
This was basically the end of any good feelings anyone had towards Metamoris. The problems of them not paying people and criticisms such as them not booking women's matches keep piling up. Metamoris VII and VIII were actual events that happened but they weren't really big deals. Metamoris VII was headlined by Ralek Gracie versus Garry Tonon with Tonon winning by kneebar. The eight and final event was basically just Gordon Ryan versus Ralek Gracie with Ryan winning by reverse triangle.
I think there has been comments by Ralek saying that he wants to bring Metamoris back, but I can't see that being a smart move.
I don't want to give the impression that everything about the promotion was negative so let's list some of the good and the bad!
- High production values
- Unique big name match ups
- Led to other submission only style events that we have now
- Lack of women's matches and other controversies
- Not paying people
- G in a Gi (don't ask)
So there! Hopefully everyone in the grappling community learned something from the life and times of Metamoris. It was fun looking back at the promotion and if you read all this thank you very much!
This is my day 83 post for #100daystooffload
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