By William Murphy, Ph.D. and Josh LeDuc

On Sunday September 18th the Grappling Pro Championship event featured eight of the top 170lb grapplers in the world competing in a unique point system for a $10,000 grand prize.

The event took place in Naples, Florida and featured unique rules that were aimed at easing the transition between grappling and MMA, and vice-versa.

Some of the unique aspects were the awarding of a point for pushing your opponent out of bounds, awarding two points for throwing your opponent out of bounds, and the legality of slamming your opponent from any position.

In this tournament we saw DJ Jackson dominate the tournament using superior ringsmanship and wrestling to win a $10,000 purse.

We also saw Garry Tonon aggressively chase submissions without regard for points. This may have cost Tonon the prize, but one could argue the most important technical takeaway from the tournament was Garry Tonon’s outstanding body preserving gymnastics and ukemi. Tonon used granby rolls, somersaults, and cartwheels to good effect, not only avoiding damage from slams, but also avoiding a scoring situation in many cases, while he chased submission entries.

Both Garry Tonon and Enrico Cocco elected to give the crowd a third place challenge match with no hope of a purse, showing what consummate lovers of the sport they really are, and their high commitment to provide the fans with a good show. During this match Enrico developed an impressive lead on points, but took a couple tough falls and started to slow down a little, favoring one leg. Enrico almost fell prey to a kneebar that many competitors would have tapped to, but he found a way out, mostly with heart. As Enrico progressively slowed down due to the damages sustained during the match, Garry Tonon seized this opportunity to finish him with a heel hook.

The first purpose of this tournament was to provide a generous purse for a pure grappling invitational tournament, and on that point, the tournament was a spectacular success.

The second purpose of this tournament was to provide grapplers an intermediary ruleset between sports jiu-jitsu, grappling, and MMA fighting. This tournament was a success in this regard, although there may be room in the future for improvements or modifications.

For example, the question was raised whether the matches would be better off being held in a cage or not. Having a female paid division is always something that many of us in the sport try to encourage and support. Since some of the competitors were thrown off the mats on a number of occasions, Professor Marcel has stated that adding an additional layer of mats is a top priority. And Professor Marcel has also stated that he is interested in adding paid female divisions in future events.

In the first match, DJ Jackson won against Corey Brown 24-0.

Hunter Ewald made a brave attempt against Garry Tonon, despite sustaining an injury. After 4:21 seconds, on the advice of his coaches, he withdrew, ceding the win to Mr. Tonon.

Enrico Cocco submitted Anderson Melo via Heel Hook at 3:29.

Lucas Barbosa submitted Dustin Neace via Rear Naked Choke at the 3:00.

DJ Jackson then went on to defeat Garry Tonon by 8-2 after three rounds of five minutes each.

Lucas Barbosa defeated Enrico Cocco by a 6-1 lead.

DJ Jackson defeated a Lucas Barbosa by a 6 to 5 lead.

Congratulations to Marcel Goncalves and Ross Kellin on a great event, and thank you for the advancement of the sport!

This tournament could not have occurred with the generous sponsorship of Acai Masters, Bug Free Services, Family Foot and Leg Center, Copa America Tournaments, ESP Waste Disposal Service, Dry Titan, HBKS Wealth Advisors, Montesano Spine & Sport, and the YMCA of Naples.