I’m back in full competition swing despite not having enough time for optimal competition training. My most recent competition was the NABJJ World Championships at Long Beach. The North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation was founded by Joao and Patricia Silva as well as Sam Aschidamini. I first competed with them when they were a small local tournament about 5 years ago. Since then, they’ve grown tremendously and are relentlessly pursuing the goal of pushing BJJ as an Olympic sport. Their rule set is slightly different than IBJJF and there are no advantages to promote a clear winner of a match. The 2 day event drew some well known talent in the black belt division including EBI participant Evandro Nunes, Cobrinha student Isaac Doederlein, and Atos stand out Dany Gerard who took quadruple gold. I fought in gi and nogi and the only person I couldn’t get past was Dany… 4 times…
There wasn’t much strategy this time around. I was fitting in the 2 to 3 days of training I could and just decided I was going to show up and do my best. In addition to the garage training at Cape Fear with Sylvester and Pete, I also joined a couple open mat sessions at Ralph Gracie in Chino hills. I used to go there once a week to train with Sean Roberts, Benny Dariush, and Trumpet Dan, so it was nice to get some varied training in a familiar place. I did adjust my training at Dalton Crossfit to do more cardio and band resistance so I didn’t overload my body prior to competition.
I also adjusted my strategy to my opponents. My first match was Raymond who weighed over 300lbs. The goal was to play top game. With Evandro, a Gracie Academy standout, I expected to play top game and thought I’d be able to pass. I had fought Danny in 2013 at worlds as a brown belt and knew his half guard game would be very difficult. I was going to look for a quick takedown and work from the top. In nogi, I wasn’t as worried and focused on pushing the pace and going for the finish. Against the smaller opponents I would pull closed guard and control the pace of the match.
In the gi, I got off to a good start against Raymond. I got a takedown and was able to capitalize on my movement to avoid his rolling. I did get reversed from mount but was able to hit a quick sweep to get back on top and grind out a win on points.
Dany pulled guard and I played a strong top game. I avoided some sweeps and put him in some danger of getting his guard passed. After 8 minutes there were zero points on the board. I forgot about the overtime rules and was surprised when the ref restarted us. That lapse in concentration cost me the fight as Dany immediately set up the grips for his primary sweep and I was too late to avoid getting swept.
My Match with Evandro was probably the most exciting of the day. I got ahead early with an ankle pick. Evandro remained calm and after a restart in the center got a takedown of his own. I went for a submission and he took advantage to pass guard. He started picking up the pace of attacks and employing some of the breathing techniques I experienced when rolling with his mentor Ryron Gracie. I was able to get back to my feet and with a minute left had to make something happen to catch up. I saw an opening and jumped for a triangle. The surprise and the weight caught Evandro off guard and I was able to secure the submission for the come from behind victory.
I met Dany as my first match in the open weight, which was unfortunate bracket set up. I lossed on points which ended my gi results with a bronze medal at weight and nothing to show for the open.
The next day was nogi. I almost didn’t come because I was so sore and tired. It’s those times that it’s most important to tell your body to shut up and fight anyway. At weight, 2 of my opponents didn’t show so I went straight to the final with Dany. I got destroyed on points. A consolatory Silver Medal was my reward.
My first match in the open weight was a spazy gentleman who was pushing the pace the whole match. I stayed calm and finished him with an armbar. Raymond was my second match and I again got on top but was reversed. I was able to sweep from bottom and again grinded out a win. I came across Dany in the finals and fell behind early in the match. Dany was intent on getting the submission, he tapped everyone else he faced in nogi competition that day, but I wasn’t going down without a fight. I was able to get out of the mount and we ended the match in a 50/50 leg lock battle. Double Silver in nogi for the day.
From a medal perspective it wasn’t the worst competition I had ever had. It was disappointing not to win any of the cash prizes. Being honest with myself, I know I wasn’t as well prepared as Dany. I had some big wins for the day and was very proud of pulling of a flying triangle, armbar in true Najmistyle. One of the things I pride myself on is being dangerous all the way until the end of the fight. Dany was gracious in victory and gave me some key things to work on for the next time we meet. More than anything, it was just nice to be back on the competition circuit.
As always, my wife Mikialamode was wonderful. Dalton’s CrossFit afforded me the chance to do a less conventional type of workout to get ready for the tournament. Expect a sample workout in a future post. VVVFightco supplied me with gear. The latest fight shorts are out which I’ll be sporting at my next nogi event. A shout out to Pete and Sylvester for helping me prep. They both fought as well and showed tremendous heart. Competition is great, but competing with friends is one of the greatest experiences in BJJ.
Celebrity sighting… Buchecha!