KASAI Pro's inaugural event was filled with unexpected twists and turns that only a round-robin event can provide. Here's the skinny on who came out on top and who went home with things to work on.
Renato Canuto had the performance of a lifetime last night in NYC. Not only did he pull some off some big wins against some of the best lightweight no-gi grapplers in the world, he did so in impressive fashion.
He out wrestled Garry Tonon to win on points, nearly submitted AJ Agazarm with flying attacks (twice!), and muscled out the win in overtime against the three-time world champion Celso Vinicius.
Entertaining from the opening bell to the final match of the night, Canuto made his presence known on the professional grappling circuit with aplomb.
Gordon Ryan is a man who sets high expectations for himself. He said he’d submit Yuri inside of regulation, and he was able to do so with less than 30 seconds left on the clock. Perhaps in an effort to silence the doubters who hound him online (how do they even exist anymore?), Ryan opted to avoid all leg attacks and finished with a vicious choke from the back.
Ryan seems to have just about everyone’s number these days, and there are rumblings of an even bigger superfight on the next KASAI Pro event. Stay tuned for deets.
Craig Jones is on the brink of stardom but showed that he still needs a bit more time to finesse his approach to competition. In an attempt to coast to victory late in his match with Murilo Santana, Jones was called for stalling – his second penalty point, which also gave Murilo two points – putting the Unity coach ahead and ultimately deciding the match.
Jones would have made a HUGE statement by holding back to back wins over a legend like Murilo, but a careless error sunk that ship. This was his third event in three consecutive weekends under three different rulesets. Maybe a short break would do the Aussie good.
Garry Tonon shouldn’t have gotten fourth place in this event. Considering his deadly leg locks and strong wrestling, KASAI Pro seemed tailor-made for the DDS standout. Yet something was just off about his performance last night, and it showed in the results.
Perhaps the recent news that Tonon is stepping away from jiu-jitsu to train full-time for his impending MMA debut has something to do with the lackluster showing. In any case, we’re eager to see Tonon get back to prime form.
The Referees: If there was any downside to KASAI Pro, it could be easily summarized by pointing to the officials. There was little consistency in the awarding of points, and the penalty calls were simply all over the place. Add to that the fact they seemed clueless Enrico Cocco had been put to sleep when it was plainly obvious to everybody else, and it's clear a new team of officials need to be brought in.