The Abu Dhabi King of Mats Los Angeles will bring together 10 top heavyweight black belts with the overall winner challenging reigning champion Alexander Trans for the heavyweight title.
Every KOM competitor must be invited, and all are accomplished champions in UAEJJF tournaments. Participants must be World Pro or Grand Slam champions or top-ranked athletes.
The 10 competitors are divided into two groups of five and will compete in a round robin. The top two athletes from each pool progress to the semi-finals, with the winner of Group A fighting the runner-up from Group B and the winner of Group B fighting the runner-up from Group A. The losers of the semifinals will contest for third place.
Here are the 10 athletes invited to compete. Scroll to the bottom for the group listings.
Sunday, Sept 23 | Los Angeles | 3pm PST
Esquadrao de Jiu-Jitsu | Brazil
One of the most exciting fighters of his generation, Erberth Santos has already conquered the UAEJJF World Pro along with the IBJJF Worlds, Pans, Euros and Brasileiro in a short black belt career. After an extremely impressive 2016 rookie campaign Erberth won nearly everything in 2017 as a second year black belt. 2018 has been a year of ups and down for Erberth however, but he did look dominant at the 2018 World Pro when he submitted five out of six opponents to take gold.
Erberth has only done two tournaments and a superfight since the World Pro in April, an usually low amount for typically one of the most active competitors in the game. The lighter workload has presumably given Erberth time to regroup and perhaps improve on his inconsistent performances so far in 2018.
The big question is will the Abu Dhabi King of Mats see the Erberth that has defeated legends such as Andre Galvao, Romulo Barral, Bernardo Faria and Felipe Pena or the Erberth that was tapped by Tommy Langaker, Renato Cardoso, Adam Wardzinski and Matheus Spirandeli?
Gracie Barra | Brazil
Typically a middleweight, two-time World Pro champ Gabriel Arges will be the lightest competitor in the King of Mats field. Also a two-time champion at the IBJJF Worlds, Arges joins Santos as the most accomplished competitor at the highest levels of jiu jitsu registered for King of Mats.
Gabriel was last in action at the 2018 IBJJF Worlds in June, where a disqualification in the quarterfinals stopped short his quest of winning a third straight World title. Arges will no doubt be looking for redemption at King of Mats, and an it should be interesting to see how an elite middleweight holds up having potentially four to six matches against competitor’s heavyweight and up.
GF Team | Brazil
Purple and brown belt World champion Gutemberg Pereira stormed onto the black belt scene at the 2018 Pans, taking silver to Leandro Lo in the open class. Along the way Gutemberg defeated 2018 World champ.
Gutemberg has since won the UAEJJF Tokyo Grand Slam and made it clear he intends to pursue the UAEJJF end of season prize money for 2018-19. He was also a World Pro and Grand Slam champion at the brown belt level.
Brasa CTA | Brazil
Another new black belt in 2018, Rudson Mateus has taken third at Worlds and Pans along with Brasileiro gold in his rookie year. Earlier in his career Rudson won Worlds at blue, purple and the double gold at brown. Winning the Tokyo Grand Slam at 85 kg this year qualified Rudson for King of Mats.
A closed guard specialist, Rudson utilizes a series of simple armlocks, back takes and sweeps to mount against the best competitors in the world with great success. One of the smaller competitors in the field at 85 kg, Rudson has however had much success in open classes over the years.
Checkmat | Brazil
Heavyweight Jackson Sousa has medaled at every major IBJJF tournament since receiving his black belt in 2013, including a World silver medal in 2016. Last season Jackson won the London Grand Slam by submitting two out of his three opponents.
Jackson’s dynamic stand-up game makes him dangerous in matches of six minutes where he can score early, but as a heavyweight he is not the biggest of men in the group.
Commando Group | Brazil
The 2016 World Pro champion, Ricardo Evangelista is also a three-time Grand Slam champion and Worlds runner-up. The massive Evangelista will be one of the larger competitors in the field. He holds victories over Erberth Santos from earlier in his career, but Erberth won their last meeting at the World Pro Brazil qualifier in dominant fashion.
Checkmat | Poland
Adam Wardzinski has been a staple of the UAEJJF scene since receiving his black belt. In the 2017-18 season Wardzinski finished second in the overall ranking and won the award for top ranked European. Already a World Pro runner-up as well as runner-up at several Grand Slams, Adam has so far fallen just short of winning a UAEJJF event. Los Angeles could be the occasion that the butterfly guard specialist finally gets over the hump and makes it to the top of the podium.
Soul Fighters | USA
Tanner Rice is the only competitor for the Los Angeles King of Mats that also competed in the inaugural King of Mats at the World Pro in Abu Dhabi. Tanner performed well in the 100 kg division at that tournament, taking second to eventual champ Alexander Trans in the group stage before losing a ref decision to Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu in the semifinals. Rice qualified with a gold medal at the 2015 Los Angeles Grand Slam, and is a two-time Pans silver medalist.
Ceconi Team | Brazil
Ceconi qualifies for the King of Mats with a World Pro championship from all the way back in 2010. Ceconi has however seen success relatively recently, including a gold medal from the 2016 Worlds. Ceconi has not been as active as some of the much younger competitors in King of Mats but should still be a tough fight for anyone.
NS Brotherhood | Poland
From Poland but training out of Sao Paulo with Leandro Lo at NS Brotherhood, Labinski is another first year black belt in the field. A win at eh 2017 Rio Grand Slam qualifies Labinski for King of Mats. Labinski was initially scheduled to compete at the Abu Dhabi King of Mats before having to withdraw the week of the event.
ABU DHABI KING OF MATS – LOS ANGELES
|GROUP A||GROUP B|
|Ricardo Evangelista||Erberth Santos|
|Tanner Rice||Gerard Labinski|
|Gabriel Arges||Jackson Sousa|
|Adam Wardzinski||Alexandro Ceconi|
|Gutemberg Pereira||Rudson Mateus|