Tom DeBlass's Biggest Problem

Accomplished, influential and charismatic, Tom DeBlass is one of the best-liked figures in American jiu-jitsu, with fans from white to black belt. But he’s got a problem, and it’s not an easy one to fix. 

Since winning the ADCC Trials in late 2016, Tom DeBlass is running a 50% win rate. And because of some deeply ingrained traits, that’s not likely to change in the near future. 

When the three-time ADCC veteran (who qualified each time by fighting his way through the North American Trials) goes to compete his own personal code of honor simply won’t allow him to squeeze out a win. If the victory was not hard-earned, then in DeBlass’s world it wasn’t worth fighting for. 

Anybody who has met Tom or read any of his social media posts knows that he is a man of principles. And one of those core principles is that he feels he has a responsibility to himself, his fans, and jiu-jitsu as a whole to go out there and put it on the line. 

The win-loss record of an athlete doesn’t always tell the full story. If a perfect record was all that mattered, then people like Dillon Danis and AJ Agazarm wouldn’t get a fraction of the attention they do. In world of entertainment winning isn't always necessary– performances are what count. 

Unlike other fighting sports such as boxing or MMA, grapplers compete far more often and their records are rarely spotless. It’s much more common to suffer a loss via a technicality of the rules or drop a tightly-contested decision. 

Even the great Renzo Gracie, one of Tom's mentors and inspirations, has a spotty record. His MMA career was a rollercoaster of wins and losses but one thing was always certain; he would fight his heart out and people loved him for it. 

The truth is that sometimes Tom is his own worst enemy. He could play it safe and go out there and cruise to an easy win, but he wants to meet people head on and go to war. He'll let people attack his legs (knowing full well he'll never tap to a leglock) just so he can muster a counter, even though this will often penalize him in the eyes of the judges. 

How do you fix a problem like this? The answer is not simple. DeBlass would need to fundamentally change his mindset and that's unlikely to happen. 

But he'll stay true to his principals and that's more important than an undeserved win. 

Watch Tom DeBlass videos on FloGrappling, including matches, interviews and techniques.

Live Updates: 2019 IBJJF Pans Black Belt Finals

It's the final day of the 2019 IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships and I'll be running live updates from matside. 

11 Must-See Black Belt Matches from Pans

The first day of black belt competition at the 2019 Pan Championships delivered the kind action expected of such a high caliber event. 

IBJJF Pan Championship: Live Updates of Black Belt Absolute Division

The 2019 IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship black belt absolute division will run on Mats 5-8, with men on 5 & 8 and women on 6 & 7. Watch the live stream here. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Pans Black Belt Live Updates: Saturday Morning Opening Rounds

Follow along as I recap the opening rounds of the male black belt weight divisions. The black belts start at 9.00am sharp with qualifying rounds and they'll work through to the quarterfinals (which go down tomorrow, Sunday March 23). 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

PANS 2019: Women's Absolute Black Belt Brackets OUT NOW

The women’s black belt absolute has 14 competitors signed up and is remarkable for the fact that Gabi Garcia makes her return to gi jiu-jitsu. 

Pan Black Belt Absolute Division Brackets OUT NOW

The brackets are out for the Pan black belt absolute division! Get a look at them right here.

IBJJF 2019 Pan Male Purple Belt Standouts: Munis, Tainan, Meyram & More


The men’s purple belt divisions lit up the opening day of the 2019 IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Irvine, CA. Of the 10 available gold medals, nine were claimed by Brazilians while the Japanese grappler Hiryu Niwa took top spot in the roosterweight division. 

Road to Pans Gold: Pedro Machado (Gordo Jiu-Jitsu)

The medium-heavy purple belt division was filled to the brim with rising talents from around the world, but none performed more beautifully today then Gordo Jiu-Jitsu representative Pedro Machado.

Middleweight: The Most Competitive Black Belt Division at 2019 IBJJF Pans

The largest black belt division at this year’s Pans, middleweight also has a ridiculous amount of athletes with a legit shot of challenging for the title.  

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Lo, Kaynan, Gaudio: Why Heavyweight Is The Most Intriguing Division at Pans

The heavyweight division always offers plenty of entertainment, but this year we should see a three way race to gold between powerhouse athletes Leandro Lo, Patrick Gaudio and Kaynan Duarte. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In