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Fight To Win 152 featured several of the biggest names in the lightweight division, as well as a match between Romulo Barral and Gabriel Almeida, and the return of the Fight to Win Judo format.
Find out how some of the most exciting matches went down!
Tainan Dalpara vs Italo Lima Costa
Dalpara pulled guard, but quickly came on top. In true AOJ style, his guard passing looked effortless. He appeared to be toying with Costa, keeping a slow but steady pace in carving through the guard and releasing threatening submission grips.
He took an armbar and released it for a chance at back control. Then he relinquished the back control for a second armbar attempt, with which Dalpara secured the submission.
Judo: Vernon Kirk vs Garrett Andrews
For the first time in the COVID era, Fight to Win Judo returned. This match was a clinic on seoi nage throws between Vernon Kirk and Garrett Andrews. In two instances, Kirk attempted an initial seoi nage. Andrews kept a strong base, and countered Kirk’s failed throw with an identical technique. Andrews scored on both, winning by two ippons.
Isiah Wright vs David Garcia
This was a clean victory for Isiah Wright. He opened with a gripless trip, setting Garcia to the mat. He established control on top in half guard and then entered outside ashi, where he collected a quick heel hook and the submission.
Nathan Mendelsohn vs Rafael Lang
Lang was aggressive in his foot sweep attempts, but Mendelsohn was content to withstand them until he saw the opportunity for his grip. He grabbed the lapel on the way down and set up a lapel guard. He used the grip to sweep. Not finding offensive opportunity, Mendelsohn returned to his own guard and swept again.
A strong pass attempt from Mendelsohn forced Lang to turtle. In an effort to protect his back, Lang eventually conceded the sweep.
With little time left on the clock, Mendelsohn attempts a mounted triangle. He then switched the attack to an armbar, and Lang rolled toward the edge of the stage in an effort to escape as time expired.
Mendelsohn took the unanimous decision victory.
Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa vs Alex Martins
Martins did not delay in pulling guard. Formiga kept his head low and his hips back in effort to pass the guard, but he could not clear Martins’ grip inside the sleeve.
When Martins eventually relinquished the grip, Formiga tried a series of slams to break through the closed guard. It helped him on the scorecards, but was ineffective at opening the guard.
The match remained a stalemate, but the result went unanimously to Formiga for slams and overall activity.
Romulo Barral vs Gabriel Almeida
Almeida dictated the pace to open the match. He pulled guard several times, standing back up when he couldn’t immediately create an offensive guard. On Almeida’s third pull, Barral found an entry for his legendary knee cut pass. He tried several angles, but couldn’t get fully through Almeida’s guard.
The competitors returned to a standing position where they traded grips for a while.
Almeida eventually pulled the trigger, sitting directly into a sweep which put Barral on his back for the first time. He followed the sweep with a precise leg drag pass and inched through the last line of Barral’s defense. Almeida tried to progress to mount, but Barral escaped, ending up on top in Almeida’s closed guard. In Barral’s corner, Edwin Najmi encouraged Barral to try to slam Almeida to earn favor with the judges. When Barral finally stood up for the slam, Almeida attacked his leg.
Almeida won by unanimous decision.
Johnny Tama vs Johnatha Alves
Likely anticipating the crafty guard work of Alves, Tama was first to sit. He did not hesitate to initiate a lapel guard sequence to slow Alves down. But Alves appeared willing to play a slow game. He entered an over-under pass, ending up in half guard where he activated a grueling pressure passing game. Alves passed and maintained shoulder pressure, and passed again after Tama eventually re-established his guard.
Alves struggled to create any legitimate offense, and Tama eventually got his foot into Alves’s lapel to escape.
From a reset, Tama jumped to closed guard. There, he fished for lapel grips and tried to create offense, but Alves appeared confident in his advantage from positional control, and did not give Tama enough space to work in the time remaining.
Alves won by unanimous decision, Reflecting on the match, he called his performance unacceptable, noting that he aspired for a submission victory.
Edwin Najmi vs Michael Liera Jr for Fight To Win Welterweight Title
Liera Jr took quick control of the match with a guard pull right into a deep De La Riva guard. He swept Najmi and started a sequence of pass attempts, moving from a knee cut to a torreando pass which was nearly enough to get him through Najmi’s guard.
When Najmi recovered, Liera switched to a leg drag. Najmi heisted up on his hand to defend, and Liera climbed across his back to attack with an inverted triangle. When Najmi defended the triangle, Liera had a shot at his back, but Najmi got free.
Liera returned to bottom but eventually earned another sweep. This time, he got a better angle on the leg drag pass and secured side control. Liera struggled to generate offense and eventually both competitors found their way to their feet.
Liera jumped to guard again, and Najmi, needing an offensive opportunity, sat back on a foot lock.
From there, the competitors remained in a see-saw battle of 50-50 ankle locks. While Liera was able to tally up attacks, Najmi remained ahead, and his attacks consistently appeared more substantial than Liera’s.
Najmi won by split decision as a result of his advantage in the footlock trade.