Who's Next: Submission Fighter Challenge presented by Tezos

Who's Moving On, Who's Going Home? | Who's Next Ep. 1 Recap

Who's Moving On, Who's Going Home? | Who's Next Ep. 1 Recap

The athletes arrive, the coaches are announced, and eight athletes get sent home. Here's what happened in the first episode of the Who's Next reality show.

May 19, 2022 by Corey Stockton
Who's Moving On, Who's Going Home? | Who's Next Ep. 1 Recap

The premise is simple: 16 athletes have come to Austin, TX, for a grappling tournament. FloGrappling’s Who’s Next: Submission Fighter Challenge presented by Tezos has brought up-and-coming submission grapplers from across the world to compete for $10,000 and a three-fight contract on WNO.

Many of them flew directly from the 2021 ADCC East Coast Trials. Others are just a few months off of gold medal hauls at the 2021 IBJJF No-Gi World Championships. But it wasn’t until they arrived on set that they learned the exact details of the competition.

They would compete in no time limit, submission-only matches; the first eight matches would occur immediately — on the same day — and only the winners of the first round would make it into the competitor’s house to remain for the duration of the show.

Haven't seen Who's Next Episode 1? Watch it now!

Enter the coaches.

The eight winners will be split up into two teams. Four will represent the Blue Team, coached by Craig Jones, and the other four will represent Tim Spriggs’ Red Team. Spriggs, the WNO Heavyweight Champion, entered the mat are holding his WNO strap, while Jones revealed t-shirt which read “Accept the match, Timothy.”

The provocation didn’t grab a drastic response from Spriggs; but Craig Jones has a knack for getting under peoples’ skin when given a long enough runway.

Up first, Jay Rodriguez faced 10th Planet’s Rene Sousa. The younger brother of ADCC silver medalist Nick Rodriguez, Jay Rod impressed Tim Spriggs with his wrestling skill, and had Sousa under attack throughout the match. But Sousa, renowned for his buggy choke even before the filming of the show, seemed to allow Rodriguez to pass in order to snag his sneaky specialty attack.

Match two featured an apparent fish out of water, as former Ohio State Wrestler, Josh Demas took on recent brown belt no-gi world champion and Craig Jones student Izaak Michell. Michell pulled guard immediately, neutralizing Demas’ best asset, and applied pressure from the bottom, taxing Demas’ gas tank early.

Demas attempted an unconvincing and imprecise toe hold, which was met with a strong counter heel hook from Michell, earning the victory for Michell and putting the Australian into the house. 

Want to see the uncut versions of every match from Who's Next? Click here.

Another younger brother to a talented grappling star, Andrew Tackett took the mat against Fabian Ramirez in match 3. Tackett’s aggressive style and “marathon” pace gave him early control of the match. But Ramirez, an experienced EBI-rules competitor, showed off his abilities to survive and escape, dragging the match beyond 45-minutes before Tackett finally collected an armbar finish. Tackett was the youngest and smallest competitor to make it into the house.

That’s a direct contrast with the winner of the next match; the show’s two biggest contestants squared off. Dan Manasoiu of New Wave Jiu-Jitsu faced Legion AJJ’s Breylor Grout. Manasoiu made quick work of the match, pulling guard and launching an outside heel hook, earning the tap in 28 seconds.

Up next, everyone’s favorite match: Mike Rakshan vs Spencer Fossier. These competitors had two of the most colorful personalities on the show, making this matchup a perfect pairing. Rakshan may have been the favorite, but Fossier — “the Sewer Rat” — opened with a clean seoi nage, and took early control of the match before conceding it to Rakshan.

Then, in the most unusual sequence I’ve ever seen in a grappling match, Rakshan appeared to put the Rat to sleep with his “Camel Crush,” a catch wrestling style rib compression lock. When the referee called an end to the match, Sewer Rat contested that he didn’t tap, and that he was “playing possum.”

Rakshan invited the match to continue. It resumed from the same position, and he secured the submission.

In the next match, Kyle Chambers secured a heel hook victory over Max Hansen. Following that, 2021 brown belt world champ and no-gi world champ Jansen Gomes hit a shotgun armbar on Andy Varela. It was sudden, and seems to have reignited a recently-sustained injury to Varela’s arm. During the match, Spriggs indicated that he would be paying close attention to Gomes.

The final match was one of the most incredible, inspiring, and one of the longest matches in the history of FloGrappling. Adam Bradley was bullied by Tristan Overvig for most of their nearly three-hour long match. Bradley narrowly escaped several armbar attacks, and spent an entire hour mounted by Overvig. He endured, sustaining several injuries, but demonstrating incredible heart. In an instant of resilience, Bradley escaped a submission attempt and wrapped around Overvig’s neck, securing the submission after 174 minutes of grappling.

Following the final match, the coaches drew teams. With the first pick, Tim Spriggs selected Jansen Gomes. 

Red Team (Coach Tim Spriggs)

Jansen Gomes | defeated Andy Varela via armbar (7:13)

Daniel Manasoiu | defeated Breylor Grout via heel hook (0:28)

Kyle Chambers | defeated Max Hansen via inside heel hook (9:22)

Adam Bradley | defeated Tristan Overvig via rear naked choke (2:53:59) 

Blue Team (Coach Craig Jones)

Izaak Michell | defeated Josh Demas via inside heel hook (4:10)

Andrew Tackett | defeated Fabian Ramirez via armbar (45:26)

Rene Sousa | defeated Jay Rodriguez via buggy choke (2:54)

Mike Rakshan | defeated Spencer Fossier via camel crush (6:08)