The headliner of Metamoris 7 wasn't the bout anticipated or expected, but at least it ended.
Sunday, inside the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles, grappling star Garry Tonon gave up 40 pounds to Metamoris founder and promoter Ralek Gracie in their makeshift main event, but still managed to pull off a trademark chain of leglocks in order to force the tap just beyond the 15-minute mark of a scheduled 20.
While the 205-pound Gracie did hit a beautiful drop seoinage at one point on his smaller foe, Tonon's non-stop attacking and scrambling drove the pace of the match, forcing Gracie to the defensive more often than not. Tonon tried to attack from back control on several occasions, but wound up evenually rolling for a toe hold that allowed him to sweep to top position in an inverted guard and in the blink of an eye, turned it into a kneebar for the tap.
“He's considerably heavier than me and he's been grappling all of his life, so I didn't want to do something like blow my load in the first 10 minutes or so then not be able to submit him, because not being able to submit him wouldn't have looked good for me,” Tonon said after the bout.
It was the third Metamoris win for Tonon, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in the Renzo Gracie lineage under Tom DeBlass and Ricardo Almeida. The 25-year-old previously guillotined Kit Dale at Metamoris 4 in August 2014 before returning three months later at Metamoris 5, heel hooking Zak Maxwell.
The originally planned main event was a rematch between jiu-jitsu legends Roger Gracie and Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida who grappled to a 20-minute time limit draw at Metamoris 1 in October 2012. In May, Almeida announced that despite being announced for the Metamoris 7 headliner, he had never signed a contract and would not compete at the event. Subsequently, his rival Gracie said he had no interest in facing anyone other than Almeida, prompting him to drop off the card as well. Ralek Gracie, who was originally scheduled to meet Tim Spriggs on the card, then stepped in the headlining role against Tonon instead.
The dissolution of the Almeida-Gracie rematch was the latest public relations difficulty for Metamoris, which has been plagued by ongoing claims from athletes that they've either not been paid, or only paid part of their agreed upon purse, after competing at previous events. Notable athletes who've voiced their payment issues with the promotion include Chael Sonnen, “Babalu” Renato Sobral, Joe Lauzon and A.J. Agazarm.
Tonon's tapout of Gracie was a relief of sorts, however, as all five other bouts at Metamoris 7 were ruled time limit draws after 20 minutes.
In perhaps the most entertaining of the draws, eight-time BJJ world champion Bruno Malfacine, typically a 125-pound competitor, gave up some 30 pounds to Jeff Glover, who exited the event's commentary booth for the co-main event before returning afterwards to call the Tonon-Gracie match.
Glover entertained the crowd and his opponent with his infamous “donkey guard” and even pulled a full headstand at one point. While Glover did have a good look at a heel hook late in the contest, the smaller and speedier Malfacine threatened Glover's back throughout the entire contest and nearly pulled off two brilliant nearside armbars, which were only thwarted by Glover's quick recognition, defense, and perhaps size as well.
2008 Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii was expected to face BJJ world champ and former UFC heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga before “Napao” pulled out days in advance, prompting 45-year-old veteran “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko to take his place. Matyushenko was taken to his knees by a clever reap from Ishii, who then got a rear waistlock and tried to tip the Belarussian to his back for nearly the entire contest. In the final five minutes, Ishii finally exposed his shoulders to the mat and took side control, but a single north-south choke attempt was all the offense he could offer in the tedious contest.
UFC middleweight Kevin Casey dominated positionally against 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu rep Richie Martinez, but the 20 minutes saw no real submission threats. Casey put Martinez on the canvas at will, but save for a brief pass to side control, struggled get past Martinez's constant double butterfly hooks and rubber guard tactics and create any real offense.
More entertaining was a fun stylistic pairing between 2002 BJJ world champ Fabio Leopoldo and the ever-innovative Eduardo Telles. Telles employed his famous guard variations, the octopus and the turtle guard, but relied on the latter extensively to attack for leglocks on Leopoldo, who controlled position with front headlocks while threatening for guillotines and brabo chokes. The bout saw the night's most consistent, dynamic grappling offense, but still ended in a time limit draw after Telles escaped a late, tight guillotine from Leopoldo, the best attempt of the contest.
In the evening's opener, Millennia MMA's Stephen Martinez took Morgan Neidlinger down repeatedly and had a great look at a kimura transition to an armbar in the first five minutes, but once Neidlinger got warm, his difficult guard game made it hard for Martinez to do much from top. Neidlinger sprang back to his feet often, even attempting a decent flying triangle at one point, but neither man could secure the submission.