This article originally appeared on grapplinginsider.com
On Dec. 12, Kazushi Sakuraba’s brainchild, Quintet, returns to the United States after its last event was held in Japan. The promotion is bringing its latest to Las Vegas for Quintet Ultra. This is an interesting spin on the popular no-gi, submission only, team-based survival tournament. Fighters representing Ultimate Fighting Championship, Pride Fighting Championships, World Extreme Cagefighting and Strikeforce will face off under the this ruleset in what is almost guaranteed to be a blockbuster bill after the full team list was recently released.
Quintet Ultra features four, five-man teams captained by Kazushi Sakuraba for Pride, Anthony Smith for UFC, Gilbert Melendez for Strikeforce and Chad Mendes for WEC. Not knowing each team’s running order and the semi-final matchups make a solid prediction very difficult, not to mention the variety of grappling styles as BJJ, Judo, freestyle and catch-wrestling competitors are all present. Looking at the teams that each brand is fielding, they’re relatively evenly matched with each team having their own weak links and star players.
Superfight PredictionsThe night will begin with a preliminary match between Craig Jones and Fredson Paixao. Though the Quintet rules ban heelhooks, Craig Jones boasts a formidable leglock game and a growing love for front-headlock attacks that may prove difficult for seasoned wristlocker Paixao. Coming off a fantastic ADCC run and a slick victory over Adam Wardzinski at Grapplefest 7, Jones should be far too much for Paixao to handle.
Team Alpha Male fighter Cynthia Calvillo, fresh off a performance on UFC on ESPN 7, will take on Renzo Gracie brown belt Danielle Kelly. Calvillo has some submission wins on her record and performs well in MMA, but in a strictly grappling ruleset, Kelly’s jiu-jitsu skills should be too difficult to overcome.
The final singles match will find Gordon Ryan taking on the master of the Ezekiel choke, Alexey Oleynik. Oleinik has an incredible record of 45 submission victories in MMA, but he’s never faced a competitor anywhere near Ryan’s skill level on the ground. There’s always the chance that Oleinik manages to pull off a stunning upset with a shock Ezekiel, but realistically, Ryan should coast to a comfortable victory here.
Quintet Ultra TournamentThe main event is stacked with MMA legends and quite a few wildcards. Each team has at least one strong contender like the UFC’s Gilbert Burns, Pride’s Gregor Gracie, WEC’s James Krause and Strikeforce’s Jake Shields. The team’s overall performances will really hinge on their star-players. If someone like Shields can take out two or three members of the opposing team then that builds up a comfortable lead for their squad.
Shields and Burns are probably the best grapplers in the competition, but WEC looks like the strongest all-round team. With Chad Mendes’ non-stop cardio and great wrestling, Glover Teixeira’s vastly underrated top-game and James Krause solid skills in any area, they have the best chance of having solid team performances.
Despite WEC being the favorites to win, one great performance from any of the other team’s key players will blow the tournament wide open.
Team UFCAnthony Smith
Team PrideKazushi Sakuraba
Team WECChad Mendes
Team StrikeforceGilbert Melendez
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