After the success of the first two events by Figure4Promotions, topping them would, at first glance, seem to be incredibly difficult, however, for GrappleFest 3, the promotion has pulled out all the stops again with a world class main and co main event.
The main event sees the return of Matheus Diniz, a world medallist and Kasai Pro Champion, who lost a razor close split decision to Craig Jones at GrappleFest 2 which in the eyes of many observers, could have gone his way! He faces Daniel Strauss, one of the UK’s top NoGi grapplers, no stranger to sub only events, competing on Polaris in entertaining bouts against AJ Agazarm and Jake Shields, while losing efforts, he showed he can hang at world level being chosen to represent Polaris at the Quintet teams tournaments.
The Co-Main event pits 2-time GrappleFest Superfight winner Ross Nicholls, who just recently put on a brilliant performance submitting his way to ADCC European trials Gold and cementing his place at the ADCC, against Gianni Grippo another Marcelo Garcia Athlete and a competitor known mainly for his Gi prowess being a Pan Ams, European and World Pro Champion in the kimono. Gianni has had a lot of NoGi success, being a two-time winner of the IBJJF Pan Ams NoGi at black belt and placing third at the IBJJF World NoGi Championship. With GrappleFest being all subs legal, it’s important to note that he is also an ADCC Veteran, winning his first match in 2015 before losing to the eventual champion Rubens Charles by a single guard pass!
Not content on having a world class Main and Co-Main event, they have stacked card with some really exciting match ups, such as Catch wrestling specialist and BJJ Black belt Kameron Atakuru taking on the dangerous Freddie Vosgrone, there is also a battle of Polaris veterans, Lloyd Cooper returns after his excellent performance against Bryn Jenkins in the first GrappleFest taking on GrappleFest 2 winner Tom Caughey.
Progress Jiu Jitsu sponsored athlete Marcus Phelan takes on black belt Sean McDonagh in an explosive matchup, a contender for fight of the night. NEJJ Coach, and brown belt Ellis Younger also features making his brown belt debut after a successful run at Purple winning the IBJJF European NoGi and British open!
With such a massive card happening in the UK, it’s only right we catch up with the brains behind the Promotion! Fighters Market EU recently sat down one of the Co-Promoters of the event Chris Thompson, to talk about GrappleFest 3 and what the future has in store for Figure4Promotions !
FME - Congratulations on Figure4Promotions it’s already one of the top grappling shows in Europe. Tell us about yourself, your background and how Figure4 came about?
CT - I've been training grappling since about 2006 mainly for MMA but did a bit in the Gi and got a blue belt in 2008. I wouldn’t wear the Gi for about 5 years after that! Around 2013 I returned to training in the Gi and competing in both Gi and NoGi pretty regularly since then. Contrary to popular belief (haha) I really like the Gi and think the IBJJF rule set is the best way for matches involving the kimono. I do however think 'No Gi' is basically a different sport, and the rules should include more submissions. Myself and my partner Daren Morris decided to create Figure 4 Promotions to showcase submission grappling with all submissions allowed and GrappleFest was born!
FME - you’ve had two really successful events, but number 3 looks set to blow the other two out the water, what was the thought process in choosing the competitors for the Main and co Main event ?
CT - Yeah we've been pretty pleased with the first two events, in terms of how they have been received by the audience and also by the competitors. The card for the third event is stacked and the Main and Co Main events are World class match ups. I spend a lot of time working out which two people will create an exciting match with their respective styles. Hopefully this is seen in the matches we have put on so far.
FME - when choosing athletes for your show, what are you looking for ? Is it their competition record, style of grappling or anything else ?
How can someone impress you enough that they can get onto the show?
CT - When I am match making, I am on the look out for high level competitors. As someone who is in that scene myself I know who is active and who is good so it's a question of putting together a list of people I like in each weight classes and then matching them up style wise. No one can win every match but we are looking for people who hunt for the sub and go for it during the match, these are the people who impress us.
FME - Recently you added a blue belt tournament where the winners feature on the main card, talk about the thought process behind that ?
CT - Yeah the blue belt tournament is a good one as we want to showcase some lower belts on the card as well as the top guys. We want the show to be one for everyone. We thought a great way to do this was to put on a mini single elimination tournament of 16 people in each weight division and let them compete so we are left with two athletes who will compete in the final of that weight class on the show. The winner of that match will be guaranteed another match on the future cards as well.
FME - With many shows such as Kasai Grappling, Polaris and F2W pro giving out title belts and having champions, is this something you will be introducing into Figure4?
CT - Yes, we have 5 male weight classes u70, u80, u90, u100 and over 100kgs and 2 female weight classes u65 and over 65kgs and the plan has always been to have a champion in each one of those categories who will then defend their belt on future shows too.
FME - Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us and we can’t wait for your next show!
CT - Thanks for taking the time to contact us and showing an interest in UK grappling, it's great to see UK and European brands work together and support each other!