Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

QUINTET 3: The Definitive Preview

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Everyone knows about this Saturday’s MMA event: UFC 229. The mega-card, headlined by lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and global superstar, Conor McGregor, has deservedly taken up a vast majority of the world of combat sports’ attention. But there’s another event that everyone should be sure to focus on: QUINTET 3.

The brainchild of the legendary grappler and UFC Hall of Famer, Kazushi Sakuraba, QUINTET is a unique, team-style grappling event. It pits four teams, each composed of five competitors, against one another.

In the promotion’s stateside debut, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate will be participating in the commentary booth.

What sets QUINTET apart from other team-based grappling events is the winner-stays-on survival format. If a competitor wins, he or she then faces the next competitor from their vanquished opponent’s team.

Theoretically, one grappler could essentially defeat an entire team of opponents by submitting each of the five. However, due to the talent on display at QUINTET 3, that is an extremely unlikely scenario.

Below are the breakdowns of each of the four QUINTET 3 teams: Team Sakuraba, Team Alpha Male, Team Polaris, and Team 10th Planet.

Team Alpha Male

Team Alpha Male, one of the premier MMA gyms in the world, will make their QUINTET debut this Friday. Led by the gym’s founder, UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber, the Alpha Male team features fighters prominent in both MMA and competitive jiu jitsu.

Urijah Faber

Faber, who recently retired from MMA competition, is a name synonymous with greatness. The former WEC featherweight champion has a long history in grappling, wrestling in college at UC Davis, where he qualified twice for the NCAA tournament.

Since turning pro as a martial artist, Faber has expanded his role within jiu jitsu, racking up 19 submission wins as a martial artist, including the 2013 World MMA Awards‘ “Submission of the Year” (vs. Ivan Menjivar).

Mansher Khera

Mansher Khera, 26, is an established name in the world of competitive Brazilian jiu jitsu. In 2014, Khera took the gold medal in the black belt divisions for both his weight and absolute at the IBJJF World No-Gi Championships.

A black belt under the legendary Marcelo Garcia, Khera was banned from Garcia’s gym alongside his friend and training partner, the infamous Dillon Danis. The IBJJF no-gi staple now trains with Danis at Unity Jiu Jitsu in New York.

Dustin Akbari

When Urijah Faber assembled his QUINTET 3 team, he had to look no further than his own mats to find Dustin Akbari. A professional fighter and a fiery competitive grappler, Akbari is the grappling coach at the Team Alpha Male gym.

Akbari has competed in a slew of jiu jitsu competitions, including Fight to Win Pro, where he competed against notable names like Garry Tonon and Vagner Rocha. Akbari is an IBJJF no-gi mainstay, and his work with the Alpha Male fighters has led to his stellar reputation.

Antoine Joaude

Antoine Joaude, a forty-one-year-old Brazilian, is another grappler turned MMA fighter. As a wrestler, Joaude garnered international attention when he earned a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2003 Pan American Games.

The 8-3 martial artist fought in the now-defunct IFL, where he most notably faced eventual UFC and Bellator fighter Roy Nelson. Joaude impressively went to the 2004 Olympics for wrestling, where he was the lone South American competing.

Gordon Ryan

Last, but certainly not least, is Gordon Ryan. It is impossible to heap enough praise on Ryan, who recently won gold in last year’s ADCC event for his weight division, coupled with silver for the absolute division. The Danaher Death Squad team member is also a multi-time EBI tournament winner.

Perhaps most incredibly, Ryan was not intended to be on Team Alpha Male’s squad. Due to a Kelly Anundson injury, an opening was freed up on the team. Luckily for Team Alpha Male, Gordon Ryan answered the call.

Team 10th Planet

Like Team Alpha Male, Team 10th Planet also aims to highlight a specific gym. In this case, it is 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, the school of the iconic Eddie Bravo. Bravo assembled his team after QUINTET 1, and the team’s efforts at QUINTET 2 culminated in an incredible victory. Each of the Team 10th Planet members all well versed in Bravo’s system and the QUINTET rules.

Geo Martinez

A black belt under Eddie Bravo, Geo “Freakazoid” Martinez is an incredibly talented and entertaining grappler. As a former breakdancer, Martinez’s dexterity and flexibility allow him to effortlessly contort to the physical demands of jiu jitsu.

Those skills allowed him to win the EBI tournament three times, at EBI 1, EBI 2, and EBI 10. Martinez has also competed on the global stage at ADCC, and of course was a member of the QUINTET 2 winning Team 10th Planet.

Richie Martinez

Richie “Boogeyman” Martinez, the brother of Geo, shares a very similar background to him. A talented leglocker, Martinez has competed at EBI, the ONNIT Invitational, and, most recently, at KASAI Pro.

The elder Martinez even ventured into MMA, where he compiled a 3-2 record. All three of his wins came via first-round submission, and two amazingly came via Japanese Necktie!

PJ Barch

PJ Barch, a 10th Planet Freaks black belt, is one of Eddie Bravo’s most active competitors. A frequent EBI contestant, Barch is an uber-athletic wrestler whose gutsy performances at QUINTET 2 and the Sapateiro Invitational put his name on the international radar.

Recently, Barch competed at EBI 16 during the combat jiu jitsu portion of the event, highlighting just how gritty and eager to engage he is.

Adam Sachnoff

Adam Sachnoff is one of Team 10th Planet’s two 100+ kg competitors. A black belt under Denny Prokopos (under the 10th Planet system), Sachnoff’s large frame and stark red hair have granted him the nicknames, “Big Red” and “Red Destroyer”.

Sachnoff is an ONNIT Invitational staple, having competed often under that organization’s banner. He has also competed in Fight to Win and ADCC, a testament to his grappling successes.

Amir Allam

The second 100+ kg grappler on Team 10th Planet, Amir Allam, is another 10th Planet black belt. Like his teammates, he also has competed at EBI.

Allam is a grappler who always hunts for the finish, and has a shockingly good guard for someone of his stature. He’s also notoriously difficult to submit, making him an ideal candidate for QUINTET.

Team Polaris

Unlike Team Alpha Male and Team 10th Planet, Team Polaris centers around a promotion, not a specific gym. As such, it is made up of various fighters with different loyalties, styles, and backgrounds. The team also won QUINTET 1.

Dan Strauss

Dan Strauss is a beast of a man. But don’t let his hulking figure or aggressive style fool you. Strauss has the nuances of technique to keep up with everyone. A veteran of EBI, Polaris, and ADCC, Strauss has done it all.

A black belt under Roger Gracie, Strauss’ patented power led to his nickname, “The Raspberry Ape”.

Marcin Held

Poland’s Marcin Held is a noted name not only in jiu jitsu but in MMA as well. The ex-UFC and current ACB fighter has a penchant for attacking legs and adapted his game to fit the ruleset of QUINTET.

In his MMA career, Held has complied fourteen submission victories of his twenty-four career wins.

Gregor Gracie

A black belt under Renzo Gracie, Gregor Gracie has an extensive résumé from his time as a colored belt. As a black belt, things haven’t changed. Gracie has won Grapplers Quest four times and took the silver medal at the 2008 World No-Gi Championship.

In MMA, Gracie competed in ONE Championship and WSOF, where he amassed a 7-4 record on the strength of six submission wins.

Vítor “Shaolin” Ribiero

The legendary Vítor “Shaolin” Ribiero will make his QUINTET debut at QUINTET 3. An ADCC bronze medalist in 2003, Ribiero is a storied Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner.

Ribiero recently competed at three Polaris events, scoring submissions over Daisuke Nakamura and Caol Uno while dropping a decision to Fernando Terere. And don’t forget about his 2017 win over Kenny Florian, when he put the ex-UFC star to sleep.

Craig Jones

Rounding out Team Polaris is a man who could quite possibly be the grappler with the hottest recent streak in recent memory. Craig Jones broke out at the 2017 ADCC with wins over Leandro Lo and Murillo Santana, but he proved it was no fluke in his follow up performances.

The prolific competitor has defeated a slew of notable names, including Jake Shields, Dante Leon, Marcos Souza, Richie Martinez, Matheus Diniz, and even the Herculean Rousimar Palhares, all in 2018. There are a dozen exciting matchups for Jones at QUINTET 3.

Team Sakuraba

Wrapping up our look at the four teams making up QUINTET 3 is the founder’s himself. Kazushi Sakuraba’s team has yet to win the tournament, but Sakuraba believes they’re ready to do so at QUINTET 3. The variety of this team is evident in its makeup.

Kazushi Sakuraba

What more can be said about Kazushi Sakuraba that hasn’t already been said? The UFC Hall of Famer made his name in his native Japan, earning the nickname “Gracie Killer” due to his success against the storied Brazilian family.

Sakuraba quelled fears of his condition at the past two QUINTET events, proving that his age, 49, is just a number. His team looks to earn their first QUINTET win at QUINTET 3.

Marcos de Souza

Marcos de Souza earned his black belt from his father, Adilson de Souza. The Brazilian relocated to Japan in 2007. A four-time IBJJF Asian champion, de Souza has a pressure-oriented game that makes him a perfect fit for QUINTET.

It also translated well to his burgeoning MMA career, in which de Souza has gone a blistering 7-0 with six submissions.

Roberto de Souza

While Team 10th Planet has the Martinez brothers, Team Sakuraba sports the de Souza brothers. Roberto de Souza, the brother of Marcos, in many ways mirrors his brother’s career.

A UAEJJF mainstay, de Souza also has an MMA career. He’s amassed a 6-0 record, complete with five submissions. He joins his older brother on Team Sakuraba for QUINTET 3.

Daisuke Nakamura

Daisuke Nakamura is an original member of Team Sakuraba. A shoot wrestler, Nakamura has an exciting, action-packed style that’s sure to please. Nakamura is well-known for his armbar attacks.

A mixed martial artist as well as a grappler, has compiled fifteen submission wins in his MMA career, which spanned M-1, DREAM, PRIDE FC, and DEEP.

Josh Barnett

The biggest competitor on Team Sakuraba, Josh Barnett, is a noted MMA veteran. The former UFC heavyweight champion was recently cleared in a lengthy USADA skirmish, freeing him to pursue free agency.

Before he does, however, the catch-wrestler will look to earn a win for his team at QUINTET 3. Interestingly (as I noted prior to QUINTET 1), Barnett has a unique story behind his black belt. “With no training in jiu jitsu (either in the Gi or outside of it), Barnett was awarded a black belt in the art by Erik Paulson with an endorsement from Rigan Machado.”

In addition to the stacked team tournament, there are three fascinating special matches that will take place, as well.

Nicky Ryan vs. Hideo Tokoro

While this is a stand-alone matchup, it does involve two of the teams featured above. In a special match, Nicky Ryan (the brother of the aforementioned Gordon Ryan) will face Hideo Tokoro, an original member of Team Sakuraba.

Ryan, 17, is a jiu jitsu prodigy. Since the age of 13, he’s been tapping adults and higher belts left and right. The younger Ryan brother has competed in a slate of high-level jiu jitsu competitions, including the prestigious ADCC. Recently, he even defeated Eddie Bravo’s top black belt, the aforementioned Geo Martinez.

Tokoro, however, will be no pushover. The risk-taking Tokoro has a reputation for competing at a breakneck speed, and his submissions attempts are lightning fast and frequent. A longtime MMA veteran, he brings a wealth of experience into a fight with a grappler who had was born around the same time Tokoro had his first professional fight.

Frank Mir vs. Satoshi Ishii

While the first special match features two light, nimble competitors, the second match pits two massive, powerful grapplers against one another. The first of which is the illustrious Frank Mir.

Mir, 39, is a former UFC heavyweight champion. Alongside UFC gold, he sports two Submission of the Night awards and is third place record holder for submissions in the UFC. He’s also a black belt under Ricardo Pires and has competed in numerous grappling competitions.

Mir’s opponent is QUINTET veteran, Satoshi Ishii. In 2008, Ishii took the Olympic gold in judo home with him to Japan. Just one year prior, in 2007, he won gold at the World Judo Championships as a member of the Japanese team. He’ll bring that world-class judo experience to a special match with Frank Mir.

Marcelo Nunes vs. Haisam Rida

If you watched QUINTET 2, you remember Haisam Rida. The brown belt was the breakout star of the event, taking out three members of Team Tiger Muay Thai and submitting Richie Martinez of Team 10th Planet. Now recently promoted to black belt at Carpe Diem, Rida is back by popular demand on the QUINTET stage.

Marcelo Nunes, 29, is a Brazilian black belt under Robert Drysdale. A powerful, talented jiu jitsu practitioner, Nunes is also an MMA fighter. Nunes went 5-1 in his career, with four submission victories. This looks to be an incredibly entertaining matchup.

This week, the eve before one of the world’s biggest UFC events isn’t just reserved for ceremonial weigh-ins. It features one of the most anticipated grappling events of the year: QUINTET 3.

With an array of notable names in jiu jitsu, judo, catch wrestling, and MMA set to compete, storylines abound. Regardless of one’s interest in jiu jitsu, there’s certainly something for everyone at QUINTET’s United States debut.

Make sure to tune in to the event, support these competitors, and enjoy an incredible show on UFC Fight Pass. The event kicks off on Friday, October 5th, at 7:00 PM (EST).

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Michael Fiedel is a journalist covering mixed martial arts and submission grappling. He has been training in Brazilian jiu jitsu for almost two years and has immersed himself in both jiu jitsu and MMA. He has written for both MMA Today and MMA Sucka.

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