Happy Tuesday, everybody! I hope to hear that everyone is well rested from a lazy weekend without much competition action going on, and ready for some fast-paced NoGi Jiu-Jitsu in New York City! The Ultimate Absolute: Lightweight Edition is finally upon us, and I know many are very excited for this event. Today, I will be previewing the event and letting you, the reader, know who you should be looking out for and who the favorite should be.

First though, on a personal note, although I was lined up to compete in the event this weekend, I am unfortunately going to have to pull out due to a few injuries suffered in my last tournament. As much as I regret missing the opportunity, my full focus is on the Pans and Worlds now, and also I can now give you a completely unbiased prediction on who should win the Ultimate Absolute.

So now, back to business…

Even though the tournament has had names come and go, the event is still sure to hold some of the most recognizable faces in jiu-jitsu today. If you are a fan and fretting that Cobrinha, JT and Samuel Braga are not going to be a part of the event, then you should be happy to know there are still studs such as Ryan Hall, Justin Rader, Celso Vinicius, Bruno Malfacine and Mike Fowler ready to put on a show. The tournament will consist of sixteen 155-pound competitors all looking for the $10,000 grand prize in the end, including submission bonuses ($1,000 per submission).

Going in, the clear favorite would have to be former lightweight World champion Celso Vinicius, based on his credentials and also the size advantage he is expected to have on the rest of the field (remember weigh-in is the day before). But at the same time, Celso’s NoGi game has not been tested in a long time, since he is known mainly as a Gi jiu-jitsu competitor.

Another favorite is Bruno Malfacine, but the question is, can the four-time roosterweight World champion stand tall with opponents that have a good-sized weight advantage on him?

Even though, to many, Ryan Hall may not be the clear-cut favorite, he mustn’t go overlooked because his credentials show that some of his best results come in NoGi events, such as ADCC and the NoGi Worlds. The 2009 ADCC bronze medalist is coming in with confidence after finishing up his training with Marcelo Garcia for the event and is looking to make a statement.

Another participant that people tend to overlook too much is Lovato Jr.’s black belt NoGi World champion Justin Rader. Rader comes in with a difficult game to handle, as his wrestling looks to be the best in the tournament, so don’t count him out. He could steal the show.

Another high profile name that should be interesting to check out is Mike Fowler. Although Fowler has not been in the competition scene in the past few years, he cannot be taken lightly. Do not forget that Fowler is an ADCC veteran and holds wins over Renzo Gracie and Saulo Ribeiro (both of whom he defeated in consecutive matches at ADCC 2007).

Although I’ve only mentioned a few of the competitors, that doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t surprise everyone and make a run for the $10,000 “light at the end of the tunnel.” Mark Ramos is an ADCC veteran and a multiple-time NoGi World champion, while Reily Bodycomb has some of the best leglocks in the game and is sure to give someone a scare with his heel hook attacks, so who knows? Anyone can take this event!

In the end though (and if the brackets are released as expected), Celsinho Vinicius and Ryan Hall are my picks to make the finals, with Hall taking the cash prize home. When it’s all said and done, I believe it will come down to Ryan’s flexible guard and diverse leglocks against Celso’s passing pressure and endurance.

So there is my take on the event. Who do you think will reach the finals, and who do you think will come away with the $10,000 in cash? Comment below and let yourself be heard! Osss!

Photo: Celsinho Vinicius (via Facebook)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor
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Gianni Grippo is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Marcelo Garcia and trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York City. Besides being a big fan of the sport, Gianni is also an avid competitor and has ranked among the best in the World from blue to brown belt winning 6 IBJJF World titles and 7 Pan Championships. Still at 21, Gianni looks to continue to compete for many years to come as his main goals are to win the World championships at black belt and win the ADCC title.