This past weekend’s Ultimate Absolute event was a painful one for me to cover. Watching from the outside hurt more than anything, knowing I could’ve been in there with all those great jiu-jitsu players, but that is for another time. What went down at Rob Constance’s second annual event was truly a spectacle for any and all jiu-jitsu fans. This 16-man division consisted of some of the best lightweights (155 pounds and below), and the athletes proved why they are considered the best around.

In today’s segment, we will look at the highlights in each round and go into as much detail as humanly possible. So here we go…

Round of 16

On Thursday when the brackets were released, there were a few eye-popping match-ups that everyone was anticipating, one being the match between Bruno Malfacine and Renan Borges. Although Malfacine was the lighter fighter, he came in as a favorite to possibly reach the finals, but Borges came in strong and was determined to thwart any of those thoughts. Renan used his weight well and was able to control the match from start to finish, displaying a great base and dominant guard passing skills. Borges would come away with a 5-0 win, and the first of the “favorites” was quickly eliminated.

Another surprising upset came when Ricardo Almeida brown belt Garry Tonon defeated former black belt Worlds medalist Jontas Gurgel. Tonon displayed a very fluid game and controlled the pace, winning by a 6-2 score. For the rest of the first round, the favorites had their way in making it to the round of eight.

First Round Summary:

Celso Venicius def. Mark Ramos via rear naked choke
Garry Tonon def. Jontas Gurgel via points (6 to 2)
Wilson Reis def. Denny Prokopos via points (26 to 2)
Renan Borges def. Bruno Malfacine via points (5 to 0)
Ryan Hall def. Ramon Flores via heel hook
Justin Rader def. Magno Gama via points (8 to 0)
Samuel Braga def. Joel Tudor (6 to 4)
Michael Fowler def. Reily Bodycomb via americana

Round of 8

In the second round of action, there was not a single submission, but that doesn’t mean there was any shortage of action. If anything, the action was even greater in the second round than it was in the first.

In the first quarterfinal match-up, Garry Tonon was able to put up a fight against “Celsinho,” but the three-time black belt World champ was too much and won in an exciting and acrobatic battle, 16-2.

Next, it was Renan Borges who would keep his dream alive of taking home the $10,000 first-place prize by defeating rising MMA star Wilson Reis by an 8-2 score, setting up an electrifying semifinal match-up with Venicius.

On the other side of the bracket, Ryan Hall and Justin Rader went to war in a closely contested affair. In the end, only two points were scored in the ten minutes of action when Rader scored a takedown and took the fight by a 2-0 score. In the beginning of the event, some thought of Rader as an “also-ran,” but now he was in the semifinals and had just beaten my favorite to win going in.

In the last quarterfinal bout, Samuel Braga and Mike Fowler fought to a 0-0 score through the end of regulation, giving the audience its first overtime action of the event. At the beginning of the OT, Fowler scored a sweep that woke up Braga, as the former roosterweight and light-featherweight World champion scored eight unanswered points and took the match 8-2.

Second Round Summary:

Celso Venicius def. Garry Tonon via points (16 to 2)
Renan Borges def. Wilson Reis via points (8 to 2)
Justin Rader def. Ryan Hall via points (2 to 0)
Samuel Braga def. Michael Fowler via points (8 to 2 OT)


In the first semifinal match, a rule that is different in the Ultimate Absolute than any other tournament played a big role in sending Celso Venicius to the finals. Caught in a triangle by Borges, Celso picked up the lighter Renan and slammed him to the mat, opening up the triangle. Renan, after the slam, appeared to be dazed and Celso took full advantage by passing the guard, back-mounting and finishing Borges with a rear-naked choke. Although it may be thought of as illegal, the rule states that it is in fact legal and Celso was granted his spot in the finals.

In the last semifinal match, in what many believed was the best match of the tournament, Justin Rader and Samuel Braga fought tooth and nail through ten minutes of regulation and two overtimes. Neither could break each other’s A-game for nearly 28 minutes of action until in the final moments of the second OT, Rader was able to get past Braga’s impassable guard and score three points to seal the win. Celso was next on Rader’s radar.

Semifinal Summary:

Celso Venicius def. Renan Borges via rear-naked choke
Justin Rader def. Samuel Braga via points (3 to 0 2-OT)


Two of the more physical Jiu-Jitsu players in the game would duke it out for $10,000 in the finale of this year’s Ultimate Absolute. Neither Celso nor Rader preferring to fight on bottom, it was a wrestling match-up throughout and remained standing till close to the end of the bout. Not too long from the end Celso would pull away, getting a takedown near the out-of-bounds area and securing mounted position. From then on, Celso would run up the score, winning the title 16-0.

Final Summary:

Celso Venicius def. Justin Rader via points (16 to 0)

Congrats to Celso Venicius for joining Andre Galvao, last year’s champion, as an Ultimate Absolute champion! The organization promises another event by the end of the year – what weight category should it be and who should be in it? Comment below and let us know. Oss!

Photo: Celsinho Venicius (L) and Justin Rader compete in the finals at Ultimate Absolute (Cristian Buitron/Graciemag International)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor

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.