Words

Art for Art’s Sake: Metamoris 5 Recap

Fightland Blog

By Nick "The Tooth" Gullo

Photos by Nick "The Tooth" Gullo

I woke Sunday morning with the sheet stuck to my face, and groping along the headboard for my phone, I found a torn napkin with blue ink blurred to the edges: 

“If art is mere mortals grasping for the heavens…”

Some drunken scribe had written, and below that:

 “… and jiu jitsu is the soul of MMA…”

But that was it. Curious, I checked my pockets, my wallet, even my shirt. No mas. The handwriting wasn’t even mine, so while I didn’t feel the burden of reconciling those two statements, I’d love to know how that went down.

Maybe they’re a tribute to Metamoris 5—which in itself is an artful, yet drunken attempt at pulling off the perfect submission grappling event. Which, in my opinion, is the highest of compliments to promoter Ralek Gracie.

J.T. Torres, watching his post-fight highlights on the big screen.

Personally, I love attending the live Metamoris tournaments. First and foremost, I love envisioning the schizoid match-ups of legend vs. legend, phenom jiu jitsu player vs. elite MMA fighter, catch wrestling vs. sambo, etc.

So I’m sitting front row downing drinks, next to Ottavia Bourdain, John Danaher and my friend Jesse, from Roots of Fight. And I’m marveling at the ancient dojo presentation: the raised mat under the spotlights, the drum circle thumping in the background, the massive screens projecting the action.

Keenan Cornelius attempting to pass Yuri Simoes's guard.

Everywhere I turn, it’s a gathering of the tribe: Eddie Bravo across the aisle, Lyoto Machida behind me, Rener Gracie three seats down. Same people you see at UFC events, but here it’s just grappling fanatics who’d never boo when a fight hits the canvas. I see many of them at the bigger jiu jitsu tournaments. But those are ten-hour sterile daylight affairs, more cattle call than art show.

Maybe that’s what the unknown scribe meant by: “If art is mere mortals grasping for the heavens…"

The legendary Sakuraba, back in the spotlight.

Either way, given the old-school feel I’m glad I brought along my vintage Nikon. Let’s me play the part of a fan capturing the original jiu jitsu matches back in pre-war Japan.

Renzo Gracie pacing backstage, minutes before facing Sakuraba.

All in all, the matches were good. For my part, I’d rather see more in the kimono, because, one, after a few minutes both competitors are sweating like mad, and it’s nearly impossible to catch a limb, and two, this event appeals mainly to practitioners of the art, not casual fans, and most practitioners train in a gi.

On the floor of the convention center lobby, 3x BJJ World Champion Fredson Paixao teaching his infamous wrist-locks to Eddie Bravo.

After the event a group of us hung out in the lobby, waiting for Vinny Magalhaes to wrap-up the post-fight presser. Given the drinks and boredom, before long Fredson Paixao (3x BJJ World Champion and MMA fighter) was on the lobby floor, holding Eddie Bravo in his guard, demonstrating his most painful wrist-locks.

J.T. Torres warming up with Garry Tonon

Then to the bar, where we watched side-by-side screens featuring the UFC Edgar vs Swanson card, and the Manny Pacquiao fight. From thereon the memories blur. This dude sat next to me and scrawled something on a napkin. Or maybe I was sitting next to a mirror. I really don’t recall.

Check out the gallery, and remember, it’s film, which despite how hard and high you grasp, well, sometimes reaching is the greatest reward. 

 

Check out these related stories:

Metamoris 5: Portraits After the Fight

A Shakespearian Saga: The Gracies, Sakuraba, and Metamoris

 

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