DISCLAIMER: This advice is just that, advice by a blue belt fan of the PGF. I make no promise of helping you win the $1,000. Also, McWhorter, you are banned from reading this blog. I’m still a little salty from you using my analysis to edge me out last year (just kidding, bud. best of luck!). Okay, now onto the monologue:
I’m a Professional Grappling Federation (PGF) superfan; a super fanatic. I’ll admit it. The PGF premiered a handful of months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us were sidelined in our locations – we couldn’t train. We were not seeing competitions, etc. But, here came a revolutionary idea for a grappling league. So many of us were sidelined due to the pandemic, but we had 4+ hours of community on Friday nights as we shared in the live comments, interacted with the commentators, reveled in the highs and lows of the competitors we to know, and overall had something to be enthusiastic about when so many other things were not so great throughout the land. For many of us, jiu jitsu is the best medicine. It’s meditation in motion. It’s the calm (even while folks are trying to choke us) that helps us weather the rest of life’s complications. For those of us who could not train due to orders, family health issues, etc., the PGF was the methadone for our jiu jitsu addiction. Reveling in the mastery of Elijah Carlton, Nilo Burgener, Jonathan “Elbow Genie” Roberts, etc., we could also cheer on our favorite underdogs (Noah Randolph, Seth Tatum, Dallas Sharp). Even as we toiled in our normal jobs, we had the promise of Friday nights and the diversion of contemplating which competitors to put on our fantasy teams. So, yeah, I’m a PGF superfan. It’s meant a lot to me in the last year. I even bought this domain name and website hosting just so I could have some fun going back to my old journalism roots (probably before many of you were born), to have some fun writing about something I enjoyed. On the eve of the second season of the PGF, I’d like to thank Brandon “BMAC” Mccaghren, Conscious Keelan, Lindsey Mccaghren, Matt Skaff, and all the competitors for the great times we’ve all had watching the PGF and the great times we’re assuredly going to have with this season’s shows. The next paragraph will be my standard Mat Viper plug – they’ve been a huge help to the PGF as I understand it (still waiting for the PGF hoodie – I need another hoodie, bud).
If you haven’t already, consider supporting Mat Viper, the folks that brought us the PGF rashguards. The official rashguards are available at https://matviper.com/collections/rash-guards/products/pgf-official-blue-rash-guard (you can follow the link to find the orange one). I finally snagged one of their sweet PGF t-shirts –(https://matviper.com/collections/tops/products/the-official-pgf-t-shirt). IT IS DOPE as the man-child (my teenage who is bigger than me) would say. I didn’t realize it was going to be in rashguard-like material, but I really like it. It’s a very nice shirt to use for training or as a more athletic undershirt for a polo-type shirt (I have to wear that stuff out in town, don’t ask).
Now on to the analysis:
For your consideration, each fantasy team has 7 possible spots with a total salary cap of $120 for the week. Any left-over funds do not carry over to the next week. I would normally do my analysis for each player after their name and salary cap amount. However, since the first week of season 2 of the PGF only has one match for each competitor, I’m going to list the competitors (sorted by price), then cover the matches below that listing. While one could hypothetically maximize their chances at success at playing all 7 roster spots, we often found during season 1 that sacrificing a roster spot to secure more “sure things” was the way to go.
SUPER PREMIUMS (you’re going to offset the expense by dropping a roster spot)
Elijah “the Bad Guy” Carlton (brown) – $25
Sam “the Nice Guy” Barbosa (brown) – $24
Hunter Colvin (black) – $20
Matt “the Mane/Fade” Elkins (brown) – $20
Stephen “the Spoiler” Eakin (black) – $20
Jake Elkins (purple) – $17
Kemoy “RatedR/the Bully” Anderson (brown) – $17
James Regina (purple) – $15
Joshua Gibbs (purple) – $15
Kevin “Liquid Terminator/Pete Rose” Primeau (purple) – $15
“MEGA” Mike Johnson (purple)- $15 – aka the world’s most mysterious man
Zack “Squidbilly” Edwards (brown) – $15
PENNY STOCKS (NOT LIKELY TO MAKE YOU MUCH, BUT IF YOU HAVE MONEY LEFT IN YOUR POCKET…)
Evan “8 Mile” Stapler (blue) – $12
Randy “Blue Blood/NHS” Roden (blue) – $12
Grayson “Southern Samurai” Webster (blue) – $10
Justin “Judo” Williams – $10
SCHEDULE FOR WEEK 1:
PGF Week 1 Matchups:
1. Elijah “the Bad Guy” Carlton vs Grayson “Southern Samurai” Webster – DUNK – Elijah gets the 7. Grayson Webster seems like a really cool guy. His Dad is a martial arts beast who like to do forms in the snow (true story). Still, Grayson’s main focus is his more traditional martial arts. He just got his blue belt recently. Elijah is a killer. He eats blue belts for breakfast (still, much love Grayson, I’m a blue belt as well, even calling my fantasy team “Blue Belts Are People Too”). But, this match was meant to make a splash and it will.
2. James Regina vs Kemoy “RatedR/the Bully” Anderson – Oooh interesting. Both these competitors are new to me. I only have tape of one Regina match. He seems to be a big leg locker/rubber guard guy (huge limbs being 6’5”), but Kemoy is a BEAST. Both have fought MMA. But, seeing Kemoy go against other 10th Planet competitors from the team duels makes me think he’ll win. Kemoy also has six (6!) fights in the Fight to Win promotion in the last year – he’s game and focusing on jiu jitsu now. While Kemoy seems like he loves to tear off folks’ arms and take them home (kimuras everywhere), I think he might find a way to a kill with his bullying pressure.
3. Matt “the Mane/Fade” Elkins vs Randy “Blue Blood” Roden – Roden wrestled for Duke (D1/AAC). He’s obviously a smart guy, getting into Duke and being a NHS scholar in high school (as well as being undefeated his junior and senior years in high school). The Mane (dammit, why did you get a haircut?) has the better jiu jitsu as a brown belt and has great wrestling of his own (co-owner of Ironclad Wrestling and wrestled in college as well). Elkins should know how to get the kill; he rattled off 11+ in a row after a rough first week in PGF season 1. Still, Roden is game. Everyone associated with the PGF says to watch out for him. He’s a D1 wrestler and works as a wrestling coach at a BJJ school. I have to think Roden might just pull off the upset (no, not winning), he may force Elkins to not get any points. I have concerns here and my concerns make the premium $20 price for Elkins a questionable investment. I’m all about Elkins, but I’ll admit I’m hesitating until I see Roden’s game (and it’s a salary cap issue).
4. Evan “8 mile” Stapler vs Hunter Colvin – Colvin is better known for his leg locks than chokes. Still, we have the most pedigreed PGF competitor, a black belt, against a blue belt. C’mon. Again, we have a designed dunk to open the competition. Stapler allegedly has killer cardio, so he may be able to make Colvin work for it, but the Colvin’s getting the kill. This prediction doesn’t keep me from listening to Stapler’s music video daily (ok, maybe multiple times a day – seriously, it’s a masterpiece).
5. Jake Elkins vs Justin “Judo” Williams – I’m a big fan of judokahs. One of my main training partners when I first started bjj was a brown belt in judo – a great guy (cheers to you Armbar/Otter!). Judokahs do practice ground fighting or Newaza as they call it; they’re normally great at arm bars (think Ronda Rousey). Still, Jake is a beast. He’s a high-caliber wrestler and purple belt under BMAC (which says a lot because 10th Planet Decatur is self-admittedly stingy with the promotions). Jake took down a Gracie black belt in the semifinals of the inaugural 225 lb bracket. I think Jake’s taking down this judokah with a kill.
6. Mega Mike Johnson vs Samuel “the Nice Guy” Barbosa – Mega Mike Johnson is a social media black hole. He’s got that stuff on lockdown. He doesn’t have any searchable matches. All I know is he’s a purple belt from SBG in Birmingham and is very strong. From the promo videos, you can see him and he is built like Kirby Puckett (old school Minnesota Twins baseball player – or as my dad would say “like a spark plug”); basically ole boy has no neck and is thicc as the kiddos would say. While Mega is strong, Sam is renowned as ridiculously strong. During an interview of Barbosa in which I participated, I had issues resolving the Nice Guy he clearly is with the BEAST he turns into when competing. Sam suggests he may have some demons in there – well, those demons are going to propel him to a kill here. Sam might need a little time, but I’m thinking the promoters scheduled another dunk to kick things off.
7. Joshua Gibbs vs Kevin “Liquid Terminator” Primeau – I used to call Primeau the Pete Rose of the PGF because for a while in season one he was leading the fantasy standings. Of course, it was all live so it was fair-ish. Now, he can’t participate since he knows many of the outcomes of matches. And, to be fair, allegedly he’s the “liquid terminator” because he sweats a lot – as another aside that’s kind of the way many aviator callsigns are made (even the cool ones are actually a dig at the pilot – I knew a pilot with the callsign “Virus” which sounds pretty b.a. but then he told me it was because he was sick a lot as a young pilot). Okay, enough preamble, Primeau is a pressure/Sao Paolo passing monster. Gibbs is a purple belt, but with a solidly traditional, mostly gi bjj background. I can only find two Gibbs competition videos, both no gi, but neither seem to suggest he can stand up to Primeau. Seriously, Primeau went for 1:10 (that’s one hour, 10 minutes plus) in the PGF season 1 final playoffs/tournament. Primeau knows the scoring/the game; he gets the kill and is a bargain.
8. Zack “Squidbilly” Edwards vs Stephen “the Spoiler/the Dream” Eakin – Very interesting. Eakin said words to the effect at the beginning before the match both of them agreed to not hurt each other. That acknowledgement shows respect for the capabilities of each other. Edwards is a self-admitted leg-locker. He sells out for leg locks. Edwards received his brown belt in 3 years (RIDICULOUS) from 10th Planet Bethlehem – the folks who brought us Jon “Thor” Blank and Grace Gundrum (two HUGE name in bjj). 10th Planet Bethlehem folks know their leg locks. On the other hand, Eakin is one of two black belts in this competition (seriously, when is someone going to give Elijah his black belt?). Eakin received his black belt from 10th Planet San Diego (the Freaks) head Richie “Boogeyman” Martinez. The FREAKS are known for their ridiculous leg lockers as well. I have to think Eakin will be able to defense Edwards’ leg locks. Does Eakin get the kill? I think it’s very possible. Eakin in his podcasts and on his Facebooks seems very happy/proud with how PGF season 2 finished. Still, this match has too many variables involved for me to make a bet on either of these guys (especially in this matchup) just yet.