The Professional Grappling Federation (PGF) brings fans the most exciting submission grappling in a league format using a unique scoring format to force the action.  In the regular season, competitors amass points only through submissions in their six-minute matches. Breaks (armbars, leg locks, etc.) earn three points; Kills (chokes), earn six points. Competitors who score a submission in less than one minute earn a bonus point.  The PGF was the first jiu jitsu promotion to integrate a pre-season, regular season, and post-season.  To be eligible for selection to the regular season roster, prospective competitors MUST participate in at least one pre-season qualifier.  The qualifiers are single-elimination tournaments where competitors progress via submission or Commish decision (based on who’s the most exciting).  In season 3 and going forward, the regular season is all live-streamed via YouTube, beginning with the combine and draft, and includes four days (Monday – Thursday) of matches.  The competitors receive a day of rest on Friday, and the post-season finale tournament is held on Saturday.  During the post-season finale tournament, the top eight competitors compete in Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI) rules matches until the final match which is a pure submission-only, no-time-limit match. To “win” the PGF, a competitor must master three different rule sets – there is no hiding behind a single strategy. A would-be PGF winner knows they have to be exciting; they have to attack and defeat their opponents to be crowned the champ.

For fans especially, besides the high level of action forced by the nature of the short six-minute matches and unique scoring rules of the PGF, the PGF promises some of the best interaction available. Conscious Keelan revolutionized the competitive jiu jitsu broadcast game, bringing the mobile platform enabled by cameras on gimbles.  No longer stuck on a single shot, fans could see the action from all angles as the camera person flowed around the grapplers so fans could see all the details.  Just as the fans could see all the details, the PGF incorporates highly skilled commentators to describe the action seen by the fans, using both their live views and the views seen by the fans.  Finally, since the PGF is live-streamed on YouTube, fans get the ultimate interactive experience being able to converse with each other and with the commentators through the chat feature.  The people get to send tips to their favorite grapplers via superchats, get to help make rule decisions (e.g. whether the twister is a kill or a break), and generally get to comment and go back and forth with the commentators on the action.  The PGF provides the most immersive and community-oriented promotion in this space.

Taking a cue from other sports, the PGF has added additional layers of interest and interaction for fans. From the beginning, PGF has been the first jiu jitsu league to integrate a fantasy league. Fans use a budget to build their team of grapplers each night in the hopes of winning the fantasy championship. To help fans stay informed win PGF news and set their fantasy lineups, the PGF Insiders (Walo, migE, Chris, and Egghead Warrior) host a Youtube show/podcast. BJJ365’s other podcasts (Around the Mat; and Brandon and Lindsey Have a Podcast Now) also discuss PGF news. Finally, Egghead Warrior hosts a blog where he provides news and PGF fantasy analysis.

The PGF is about to enter it’s fourth season, featuring men’s 155 lb and under and women’s 135 lb and under competitors. Season 4 will feature 10 different qualifiers, culminating in the regular season going from 23-29 October 2022.  As we are about to embark on this fourth season, it would be good to look back at the history of the PGF:

Brandon Mccaghren (BMAC), a black belt under Eddie Bravo, began the PGF to normalize competition for his students and as a project during the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. BMAC knew to be a great competitor, his students needed repetitions in competing in general (not just on the mats, but the routine, mindset, etc. around the competition). Having been around the jiu jitsu game for a while, BMAC wanted to tweak the normal competition rules to incentivize passing the guard and submissions. So, each competitor in the PGF gains in the rankings by accumulating points for submissions: originally seven points for a kill (choke) and three points for a break (any joint lock). If any match ended without a submission, the result was each competitor lost the chance to gain points via submission – meaning a draw was an outcome. This scoring scheme led to action-packed matches where competitors not only hunted for submissions but actively tried to pass guards to get chokes.

PGF Season 1 had a close-knit feel, with the competitors traveling to 10th Planet Decatur each Friday for a live-streamed show. Being live, the viewers could interact in real-time with the commentators, 10th Planet Decatur Black Belts Lindsey Mccaghren and Matt Skaff, and each other. In the first season, the fans of the competitors and viewers who found the show via algorithms built a community around a shared appreciation for jiu-jitsu.  Elijah “the Bad Guy” Carlton became the Royce Gracie of the PGF in Season 1.  He went 24-0 combined in the regular season and finale tournament, all via submission, to win the inaugural season of the PGF.

For the second season, BMAC broadened the scope of competitors, seeking folks from far away states. To enable engaging a higher level of competitor from farther away, BMAC morphed the PGF season from 12 weeks into a seven-day gauntlet. With most folks being able to get off work for a week, the PGF was able to garner competitors from Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, etc. Due to constraints, the PGF filmed the entire regular season during that week and released the footage in two-block (a block was roughly a match for each competitor) segments each week. They then had their post-season tournament a few months after initial filming. While the production quality was very high, the fans missed the opportunity to interact with the commentators, live spectators, and competitors.  Hunter “the Professional” Colvin went on to win PGF Season 2 – serving as the only individual to ever beat Elijah “the Bad Guy” Carlton in the PGF.  Colvin’s patented rolling kimura allowed him to pass Carlton’s guard and secure submissions.

Season 3 combined the best of both seasons 1 and 2. The regular season ran from 9-15 January 2022. The 9th had the ceremonial weigh-ins and combine (including a coaches’ challenge which featured the most hyped Connect Four games in memory).  The 10th included the draft and first rounds of matches. The 11th-13th concluded the remaining regular-season matches. The 14th was a rest day. Then, Saturday the 15th was the post-season tournament. Season 3 also included a pre-season comprised of qualifiers where interested grapplers vied for a chance to be on Season 3. The qualifiers streamed live and are still available on BMAC’s YouTube channel. For the qualifiers, the PGF leadership help tournaments in Decatur, AL; Louisville, KY; Fort Myers, FL; Atlanta, GA; Jacksonville, FL; and Austin, TX. The qualifiers served to expose multiple markets to the PGF and to provide opportunities for the PGF to enlist top grapplers from many geographical areas. All told, BMAC took the six qualifier winners and 18 other grapplers who had competed in the qualifiers or had other experiences with the PGF.  Also of note, two new public participants of the production joined the fray in Season 3 – Stephen Eakin (Season 2 alumn) served as the ring announcer, affectionately called “Bobby Boffufum”; and Egghead Warrior served as the third wheel at the commentary table.  Eakin and Egghead also participated in pre-show and post-show content.  Elijah “the Bad Guy” Carlton returned to win the PGF Season 1 regular season, submitting all opponents save two draws.  Due to injuries, Elijah had to drop out of the post-season tournament.  With Elijah out, it was any of the remaining top eight competitors’ game.  David “Quadzilla” Evers put on a show in the post-season tournament, earning quick submissions in all his matches to earn the rights to PGF Season 3 champion and a brown belt.  However, perhaps most importantly about Season 3 was the FAN DRIVEN, Such n Such sponsored, BATTLERAMA!!!  Four competitors for Season 3 were chosen in the last round of the draft and served as replacement players for any member of their teams who were unable (or chose not) to compete.  These four faced the possibility of not competing at all despite traveling and giving up their normal work for a week.  The people in the live chat banded together and made a special tournament for the replacements, called BATTLERAMA!  Between the people in the chat and PGF sponsor Such n Such (get those drunken waffle fries), the replacements fought for a chance to win $1,000.  In perhaps the most exciting match of the season, Josh “Full Time” Gibbs defeated Matthew Boiles to win the BATTLERAMA. 

As stated above, Season 4 is COMING SOON!  Season 4 will include male competitors under 155 lb, which could easily include Season 3 post-season tournament champion David “Quadzilla” Evers, finale competitors Kevin Beuhrik, Mario Gaor, and other alumni including Evan “Mr. Irrelevant” Dewitt (it’s only love and motivation bud), Eric Longar, Keahi, Louis Collins, etc. Rumor has it renowned competitors Keith Krikorian and Jordan Holy will be entering qualifiers for their shot at the PGF. The Qualifiers will be held at 10th Planet Decatur (5 March); 10th Planet Jacksonville (16 April); Queen City Grappling Club, Middletown, OH (7 May); Agoge Combatives, Chattanooga, TN (28 May); Ironclad Wrestling, Birmingham, AL (        11 June); The Grounds MMA Academy, Fort Myers, FL (25 June); 10th Planet O’Fallon, IL (16 July); One Nation Jiu Jitsu, Smyrna, TN (30 July); 10th Planet Atlanta (20 August); Rogue Combat Club, Asheville, NC (10 September). The regular season and post-season tournament will occur from 23-29 October in Decatur, AL.  

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