PGF Season 4 Qualifiers: Win or Go Home!

Just a quick update for the PGF fans…this last Saturday’s second Decatur PGF Season Qualifier was awesome! Lots of exciting matches, with a vast majority of matches ending in submissions. I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page with the competitor situation – specifically, who’s in and how many spots are left. Not to bury the lead, THERE’S ONLY 5 SPOTS LEFT!!! WITH THREE QUALIFIERS LEFT, THAT MEANS THERE’S ONLY TWO (2) AT-LARGE ROSTER SPOTS AVAILABLE!!! With the talent that’s come through the qualifiers this season, it really is a “win or go home” situation for anyone who hasn’t already earned an invite.

So far we’ve had 6 of the 9 qualifiers. For the rest of the post, I’m going to run down the roster as far as we know now, noting qualifier winners, at-large bid owners, and some possible at-large folks based on their performances so far.

Qualifier Winners:

  1. Decatur, AL back on March 5 – Reese LaFever, One Nation JJ (currently at New Wave JJ in Austin, TX) – busy, legit competitor who recently moved to Austin to learn from the best.
  2. Jacksonville, FL back on April 16 – Matthew Boiles, Scramble BJJ – What’s up Kara!?! Matty B wasn’t satisfied with an at-large bid from the Decatur qualifier so he went into 10P JAX and won. He’s added leg attacks to his heavy wrestling game. Matty B is the storm, serving a whirlwind of attacks on every competitor he faces. Very pumped to see how much Boiles improves even from the JAX qualifier to the season.
  3. Cincinnati, OH back on May 7 – Brandt Basaran, Indy Boxing and Grappling. This guy is an assassin. I don’t know much about his story, but he straight murdered the competition in Cincinnati. The Commish thinks Basaran has a real shot at winning this season.
  4. Chattanooga, TN back on May 28 – Maximus “Rock Troll” Jolly, Upper Cumberland MMA. The Rock Troll is also a killer. I’m pretty sure he took everyone’s legs home with him, then got on the microphone and called out everyone who’s ever wronged him…ever. He should be a lot of fun AND he’s a blue belt. So he could be the standout blue belt for the season.
  5. Fort Myers, FL on June 25 – Anthony Molina, 10P Miami. Molina is super confident and smooth. His movements on the feet make me think he’s done some boxing in the past. He said he wanted to secure some chokes to get into the PGF scoring strategy, but he’s known as the leg lock guy down at 10th Planet Miami. Molina is definitely going to be a problem for people this season.
  6. Decatur, AL #2 coming up on July 16 – Isaac Cordova, 10P Fullerton. A fairly high profile competitor on the national scene. Isaac should be the odds-makers’ favorite or at least in the top 3 preseason picks. There’s no way he goes beyond the first round. Also, he will be a guest on the PGF Insiders podcast on the BJJ 365 network this upcoming Friday (22 July) at 7:30 pm Eastern time or 4:30 pm Pacific time. If you want to get to know more about the most recent qualifier winner, pop into the chat and ask away.
  7. Nashville, TN coming up on July 30 – tbd.
  8. Atlanta, GA coming up on August 20 – tbd.
  9. Asheville, NC coming up on September 10 – tbd.

At-large Bid Owners (folks who have received an at-large bid from the Commish):

  1. Manning Leverett, 10P JAX. Manning came in second during the regular season of season 3. He’s a super well-rounded competitor, having a great standing game, top game, and leg locks. The Manaconda should be in the mix for the title this season for sure.
  2. Jacob Arp, Gracie JJ Savannah, a Pedro Sauer school/ formerly Scramble BJJ. We’ve seen him in multiple qualifiers. He always gives that high pace/energy performance that’s become the hallmark of Scramble BJJ and Wrestling. He called out his old teammate Matthew Boiles, so that should be a match to watch for sure.
  3. Raymond Paige, Rogue Wave Martial Arts. The third time at a qualifier was the charm. Raymond’s a purple belt and competes in MMA as well as jiu jitsu. It’ll be good to see him and Tyler Woolsey compete this year.
  4. Tyler Woolsey, Rogue Wave Martial Arts. Speaking of Tyler Woolsey, my tag for him has always been that he’s the truest expression of old school 10th Planet jiu jitsu (is that an oxymoron?). But seriously, looking forward to Woolsey showing his game. He was a lot of fun in season 3, but he was heavily outweighed by most competitors, limiting his game.
  5. Charles Muxo, Black Tie BJJ. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Muxo should be a great story. He has that Keahi character arc where we saw Muxo, who is undersized even at 155, in the qualifier last season and he’s made great strides in his jiu jitsu this season. Muxo could quickly become a fan favorite this season.
  6. Noah Randolph, 10th Planet Decatur. Noah’s a veteran of seasons 1 and 3. He’s the ninja choke master. The man who won’t breathe through his mouth or make facial expressions. The kid is dang good. I was willing to bet a lot he was in because the PGF Insiders knew he was in. Still, the Commish finally announced it officially after the second Decatur Qualifier concluded.
  7. TJ Steinbech, Gemini Fitness and Combat (Denver, CO). TJ was your runner-up at the second Decatur Qualifier. He used to train at 10P Denver with Conor Heun, then he opened up his own gym. He could give the old Knee Barrista (Jeremy Geiger from Season 1) a run for his money on the old knee bar submission.
  8. Jacob Mashburn, (RAM) Renaissance Martial Arts (Pedro Sauer Jiu Jitsu), a student of Caleb McAlister’s, Mashburn competed in both Decatur Qualifiers this year. In the first qualifier, he secured a win, but then got knocked out by Stephen Dana of 10th Planet Atlanta. Mashburn kept working and showed a great improvement in skill in the second Decatur qualifier, securing multiple wins, only losing to the eventual winner and runner-up. Add on a submission in a match during PGF Season 3’s finale and you have a talented, hungry grappler who has shown some serious dedication to the PGF.
  9. Wesley Carter, Queen City Grappling Club, a brown belt who was the PGF Season 3 Austin qualifier runner-up. In that qualifier, he took out PGF alumni Louis Collins and Matt “Scarecrow of Doom (SOD)” Harrison. At the second Decatur PGF Season 4 qualifier, Carter showed everyone he still had his warrior spirit. He split his two matches with PGF alumn Joe Kai, but won the second one to advance in the wrestle back tournament. Carter also took out Alex Hall who was a runner up at the Chattanooga qualifier.

Possible At-large folks (no particular order – but I will likely revamp the list in a future post that will be like my “Matology” posts from last season):

  1. Evan Dewitt, Queen City Grappling Club/Derby City MMA. Dewitt was the PGF Season 3 Louisville qualifier runner up. He earned an at-large spot for PGF Season 3. It was a real shock when the black belt was picked in the last spot for the active roster of a team (before the reserves). He quickly cut a promo/gave a soliloquy where he called out just about everyone picked ahead of him. It was a great moment. He started off well, but got a season-ending injury the first night when David “Quadzilla” Evers (the eventual post-season tournament champ) popped his ankle. Dewitt is now signed up for the Nashville qualifier and I really hope he wins, but there’s going to be some tough competition there. Carson Thigpen of Renzo Gracie Nashville who was the runner-up at the Cincy Qualifier is also signed up. Sam Acord of 10th Planet Atlanta (see below) who acquitted himself quite well in Chattanooga has thrown his hat in the Nashville qualifier ring as well. I stand by my word, Dewitt is one of the guys who made us push for a 155 lb season. He should be competing in Season 4.
  2. Joe Kai, 10th Planet Decatur – a black belt under the Commish, Kai is a PGF Season 1 vet and a PGF Season 2 commentator. He has a win in the longest match in PGF history (~75 minutes) and some of the most exciting submissions in PGF history (e.g. flying triangle). Kai has an exciting style and almost received an at large bid after the second Decatur qualifier. Honestly, I think we all want to see the rematch between Isaac Cordova and Joe Kai – that was a ridiculous match!
  3. Stephen Dana, 10th Planet Atlanta – runner up in the first Decatur qualifier. He had a great showing at the Austin qualifier in season 3. Sean Applegate at 10th Planet Atlanta just puts out killers.
  4. Eric Longar, 10th Planet Crystal City. Head of 10th Planet Crystal City, Longar is a vet of seasons 1 and 3. He nailed a sick peruvian necktie at the Decatur qualifier and is known for his excellent side-to-side passing. Season 4 was made for competitors like Longar, and the next few guys – PGF vets who showed great skill and grit, but were just a little too undersized in the previous seasons. I’d definitely like to see Eric get an invite.
  5. Josh Diaddario, 10th Planet Decatur. A vet of season 1 and a part of the 10th Planet production team (Josh is the best fog machine guy in the biz). I think he may be on the outside looking in on this one – my guess is the Commish might hold Josh in reserves in case anyone flakes or gets injured last minute. Since Josh is on staff at 10P Decatur, he would be an easy last minute filler.
  6. Mario Gaor, 10th Planet O’Fallon. Mario is a technician. The technique vids that Mario puts out (with Keahi behind the camera) are top notch. Mario and Keahi are both vets of season 1 and season 3. As I said with Eric Longar, this season was made for these guys. As a PGF super fan, I really want to see them back for season 4.
  7. Keahi Makekau, 10th Planet O’Fallon. See above. Keahi made a lot of improvements from season 1 to season 3. I imagine season 3 gave him a big boost. As someone who is plugged into the PGF, I’m sure he’s been working even harder since finding out this season was going to be at 155. I should note we haven’t seen Mario or Keahi at a qualifier yet. The qualifier at St Louis (their school) had to be moved to this upcoming Decatur one. They’ve definitely made the drive to Decatur before, but it’s a haul. Regardless, they need to make it to one of the qualifiers.
  8. Louis Collins, 10th Planet Muscle Shoals. Louis had some great matches in the Cincinnati qualifier, showing the grit for which he’s known. He’s a vet of seasons 1 and 3 and puts on great matches. I’d really like to see him in this season.
  9. Alex HallIronclad Wrestling. He was the runner up at the Chattanooga qualifier. He had some great matches and showed an exciting style. He could be a great addition to the PGF. If he goes to either the Nashville or Atlanta qualifier, he’s got a good shot at a bid.
  10. Sam Acord, 10th Planet Atlanta. Sam was having a great event at the Chattanooga qualifier until he ran into the buzz saw in the form of the Rock Troll. The Rock Troll gave Sam a good pop to his leg. Acord showed he was a warrior, continuing to compete, but with the injury he didn’t have enough to win. Mark Acord, Sam’s father, has been in the chat assuring us his son will be at the upcoming qualifiers to make sure he gets a spot. Given that Mark is a black belt and competitor himself, I’m going to believe him.
  11. Sleepy Billy Baxter, Inside Control Academy. Sleepy Billy put on a great display of jiu jitsu at the Fort Myers qualifiers. Ironically, if he had stayed after the show, he probably would’ve received an at-large bid. But to his credit, Sleepy Billy is already signed up for the Atlanta qualifier. Yes, Sleepy Billy is going into Sean Applegate’s lion’s den. If Sleepy Billy can put on a show there, he has a real shot at an invite.

In the near future, I will be doing more of a matology (my PGF take on bracketology) post where I will rate who I think should get the at-large bids. I’ll also be working on my draft post which will be in conjunction with the PGF Insider pre-draft show. But for now, I’ll just remind any would-be PGF Season 4 competitor – Sign Up and Win or Go Home!

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