TWO QUALIFIERS LEFT!!! That’s it. Two shots at making the regular season roster for the Professional Grappling Federation (PGF). Brandon Mccaghren, the COMMISH, has confirmed the Men’s Roster will include 24 individuals; the Ladies’ Roster, eight individuals. That’s right, the Commish has confirmed – the LADIES’ SEASON IS A GO!!!! For a bit, the Ladies’ season was in doubt, but the interest shown at the Nashville qualifier cemented the season. The ladies came out with passion and conviction. They put on some great matches and showed us why they deserved their season.
The mechanics of the Quintet-style season are still being ironed out. The current plan is for all four teams to have six male competitors and two female competitors. When the teams face off, only men will face men and ladies will face ladies. No intergender matches. All members of a team can earn points towards the team’s point totals, but we are unsure how it will exactly work regarding possible team points. Regardless, anyone who knows anything about the PGF knows it will be FIRE!!!!
Okay, the main point of this post is to just catch everyone up on the rosters. So let’s get after it…
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Decatur AL back on March 5 – Tara Larosa, Triangle Jiu Jitsu (Royce Gracie). I could say a lot about Tara, but I already did in another post. Check it out for some background on a legend.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Jacksonville, FL back on April 16 – Brianna Parocha, 10P JAX. So, the first of the #powercouples. Brianna has a burgeoning competitive career with multiple matches online. Manning Leverett (season 3 alumn and season 4 at-large bid owner) is her boyfriend – leading the PGF Insiders to label them as the first power couple.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Chattanooga, TN back on May 28 – Emily “Cyanide” Hauser, Combat Performance. Cyanide is an instructor and recently became a member of the USA Grappling National team. She’s about that fighting life and has some great vlogs about her competitions and cooking. At 135lb, she’s a problem for folks. Relentless and determined, she will find a way to win.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Nashville, TN on on July 30 – Anna Cononge, 10th Planet Atlanta. Folks knew the Trapplegate (Sean Applegate, head of 10P Atlanta) brown belt would be a force in the bracket. She lived up to the expectations. Anna showed great skill, strategy, strength, and poise. In the end, she prevailed in a nearly one-hour submission only match to determine the qualifier winner. If that win doesn’t give her confidence going into the season, nothing will.
- Kaida Davis, Derby City MMA. Owner of the first Baratoplata submission in PGF history, Kaida is straight DANGEROUS. She’s hunting those submissions. Evan Dewitt, PGF Season 3 alumn, told BMAC Kaida was the toughest lady at Derby City MMA and one would have to believe he’s very, very right. In one of her first matches, Kaida had a nice ham sandwich setup, but failed to reinforce her foot, causing a possible LCL issue. Even with the injury, Kaida kept fighting on the mats. One has to wonder, if she had not hurt her knee, would she have been the overall victor? Kaida now has two months to heal and show she can win it all in the PGF regular season.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Atlanta, GA coming up on August 20 – tbd.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Asheville, NC coming up on September 10 – tbd.
Yeah, that’s right. There’s ONLY ONE AT-LARGE SPOT LEFT!!!! If a lady wants to be in the PGF regular season, she needs to go win one of those two remaining qualifiers. Resting on one’s laurels, hoping to get the last at-large bid is not a good idea. Hope is not a course of action, folks.
But, let’s quickly talk about who may be the possible at-large spot. Here’s a few ideas:
- Liz Bailey, 10th Planet Decatur. New to the competition scene, Liz Bailey showed it’s her element. She showed us many weapons she can bring to the PGF and handled herself well against very tough opponents. Due to her inexperience on the competition scene, she seemed to rush some situations, leading to a loss of position or the setup for a submission. Luckily for Liz, her coach was watching everything and will be able to help her fine tune her game for subsequent qualifiers and possibly the PGF regular season.
- Kuline Wendling, BASE BJJ. WOW! Kuline is the female Matthew Boiles – in that SHE IS THE STORM! Kuline will not let her competitors rest for one second. She has an insane motor and keeps bringing it to her opponents. Her IG handle is KulineMachine and it fits. Then, you consider what a beast she is and find out she’s a pharmacist!?!?! Are you kidding me? She’s wicked smart and super tough. She’s only a white belt, but with her smarts and grit – she WILL be a problem for someone in the PGF.
- Paola Gibbs, Nomad Jiu Jitsu in Lynchburg, VA. She’s an instructor at Forge Jiu Jitsu in Chatham, VA. Fans of the PGF might recognize Paola from the comments section as she was a very vocal fan in seasons 2 and 3. Of course, she was supporting her husband Joshua “Full Time” Gibbs. Going up against Cyanide, it seemed Paola was a little undersized. She’s got fire in her, but I’m unsure if she has the size to upset someone already on the roster.
- Madison Master, One Nation Jiu Jitsu. She participated in both the first Decatur qualifier and the Nashville qualifier. She’s definitely game and showing up to multiple qualifiers
- Jacquelyn Longar, 10P Crystal City. Jacquelyn is the co-owner of 10P Crystal City. She’s a bit undersized, weighing in closer to 115 than 135, but she definitely showcased some great skill. Ultimately it seemed like the size discrepancy might have got in her headspace. Her husband, Eric Longar (co-owner and PGF Seasons 1 and 3 alumni) might need to hit another qualifier himself. Looking at the distance, they may choose the Atlanta qualifier. If so, we could have a better understanding if Jacquelyn and Eric deserve at-large bids.
- RETURNING CHAMP: David “Quadzilla” Evers, 10P Huntsville (before he moved back to Texas). The champ has said he will be able to make it to Season 4. He was a little spark plug beast at 170, you have to believe his crazy sticky grips and strength will only be that much stronger at 155. I think everyone needs to follow Marcelo Garcia’s advice and just not let him get a hold of your legs.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: 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.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: 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.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: 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.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: 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 beltpurple belt (it’s really frustrating when guys get promoted in between blog posts). So he could be a standout bluepurple belt for the season.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: 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.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Decatur, AL #2 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.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Nashville, TN on July 30 – Dane Leak, Clinch MMA out of Owasso, Oklahoma. Leak has multiple wins at ADCC trials and won the PGF Season 3 Austin qualifier. He missed out on making the season finale tournament, but now at what’s probably his true weight class Leak should be a force this season.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sampson Phommabout, the traveling samurai of the Nashville qualifer. Sampson is a pro mma fighter that also owns a barbershop. He stalks his prey and with determination and economy of motion. He’s going to be dangerous.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Atlanta, GA coming up on August 20 – tbd.
- QUALIFIER WINNER: Asheville, NC coming up on September 10 – tbd.
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):
- 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.
- 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! I have a >90% confirmation he’ll be at the Atlanta qualifier. Kai is phenomenal and will show out. I would bet $100 he gets an at-large bid if he doesn’t win the qualifier.
- 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. He doesn’t have an entry into the Atlanta qualifier yet, but those 10P ATL guys have been sneaky in the past, trying to not let folks know they would show up.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Alex Hall, Ironclad 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Carson Thigpen, Renzo Gracie Nashville. He was the runner up at the Cincy Qualifier and showed some serious skill at the Nashville Qualifier. As the Commish said, if Carson is on the mat, there’s going to be a finish. Thigpen is either taking someone’s leg or getting submitted. There’s a real chance he could get dunked on, but also a real chance he could get an upset like he did against Mario Gaor in the first round of the Nashville Qualifier. I think Thigpen, with his style and multiple qualifier appearances has a very good shot at an at-large bid.
- Juan Martinez V, Childress BJJ. Juan is the head instructor at a school in Pueblo, Colorado! What’s possibly more impressive is he’s the head instructor while his father is just an instructor – who’s daddy now? Juan showed some great jiu jitsu, taking out tough opponents. There was some saltiness in the chat from Juan fans when he lost the decision to Evan Dewitt. I trust the Commish and believe in his decision. If anything, I hope Juan decides to enter the Atlanta qualifier (Delta hub, c’mon man) and ply his trade against the stacked roster who will probably show up. Juan is exactly the type of competitor the PGF wants – the guy who comes in and is representing his school (Street Fighter style). Again, I hope he hits another qualifier. While he showed some great jiu jitsu, currently our sample size is probably too small to warrant an at-large bid.
Okay, between talking smalk on the PGF season 4 chat and other hullaballoo, it’s too late to spend too much time wrapping things up. I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.
I can’t say it enough: if you’re a competitor and don’t have an invite in hand – GO TO ANOTHER QUALIFER!!! The Commish values loyalty very highly. Showing up to multiple qualifers weighs heavily in his decision. But you also have to provide a story. Imagine you’re in a movie, play, book, etc. What is your character arc? It might seem weird, but the PGF is a competition but also media. Be ready to show how you can grow, face a conflict, etc. Why should “the peoples” buy into you and become your fan?
Ok, soap box rant done. Please know I’m a huge fan of all the competitors. Just going on those mats takes courage. I’m only three weeks back from my latest (5th) knee surgery and I relish the chance to hit the mats in competition like you. You are the competitor in the arena and deserve all the credit. Please take all my commentary (even the smack talk) as praise because you stepped up and gave us something to watch and talk about.
Folks, the PGF Regular Season is almost here. I hope you’re pumped just like me. Hell, the Nashville Qualifier was so fire, the PGF Insiders had to have a special edition. So, be sure to check out the final two qualifier and consider making the pilgrimage to Decatur, AL for the regular season 25-29 October. Last season was an insanely fun time – you won’t regret attending.