1. A solid understanding of the positional leg locking game is no longer a magic bullet to get the win but it is required if you don’t want to quickly lose.
Last year the Danaher Death Squad burst onto the scene dominating various submission only events with an impressive array of leg locks and entanglements. Their repeated successes, often against much more experienced grapplers, demonstrated the efficiency and effectiveness that a positional and control based approach to leg locking can achieve. At the time the DDS, and those that choose to emulate them, looked unstoppable.
Fast forward 18 months and you could instantly tell which athletes had done their homework and which had not. Leg locking continued to play a significant role but typically only resulted in a finish against those who had clearly not made a significant study of the game. Those who had were able to use the threat of the leg attack in order to work for positional advantage or even initiate upper body submissions.
2. The clinch and takedown skills on display were lightyears ahead of where they were in 2015.
At ADCC Beijing the majority of athletes could competently execute various throws and takedowns but no one really displayed fully integrated stand up and ground games. This year however nearly all the champions – particularly JT Torres, Andre Galvao and Cobrinha – demonstrated tight, technical wrestling which they used to great effect in achieving victory.
3. Holy shit – Craig Jones everyone.
4. Xandes still got it.
Before this year’s ADCC there were rumours that Xande might be retiring from competition after the tournament finished. If that’s true he may be rethinking after his performance. He locked up three armbars against highly dangerous wrestlers using traditional set ups from closed guard, fought Gordon Ryan to what was essentially a draw and took a much heavier Buchecha into overtime wearing him out so much that he became easy pickings in his following match.
5. Gordon Ryan’s game was exceptionally well rounded and on point.
Gone are the days of being able to accuse Gordon Ryan – or any other member of the Danaher Death Squad for that matter – as being a one trick pony. In addition to his usual spectacular leg locking skills Gordon demonstrated a series of solid takedowns, passes and upper body submissions to leave no doubt that, at least without the gi, he is the complete package.
6. Nicky Ryan is going to be terrifying.
At 16 years old he’s taking on grown men who have a minimum of ten kilos weight advantage, are world class competitors in their own right and he’s making them work. In six years this kid will be making his brother look like an amateur by comparison.
7. Galvao continues to be able to reinvent his game and dominate.
Andre Galvao’s victory over Claudio Calasans makes him the first three time ADCC Superfight champion and brings his total of ADCC titles to five overall. Even more impressive is Galvao’s ability to reconfigure his game to take advantage of rulesets or particular opponents. Andre pulled guard throughout the majority of his matches this year but for his match against Calasans – a highly ranked Judoka – he scored the majority of his points via takedowns from the clinch.
8. Cobrinha is simply amazing.
At 37 years old Cobrinha became the first person to win a Super Grand slam as he secures his fifth major title this year when he took out the ADCC under 66kg division without a single point scored against him. It’s weird that this level of domination is now just expected of Cobrinha – so much so that practically no one is talking about it.
9. Please add another women’s weight division.
Being limited to over and under 60kg is just ridiculous. There are more than enough elite female grapplers in the world to add at least a sub 80kg division. Create more opportunities for highly skilled women to compete results in more highly skilled women competitors.