Atlantic City based promotion puts on another stellar submission only jiu-jitsu event
With just a handful of professional events in the books, Emerald City Invitational has quickly become one of the premier events in submission grappling. Their 145 lb. tournament back in August 2021 produced some of the best no-gi matches of the year, including Estevan “The Giant Slayer” Martinez’s match with Cameron Mellot and Gianni Grippo’s finals match with Kennedy Maciel. This time, ECI brought the 155 pounders for the main showcase with Jon Calestine, Pedro Serrano, Gabriel Sousa, Adam Benayoun, Josh Cisneros, Jordan Holy, Kieran Kichuk, and 145 lb. champion Gianni Grippo vying for the title and $10,000. The card also featured super fights between some of the most promising female no-gi competitors as Jaidyn Mueller took on Chrissy Briggs and Izabella Frezzo faced Lauren Sears.
Emerald City uses EBI rules, a submission only ruleset with 10-minute rounds. The regulation period has no points and no advantages. If a submission is not achieved in regulation, the match will go to overtime where a competitor can start on their opponent’s back or in an armbar position where the opponent has his or her hands connected. An athlete can win either via submission or ride time, accumulated time in these dominant positions.
ECI IV was all about upsets. Gabriel Sousa and Josh Cisneros, both highly seeded competitors who’ve won big titles at black belt, went down in the first rounds. The two standouts from the 155 lb. bracket were Adam Benayoun and Kieran Kichuk. Benayoun, a Ryan Hall pupil, took out Gabriel Sousa in the opening round via rear naked choke in overtime. His second match was against Jon Calestine, a leg lock specialist with plenty of experience in the ruleset. This match also went to overtime, where Adam was able to win via ride time, holding the back position for longer than Calestine.
On the other side of the bracket, Kieran Kichuk of Team Lloyd Irvin had an equally impressive series of wins. In the first round he faced Josh Cisneros of Ares, one of the favorites coming into the event. Josh controlled the regulation portion of the match, catching Kieran in multiple kimura attacks while Kieran was playing reverse de la riva. Kieran showed great defense, however, and was able to push the match to overtime where he got the win via rear naked choke.
His semi-final match was against Gianni Grippo, who won the 145 lb. tournament back in August. The regulation period was close as both men spent time in top and bottom position but were unable to present any threatening submissions. In overtime, Kieran and Gianni showed great defense yet again. In a sequence where Gianni looked like he was about to escape the back, Kieran locked in a kimura that he turned into an armbar, getting the finish and his shot at $10,000.
The final was yet another match where neither could find a submission in regulation. Kieran was looking for leg locks for much of the match while Adam showed great awareness and defense. In the over time rounds, Kieran and Adam showed that they were well prepared foe the ruleset. Adam escaped Kieran’s back control in the first round and Kieran answered back with an escape of his own. In the second overtime round Kieran secured a rear naked choke in 17 seconds, forcing Adam to finish Kieran in less time. Adam chose the armbar position and Kieran escaped as Adam had to rush his attack. Kieran Kichuk came away with the $10,000 and the Emerald City Invitational 155 lb. title despite having to earn his way to the event via a qualifying tournament rather than being invited.
In one of the feature super fights of the night, Jaidyn Mueller of Ocean County BJJ faced Chrissy Briggs of Padilla Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The match started with both competitors looking for takedowns. Briggs attempted a scissor takedown that Jaidyn shut down while working her way to half guard. Jaidyn utilized her guard passing skills for much of the regulation period, forcing Briggs to turtle where she attacked the back. In overtime, Jaidyn escaped Briggs’ back control and then finished her with a beautiful transition from the back to a triangle to a kimura.
155 lb. tournament and featured super fight results can be found below.
155 lb. tournament results:
Jon Calestine def. Pedro Serrano via escape time in OT
Adam Benayoun def. Gabriel Sousa via rear naked choke in OT
Gianni Grippo def. Jordan Holy via rear naked choke in OT
Kieran Kichuk def. Josh Cisneros via rear naked choke in OT
Adam Benayoun def. Jon Calestine via ride time in OT
Kieran Kichuk def. Gianni Grippo via arm bar in OT
Kieran Kichuk def. Adam Benayoun via rear naked choke in OT
Super fight results:
Jaidyn Mueller def. Chrissy Briggs
Izabella Frezzo def. Lauren Sears via arm bar from triangle
Frank Rosenthal def. Ellis Karadag via outside heel hook