Before last night’s Quintet event, another member of the press nervously asked me ‘Do you think this will be a success?’. Wildly unsure, but trying to remain upbeat and positive, I replied, ‘Yeah, I think it’ll be fun’.
Fun it was. Very fun indeed, in fact.
The evening started with the first semi-final between Team Haleo and Team Judo. Team Haleo advanced after eliminating all of Team Judo’s members before Josh Barnett could even make an appearance. In the second semi-final, Team Polaris needed only Craig Jones and Marcin Held, who put in incredible performances to take out all five of the Sambo team.
The final was set up, somewhat expectedly, between Team Polaris and Team Haleo. Firstly, Gregor Gracie managed a draw against Josh Barnett, taking Haleo’s biggest and most dangerous grappler out early. Then came Dan Strauss, who used adroit butterfly and x-guards to set up tight chokes to defeat Daisuke Nakamura and Hideo Tokoro. After drawing a wonderfully enjoyable match with Sakuraba, he then left it to Craig Jones to take the win for Polaris with his second knee-bar of the evening.
So, with all the uncertainty prior to the event, how did things work out? Firstly, the rules and format lent themselves perfectly to exciting performances. The grapplers had to push the action and didn’t have a lot of time to get the finish. Also, some of the performances were glorious. Craig Jones’ slick knee bar finishes, Marcin Held’s beautiful series of wins in the semi-finals, and Hideo Tokoro’s wonderfully…well…Tokoro-esque performances. Always willing to put on a show, he went from a sublime 15 second arm-bar to being submitted in nasty fashion by the much larger Dong Sik Yoon and Daniel Strauss.
Speaking of The Raspberry Ape, Strauss put on a wonderful show. His match with Sakuraba was fun, technical, respectful and competitive, a microcosm of the event itself, and a beautiful reminder of why we love the grappling arts.
Quintet 2 has not been booked yet but there is no doubt there is demand for it. Who knows what to expect? Team Atos? Team 10th Planet? Team RGA? Whatever happens, it looks unlikely to disappoint.
Check out the replay on UFC Fight Pass.