Copa Podio Grand Prix
Professor John Combs has had a busy year. Over the last six months, he’s competed every 18 days on average, with more tournaments and professional bouts planned through November. He received his black belt at the Easton Belt Promotion event in Boulder on June 18th, and not even a week later, he received a Facebook message from Andre Borges, who runs BJJheroes.com. Borges had seen John’s performance at this year’s Pan Ams, and invited him to join some of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s top contenders in Buenos Aires for the Copa Podio Middleweight Grand Prix on July 9th.
The Copa Podio tournament is an annual series of three Grand Prix events (lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight) run by Jefferson Mayca of Podio Sports Ventures. It is in its fourth year, and in that time, has become the most prestigious gi competition in the world. Each Grand Prix features just ten competitors, nine black belts, and one brown belt. The format is also unique, with five total rounds of round-robin style match-ups, each competitor has four six-minute fights per round. In each fight, five points are awarded for a win by submission, three for a win on points, two for a win by advantages, and 1 for a draw. The competitors with the most points at the end of the round advance to the next stage. This format encourages entertaining, fast-paced matches, and the departure from the more typical single-elimination tournament style ensures that everyone has a chance to showcase their skills. Getting caught once doesn’t mean the end of the road.
John arrived in Argentina on July 4th, and checked into the Lafayette Hotel. During his stay, he was able to explore the city, train at several different academies, and check out the Casa Rosada Presidential palace. He was welcomed warmly at every turn, from the Jiu Jitsu schools to the other competitors, and especially the crowd at the event. He quickly befriended Braulio and Victor Estima, and a group of Norweigian competitors, with whom he spent much of his time. For John, mingling with the international Jiu Jitsu community was one of the highlights of his trip, and he was honored to be included in such a distinguished event.
Competition began on July 9th, and John’s first match was against Diego Borges, a well-known Brazilian and consistent front-runner in the international competition scene. It was a tough match, which Borges won on points. In the second, John took on Dan Borovic, an American brown belt. John executed an exciting passing sequence in this match, and won on points, 12-4. In his third match, against Claudio Calasans, a Brazilian who won IBJJF Worlds in 2015, John took first points with a single-leg, but Calasans won with a guillotine. In the fourth fight, John went up against Erberth Santos, a Brazilian who’s racked up multiple championships over the last few years. John shot in right away for a suplex, and Santos finished the match with a triangle.
All of John’s matches, as well as the other Copa Podio fights, are available to be viewed in their entirety with a FloGrappling.com membership!
Though his run ended after this first round, John was a crowd favorite, and before long, they were chanting his name, “John! John! John!” When the show was over, walking through the hotel lobby, Leandro Lo caught John’s eye, and repeated the refrain, pumping his fist, “John! John! John!” Moments like this, brushing shoulders and fighting with Jiu Jitsu’s elite was an incredible experience, and John was both humbled and inspired.
Coming up next, he’s headed to the Chicago Open, the UAE Grand Slam in California, and then to Guatemala in October for the GT Open and a match against Richie “Boogeyman” Martinez.