JT Torres and the Keys to Victory At Metamoris 5

JT Torres vs Yuri Samoes Moving into November, the Jiu Jitsu and grappling world is becoming more focused on to the approaching Metamoris V on the 22nd of this month.

Our own JT Torres is set to compete against UFC vet, Rory McDonald in to co-main event. What makes Metamoris so special is the element of the super fight; where unlike a tournament—where there are eight matches on eight mats going on at once—the focus can be on one match. The lights are dimmed, and the one match is everyone’s focus. Metamoris also tries to live up to the hype that the term “super fight” implies by pitting two high-level athletes against each other in a submission only grappling match. That’s where things get interesting.

JT is fighting a Rory McDonald who is renowned for being a ‘pure mixed martial artist’—meaning that Rory is one of the few in the sport who began training strictly MMA from day one; as opposed to transitioning into the sport from another martial arts background like the majority of fighters. Adversely, JT is purely a Jiu Jitsu fighter. While he does hold a black belt in Karate, JT has been completely focused on Jiu Jitsu since he took up the sport in his teens.

JT has since become one of the sport’s most exciting BJJ players to watch. In 2013, JT took home the bronze in the IBJJF Pan-Ams and echoed that with great showing at the highly prestigious ADCC. Also in 2013, JT won gold at the IBJJF No Gi World Championships; something he hoped to replicate recently this year, but was sidelined due to (literally) ripping his toes apart at the webbing. But for someone who trains at ATOS in San Diego alongside the likes of Andre Galvao, Keenan Cornelius, and other high-level black belts, that wouldn’t be too much to keep him sidelined for long. Going into Metamoris, though, it might take a lot more than that sort of toughness to beat Rory McDonald.

Up front, JT is nicknamed “Spiderman” due to his outstanding grips and an incredibly advanced Spider Guard—both factors will be a non-issue because this upcoming match is a no gi match nullifying the Spider Guard, the Bow and Arrow Choke that JT favors, and essentially the grips. However, let’s not lose sight that our black belt did win gold at the No Gi Worlds. In this blog post we’re going to look at some advantages JT has against McDonald, a video with JT in the gi against another UFC vet, and three videos of JT in no gi action. One with JT and Marcelo Garcia where the two are grappling for fun, another with JT and Marcel Mafra in the 2013 No Gi Worlds where JT won, and the last featuring JT against Kron Gracie in the 2013 ADCC semifinal where JT loses.

One of the factors that is going to play to JT’s advantage here is the 20-minute time limit for the Metamoris match. While McDonald does compete at a high level, he’s used to a 5-minute round. Even still, those rounds aren’t always against high-level grappling competition like JT will bring. I suspect that we’re likely to see McDonald coming out not as aggressive as JT, and JT having to chase the submissions. That’s something not too uncommon for JT, but we’ll look more into that later. McDonald does hold some notable wins over high-level grapplers (Nate Diaz, BJ Penn, Demian Maia), but all of those fights were won via decision and not with a submission. I’d look for things to start to get interesting around the 7-minute mark when the MMA fighter’s conditioning might start to fade, but that might not be entirely canon. In 2010, JT faced off in another super fight against another UFC fighter by the name of Dustin Hazlett; and finished the MMA fighter in just over a minute with an arm bar. That match was, however, in the gi.

The no gi aspect of this Metamoris match doesn’t necessarily mean that the favor is falling more into McDonald’s side; if anything it’s leveling the playing field. Aside from that, however, I see everything else playing to JT’s favor.

JT is comfortable off of his back. A large percentage of his game is based off of his ability to sweep and submit his opponents from a bottom position. If McDonald does decide to press, and be aggressive, look for JT to get comfortable in guard; or more likely in De La Riva.

Here, against Marcelo Garcia, you can see Garcia starting in his traditional Open/Butterfly Guard, and JT looking to pass. That may be something we can expect from McDonald—and like this Garcia video, look for JT to pass to his left. After the sweep attempt, there’s a scramble where JT eventually settles into De La Riva and ultimately works to sweep. Now, Marcelo is the best active Jiu Jitsu player in the world (you can argue that, but you’d only sound silly), and Rory McDonald is not. I do anticipate McDonald trying to come out and intimidate JT, but eventually settling into a seated-type guard, and JT passing where he is an absolute destroyer on top in no gi competition.

Looking now at the 2013 World No-Gi finals against Marcelo Mafra, you can see that JT comes out very aggressive and pushes the pace—something he’ll need to do against McDonald—until Mafra sits down into seated guard position. JT will again look to pass left, then begin an absolute domination from the top position. When JT is playing top, he’s a terror; which is also what makes him so fun to watch. Here you can see at around the 0:50 mark where he’s looking for a Head and Arm choke, and specifically how he’s always pushing for a submission and dictating the pace. Even when Mafra creates enough space to hip-escape out, JT remains aggressive and hounds Marfa out of bounds. The restart offers more of the same until you see JT pass left, Mafra scramble, and JT (again) play aggressive and find Mafra’s back where he nearly gets a Rear-Naked Choke before the Brazilian restart. The same aggressive approach eventually leads to JT winning here by setting a pace that Mafra just couldn’t keep up with.

Looking now at the 2013 ADCC Semifinal against eventual winner, Kron Gracie, we see the same game plan and mindset for JT. Jumping ahead to 2:26, Kron looks to sweep, JT sniffs it out, and the two spiral down to Kron playing an open guard and JT looking to pass left. The rest of the match would continue out that way until the 7:30 mark. Here you’ll see Kron playing open and JT looking to pass left. At 7:40 you’ll see Kron get to a Closed Guard position and trap JT’s right arm with an over-hook. When JT stands to pass, Kron springs the trap by opening his hips, throwing his leg over JT’s head, then elevating his hips to hyperextend JT’s trapped arm for an arm bar at 7:45. In those 15-seconds, fate shifted. JT played aggressive the entire match, forcing Kron to play defense where he eventually won off of his back with an arm bar—something his grandfather, Helio Gracie, designed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to do. It also doesn’t hurt that Kron is the son of the best Jiu Jitsu player ever in Rickson Gracie. But in all honestly, that arm bar was super-slick.

If McDonald wants to win on November 22nd against JT, he’ll need to disrupt JT’s aggressive pace and put JT on his back, forcing him to secure a win from the bottom. JT needs to (obviously) avoid that; if not stop it from happening all together. We’re going to be sure to keep JT’s energy level at a high with our Help Gold Protein Bars, but JT will really need to focus on keeping his larger opponent’s back on the mat so that he can demonstrate how big of a terror he is with that vicious top game we’ve looked at today. We’ll be able to tell what kind of match it will be from very early on. We know that JT is going to come out aggressive and look to impose his game on McDonald. But depending on how McDonald reacts to that will tell us volumes as to how the match will go. Personally I see it playing out a lot like the Mafra match we looked at with McDonald looking to get to work and initiate a ‘grappling scenario’ by taking a seat, or pulling guard; but if he looks to secure the take down and establish himself in the top position, we may be in for a battle. JT is certainly a highly-skilled Jiu Jitsu player, and I think if he can avoid a take down from Kron Gracie, I feel comfortable in saying that he’ll avoid whatever McDonald offers as well. Let’s just hope that if that happens, JT adheres to the odd BJJ adage of “There is no losing in Jiu Jitsu, win or learn,” and doesn’t fall victim to an arm bar from the guard.

What do YOU think JT's Keys to Victory are?

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