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Malta’s First Caged Event: MGC3

Posted By Sportinmalta On August 13, 2014 @ 4:53 pm In Featured,Fight Sports,Other | No Comments

By Ed Smith
This year’s edition of Malta Grappling Challenge had some interesting new items to present on the menu. For the first time ever in Malta, a sports combat event was held in an MMA cage that would allow the competitors to use different techniques that would not otherwise have been possible on a standard open mat environment. The cage also offers protection to the competitors, no one can be run off the mats into a wall or onto an unprotected floor, or fall out as in the case of a boxing ring, thus preventing injuries. Also, the kids’ category was expanded to include children age 5-13, who would compete under a restricted set of rules in the interests of safety.

Kids Category:
The Kids’ category consisted of 4 groups, in which the children were divided according to weight and ages to ensure their safety, and a fair level of play with all the entrants being from Bujinkan Malta.
Despite their young age, the participants showed great enthusiasm and also that they have learnt some useful techniques so far, going for hip throws, double leg takedowns, and controlling their opponent from the mount. Definitely some future talent in the making!

The eventual winners of each group were:
Age 5-7: 1 – Daniel Ebejer,
Age 7-9: – Zac Abela,
Age 9-11 – Alessandro Cassar
Age 11-13– Luca Bugelli.

Juniors Open Weight:

There were only two contestants in the Juniors Open Weight category for kids over 13, Dejan Briffa of Team Smasher facing Kyle Abela of Fight Legion. Early on Briffa pushed Abela onto the cage and used that to take his opponent down, even achieving back control. It looked to be going one sided for Briffa up to that point, but Abela, despite being 11kgs lighter than his opponent, put up a very spirited defence. He escaped the back take and even achieved a sweep. Soon after both fighters were back on their feet, and from there it was a see saw battle as Abela pulled guard, and Briffa attempted to pass. Both went close to earning points but neither could pull off their moves to the end. By match end, Briffa had his arms raised as the new Junior Open Weight champion.

Lightweight Category:
With the Juniors over, it was time for the adults to take the stage. The Lightweight category was the most numerous having no less than 9 entrants representing Team Smasher, BJJ Team Malta, Fight Legion and House of Pain.
In the preliminary match to get the contestants down to 8, Stephan Swain fended off George Atanasov’s Sambo takedowns and several submission attempts including a very tight guillotine choke from guard to clinch a narrow and hardly fought 3-2 victory on points.

The quarterfinals saw Neville Paris beat Dervin Vella 11-5 on points with an excellent display of No-Gi Judo, Matthew Camilleri scoring two very impressive takedowns off the cage in his 18-0 victory over Clayton Barbara, while Stephan Swain beat Christian 9-0 on points after nearly getting an anaconda choke towards the end of the round. In the final match of the round, MGC newcomer Daniel Xuereb put up a spirited performance against the more experienced Enrico Manicaro, losing 1-2 via advantages.

The semi-finals saw Neville Paris of Team Smasher facing Stephan Swain who represented both Team Smasher and BJJ Team Malta. The match turned into a stalemate as Swain pulled guard early on, and neither fighter could achieve a sweep or pass. At the end it was a 0-0 draw on points and on advantages. With the result going to a referee’s decision, Paris had his arms raised up in victory and a passage to the final.
The second semi-final saw Matthew Camilleri who also represented Team Smasher and BJJ Team Malta, facing Enrico Manicaro of Fight Legion. This was a more action packed match than the other semi-final. Camilleri pushed Manicaro against the fence early on with the clear intent of getting a takedown. Manicaro defended skilfully, but after a minute and a half Camilleri finally managed to grasp his opponent’s legs and slam him to the ground with a neat double leg straight into side control. Manicaro still had plenty of fight left, and a minute later went very close to victory as he got an armbar from guard, Camilleri’s arm appearing to stretch perilously. Camilleri managed to resist however and towards the end of the match it was his turn to go close to getting a submission as he took his opponent’s back. It was not to be however, but Camilleri still emerged with a 4-0 victory on points.

So far all the matches in this category had gone the whole distance, and there was much anticipation to see whether one of the finalists would manage to score that elusive submission. Both Camilleri and Paris started cautiously, obviously both having respect for the other’s abilities as they circled and tested each other in the clinch, only to break off and repeat the process a few times. Using his experience as a judo black belt, Paris stepped in and attempted a hip throw upon Camilleri. The throw looked good but somehow Camilleri managed to twist around and land on his feet, at the same time pushing Paris down into half guard. Paris tried to scramble up but Camilleri kept pressuring him down, forcing him into turtle as Camilleri circled around him looking for an opening to take his back. Paris tried to defend but Camilleri managed to sink his hooks in and twist to the side. With both hooks in, Camilleri started to work in for the choke, Paris defending and also trying to remove one of the hooks and escape the back if opportunity presented itself. Camilleri’s pressure was relentless however, and with 1 minute to go, he forced Paris to tap out due to rear naked choke.

Welterweight Category:

The Welterweight category also saw a healthy number of contestants, 7 fighters in all from Team Smasher and BJJ Team Malta squaring up against each other. 

In the first round, Jeremy Mangion used some clever guard play against Zalac Dalibor, being ahead on points 4-0 before Dalior was disqualified by accidently rolling into an illegal knee reap which is banned as it puts to much pressure on the knee and can cause injuries. Krazimir Blisnaka was also ahead on points 4-2 against Joe Vella before he too succumbed to disqualification. Vella was in closed guard when Blisnaka raised him up and droped him onto the mat, thus earning the referee’s DQ for slamming. Milutin Ciritovic got the first submission of this category, getting an armbar against Ian Baldacchino.

The semi finals saw Milutin Ciritovic of Team Smasher face Zach Galea of BJJ Team Malta, while the second semi-final would be an all BJJ Team Malta affair as Joe Vella faced Jeremy Mangion.
In the first match, Ciritovic continued his impressive form by winning via kimura from side control after 2:30, while in the second match, Vella showed he also meant business by submitting his team-mate Mangion via triangle choke in 1:30.

The final looked set to be a very evenly matched affair. Vella pulled guard on Ciritovic early on and for the first 4 minutes the match was locked in a stalemate as neither fighter could achieve a sweep or pass. Around the 4 minute mark, Ciritovic managed to open Vella’s guard and pass into side control, immediately attacking the neck for a guillotine choke. Vella defended well, and even managed to gain a sweep in the process. With Ciritovic ahead 3-2 on points, the match’s tempo increased dramatically during this final minute, Vella very nearly achieving a guard pass that would have given him victory, but Ciritovic managed to lock Vella in half guard and hold on till the end.
At the end, Ciritovic emerged the victor in what had been a very intense and entertaining finale.

Middleweight Category:

The Middleweight category saw 5 entrants representing Team Smasher, BJJ Team Malta, Bujinkan Malta and House of Pain.
In the first round, Nemanja Nikolic of team Smasher beat Daniel Dimech on points 15-7, while Joseph Abela of BJJ Team Malta was in tremendous form, being ahead against James Galea 29-0 before achieving a submission via rear naked choke with 20 seconds to go.

There was only one semi-final match as Joseph Abela achieved a bye into the final, so it was left for Team Smasher team mates square up against each other, Nemanja Nikolic against Terrence Portelli, Nikolic proceeding onto the final with an 8-0 victory on points.

During the final, Abela continued to show he meant business, getting a takedown early on, and although Nikolic managed a sweep and even achieved full mount momentarily, it was clear Abela was in a class of his own. Abela escaped the full mount, circling around his opponent’s back and pinning him into side control for long stretches of the game while also scoring points for guard passing and getting full mount. With less than a minute left to go, Nikolic knew he had to risk and go for the submission as he was too far behind on points by this stage. His move however only served to expose his back and Abela sunk in his hooks, achieving another late rear naked choke to make it 2 out of 2 submission victories.

Heavyweight Category:

This category only saw 2 entrants, both representing Team Smasher. Miro Jurkovic faced off against Adrien Ric. Adrien pulled guard early on, and for the first minute the match was mostly a stalemate as both fighters tested each other’s strength. Jurkovic managed to pass into Adrien’s half guard and eventually from there worked his way into full mount. Adrien eventually managed to sweep his opponent, but Jurkovic managed to control his opponent from closed guard comfortably till the end to successfully defend the title he has won the previous year. By winning this match, Jurkovic also became the first MGC contestant in the adult divisions to successfully defend his title from one edition to the next.

MGC 3 was a highly successful and tightly contested event, with Team Smasher and BJJ Team Malta sharing the spoils as regards gold medals. Team Smasher claimed absolute golds in the Juniors Open Weight, Welterweight & Heavyweight divisions; BJJ Team Malta claiming an absolute gold in the Middleweight division; while the Lightweight division winner was representing both these clubs.
Competing in an MMA cage was a first experience for many of the contestants present, but it will certainly be renewed for MGC 4!
20% of the proceeds were donated to Puttinu cares, we would like to thank our sponsors that made the event happened, iGaming Elite, Missions Nutrition, Dragons Center martial arts supplies, Hell energy drinks Malta and Vogue Beauty Salon & Perfumery Paola

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