Professional grappling shows have taken the sport of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Submission Grappling to a new plateau, opening profitable doors to its athletes and aspiring event promoters. The grappling fight series trend has seemingly made its way to Kansas City, Missouri with the inauguration of the city's first professional grappling event "Ultimate Absolute 2018."
The Ultimate Absolute is a grappling fighting series created by the brilliant minds of Blue Corner Production and UNGD.tv. Ultimate Absolute 2018 program consisted of a three-part event featuring round-robin kids and adult tournament, and an action-packed pro show of eighteen super fights, with the winner receiving a cash prize.
The event's buzz-worthy promotion drew massive numbers; competitors from 35 grappling teams from 11 states took part in the event. From start to finish the “2018 Ultimate Absolute” was a star-studded compilation featuring some of the best grappling talents from across the country.
The show kicked off with two spectacular teen matches that featured Billie Merreighn of Bloomington JJ battling NLD's Paulie Hernandez, and Brazil Academy's Trevor Cameron going against Frankie Hoggard of Easton Castle Rock JJ. The skill, hunger, and drive to emerge victorious was put on display by each young athlete, as the platform may have revealed some future stars in our sport.
Another highlight of the night was a purple belt no-gi match between Jordan Peitzman and Justin Fabric, whose back-and-forth leg lock battle had spectators on the edge of their seats wondering who would come out on top. In addition to the many grappling talents gracing the stage, the event also caught the attention of famous faces in the MMA world looking to put their grappling skills to the test. In what many are calling the controversial contest of the night saw a barnburner match between UFC veteran Josh Neer taking on grappling ace Devin Chasten. Josh Neer doesn’t back down, neither does his opponent Devin Chasten. The match fell quickly into a stalemate, with Neer inside Chasten's guard unable to generate any pass attempts and Chasten unable to create any real offense or sweeps. Words started to get exchanged between both men, as all can see it heating up. As the match progresses, Chasten seemed to have had enough, as he unlocks his guard and stands to his feet, which was followed by Neer running him clean off the mat hard into the crowd. The place went nuts with boos, and it becomes very hostile. This happened with only 3 seconds left in the match. They started the clock; the 3 seconds ran out as Chasten motions to the crowd with his arms. The center referee brings them to the middle of the stage, awaiting the decision of the three mat side judges. They all 3 raise the hand in favor of Neer, and once again both combatants have an exchange of words. Unhappy with the decision, Chasten pulls away and goes nuts with the verdict.
Even with the contended battle between Neer and Chasten leaving everyone depleted, The Ultimate Absolute was far from over. The attention now shifted to the co-main event pitting Easton Castle Rock's Alex Huddleston against Axios JJ's John Hansen. A highly contested match both fighters left everything on the mat, as Hasen and Huddleston proved to be equally matched challengers. However, when the smoke cleared it would be Huddleston that would walk away with a split decision victory over the gamed John Hansen.
The night of action then went into the grand finale main event featuring Renato Tavares vs. Luis Flipo Ninja Pinto. The match would start off at a slow pace with each competitor being very cautious waiting for the other to make a mistake. However, as the fight progressed Tavares' half guard and bulldog top pressure proved to be the deciding factor in scoring a unanimous decision victory over the Brazil Academy instructor.
Surprising upsets, thrilling submission finishes and hyped controversy, The 2018 Ultimate Absolute was a major success drafting more than 500 in-door spectators and 78 online streaming viewers, as it was dubbed by many as "The Best Pro Grappling Show They Ever Seen." Show's fans already want more! Event promoters are currently making plans to push the "Ultimate Absolute" brand, as it aims to offer competitors and fans the unique and fun experience.
"This event was a HUGE success in terms of competitors and fans," said event Promoter Travis Conley. "'When is the next one?' That’s all I heard after the event. I want the Ultimate Absolute to continue to be something special and elite, an annual event you train and prepare for on the calendar. We want to improve it and make it better, of course. We want to increase the business and participation of local tournaments in KC so we'll be offering spots in the Ultimate Absolute to winners of those local tournaments throughout 2018. This will give competitors the incentive to compete locally, gain your position in the Ultimate Absolute 2019."
Dream Champion Series Competitor -Travis Conley- The Hunger For Success
Life always seems to be the most challenging when an individual wants something. For many athletes in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu challenges aren't hard to find as it definitely has its share of highs and lows one must encounter in hopes of achieving their goals. Nevertheless the risk is worth the reward because it makes one's purpose that more meaningful when that mission is accomplished.
Renato Tavares Brown Belt, Travis Conley, is one competitor instilled with a burning desire for success. Opportunities have become fully available for this grappling practitioner from Kansas City, Missouri as he has uncovered remarkable talents within himself and achieve great feats in his nine year stint in the sport.
Conley's next challenge will find him as a participant in the submission only Dream Jiu-jitsu Brown Belt Championship Series as he will be going head to head against some of the world's top competitors with a $ 1000 cash prize on the line. But the threat of 31 tough opponents doesn't seem to faze Conley has he looks to put on a Slobberknocker performance showcasing his standing as the Best Brown Belt in the world.
Why So Determined? What Make His Purpose So Significant? Why Even Fear Flees In his Presence?
Conley wasn't hesitant to tell us why here at BJJ Legends as we get an in-depth look at what makes this competitor bound for success.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in BJJ? Travis Conley: My start in BJJ came when I was rehabbing a very severed shoulder reconstruction surgery I suffered from years of professional wrestling. It took me almost a year, all of 2005, working to get back in the ring but one of my college buddies Mike Beyer (I was a junior at CMSU at the time) said, "Hey come roll with us and do some submissions" and I did, never looked back. During high school wrestling I was always getting unnecessary roughness and illegal hold calls and penalty points, so BJJ was a perfect fit haha. I only trained 1-3x a week and didn't train in the gi for probably the first 3yrs, being a wrestler it took me a long while to grasp the concept and adhere to the jiu-jitsu lifestyle.
Reflecting on your journey thus far what do you feel has got you to where you are today? Travis Conley: I think many factors play into what has taken me to this point so far. First, my coaches and teammates, KCBJJ. I have the best any human being could possibly want or ask for. Jason Bircher and Ethan Day were brown belts at the time I started, I train with Jason every day and Ethan has become one of my best friends and motivators. I can't say enough about Renato Tavares, who is completely unselfish and giving, a beacon of a wholesome jiu-jitsu life.
Second and most prominent has to be tenacity. It's hard for me to explain fully, but I know in my heart I've been blessed with something special, something different. We all have gifts and talents, and this is mine. My entire life I've always had this drive, a desire to be World Champion, to be different and not to be mediocre and that fire remains strong, grows stronger each day. I stay hungry, invite and seek new challenges and goals each and every year. I am always the underdog, as long as I can remember, but that role I don't ever see changing and it's who I am. In every situation or obstacle, against odds and opinions I find a way, never give up, never give in...It's this in short that has taken me all over the world, training, competing, meeting all kinds of good people, and to where I am today.
You have made quite a name for yourself as a competitor in the Midwest and even the international circuit. How would you define yourself as a competitor? Travis Conley: I am a fearless competitor. I want the biggest, baddest, best opponents on the planet. The bigger the name or challenge, the more it fires me up, charges me, makes me feel alive. I live for that feeling, the anticipation, the rush, build-up and moments right before a match...nothing else in the world compares. Historically there hasn't been high-level BJJ in Kansas City or the Midwest, but definitely over past couple years it has emerged. People always say, "You can't win a World Title living and training in the Midwest". I don't believe that, and I feel as a trailblazer of sorts for Kansas City. I've realized a lot of the things I've accomplished and I'm doing no one else has, there is no blueprint for me or anyone, and to me that's exciting.
What has competing done for you? Travis Conley: Competing keeps me going. I am a very goal oriented person, that's never the problem but over the past couple years what I've realized above all is the inspiration and motivation what YOU do gives to others. I'm always taken back, in awe when people make comments to me, tell me they saw me at this tournament, or remember that fight, or follow me on social media and that what I'm doing motivates them. It truly is the most rewarding feeling, and I feel a deep sense of responsibility and duty that further motivates me! Competing is the ultimate test, physically, mentally; spiritually...you find out about yourself things you never would have. Step outside of your comfort zone. It's one of the most important things we can do in life to help us to grow and learn.
Speaking of competition your next major battle finds you in the Dream Jiu-jitsu Brown Belt Championship Series tournament. How does it feel to be a part of this prestigious event with some of the best brown belts in the world? Travis Conley: I feel fantastic. It's an honor to be invited and to be among 31 other killers and to have your hard work and dedication recognized. Thank-you to Dan for reaching out to me, and to Raf for going above and beyond, sponsoring and making the trip possible. It's amazing to be able to continue to represent Kansas City and KCBJJ. I feel every single time the whole city is with me, and that just empowers me beyond measure.
What do you feel separates you from the rest on the brown belt competitors? Travis Conley: I pour my heart out every single time I step on the mat, and people recognize that. You can't fake it. I can't speak for the other competitors. Will this be your first time in a no time limit Submission only event? Travis Conley: This will be. I love it, I've always wanted to test myself with one and feel my style fits the rules and format. I've wrestled for hours before, and done crazy matches in professional wrestling, my conditioning is never an issue so I feel great, just excited.
How has the training been going for you preparing for this event? Travis Conley: Training is always good. KCBJJ is building more and more monsters every month, it's insane. I'm there every day, sometimes twice a day. I train clients full-time at my place, Underground Gym as well as run the company and work with online clients. I make time to hit my strength and conditioning workouts, sprints, drills, and yoga. I was in Florida training with Renato last week. Ethan comes to town often, or I make trips to Denver. I'm always getting good training, expanding, reaching out and learning from all my connections, bad asses from all over that I've met over the years.
Hoping to come out on top what would winning this tournament mean to you? Travis Conley: MONEY IN THE BANK and another title to my name!
Finally as you journey continues what do see for yourself in the future? Travis Conley: "The future is not set, there is no fate but that which we make" - Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I plan on continuing to carve a great future for myself and others en route to a World Championship. This year specifically I have goals on qualifying for ADCC and entering into a big IJF tournament as well. I see myself as being a feared opponent, putting people on notice!
Is there anyone you would like to thank before we close this interview? Travis Conley: I have to thank my friends and family, brothers, my roots in Kansas. I love my city. My team KCBJJ and the RTBJJA. My sponsors Ground Control Fight Gear, iFlow, Elite Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, Defense Soap, Zen Zone Yoga, Underground Gym. I would honestly be nowhere without any of them, they back me and believe in me, they make these dreams I'm chasing possible. Last but certainly not least, I have to thank my beautiful girlfriend Laura who strengthens, inspires, and makes me a better version of myself every day!