It is great weather and tournament week here in Houston! The area fight community is abuzz as another opportunity to test their skills arrives on October 2nd when Elbert Hebron’s Grand Prix Grappling presents “Battle of H-Town” at Summer Creek High School.
With eight years experience promoting tournaments in the Houston area, Hebron is looking to create excitement with the Battle of H-Town’s super-fights, which feature Alvis Solis (Solis Martial Arts Academy), Jeff Messina (Revolution Dojo), Josh Hill (Fighting Arts Academy), and Darren Lillian (Team Tooke / Infinite Jiu-Jitsu) all representing their academies in competition against one another. If you reside in the Houston area of have travelled here to compete in BJJ in the past, chances are you’ve done one of Elbert Hebron’s tournaments. I recently caught up with Elbert to talk about this tournament and his history of promoting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu events to give our readers some insight before the Battle of H-Town arrives this coming weekend.
Elbert, When did you start your company and what is it called?
I started in 2002 and called the company Northshore Mixed Martial Arts. I did promotions under this name for many years and in 2010 started Grand Prix Grappling.
How did you get started in the BJJ tournament business? What are some of the reasons you continue to stay in this business?
As a competitor in sport karate for many years I attended a tournament in Dallas put on by Carlos Machado that had karate and BJJ. I decided to put my bachelor’s degree in Marketing to use.
I’ve seen the Battle of H-Town for many years, and more recently International Grappling Festival. Any other I am missing?
In July 2010 my newest promotion was the Houston Grand Prix Jiu Jitsu Championship. It was a two-day event with superfights and an 8-man event. The event was huge and the camaraderie between the BJJ practitioners was a great experience. I’ve already been asked to do that format again as soon as possible.
You’ve been putting together superfight matchups for some time. Who are some of the biggest names you’ve brought down to compete and what are some of the most memorable matchups you’ve put together for your events?
I brought Kyra Gracie, Mario Feitosa, Ruben “Cobrinha” Charles, Justin Rader, Shawn Hammonds, just to name a few. The most memorable matchup that I put together was probably the Battle of H-Town in 2008 featuring Cobrinha, Andre Monteiro, Robert Solis, Renato Tavares and Wesley Gann.
What motivated you to put together this instructor superfight series for October? Who are some of the names in this already and who else do you hope will participate?
You typically don’t get to see instructors compete in Houston. I have been to the bigger events such as the Pan Ams and I figured the BJJ community would love to see the instructors compete right here in there own backyard. Some of the names that I have confirmed thus far are Alvis Solis, Jeff Messina, Josh Hill, Darren Lillian, and I’ve received several emails and phone calls from instructors who want to be part of the next event.
Your tournaments are amongst the most well-attended in the area, with schools often coming from out of state to compete. Why do you think that is?
I believe that my tournaments have some of the best competitors around. Some of the big names in BJJ and MMA in this area got their start at my tournament. I also have a huge Mississippi and Louisiana following.
How can competitors register for your tournaments and why should they do yours? I mean, what separates your events from your typical BJJ Tourney?
You can register online at http://www.grandprixgrappling.com until pre-registration closes on September 30th.
We have a great mat company, Zebra Tournament Systems of Texas, and I use the same referees at all of my events. Some of the feedback that I’ve received is that these are the most professional refs in the area. My awards are some of the best around, and I award huge team cup trophies as well as individual awards.
Anything else you want to share with MMA and BJJ fans in this area?
Grand Prix Grappling will provide you with the highest level of BJJ tournaments.
It will be a well-run event with some of the best facilities around.One thing I would like to see and that’s been brought to my attention is that promoters should work together to spread out tournaments and give the competitors a greater opportunity to compete.