By TXMMA Staff // Emil Fischer
Right now on the Jiu Jitsu competition scene, there is a new kind of event taking everyone by storm: the submission only invitational. The first and perhaps most publicized event was Metamoris (at least the first one headlined by Roger Gracie vs. Marcus Buchecha Almeida.) However, Metamoris events are gradually losing viewer interest, and other events are beginning to rise in popularity.
Perhaps one of the most exciting new events is Submission Series Pro. This invitational event focuses on pitting well respected local grapplers who may not be as well known on the international scale against some of the best in the game. In doing this, a fantastic result has been accomplished: the international competitors come out far more aggressive as they understand that even a draw with them is an accomplishment for the local guys, and the local guys are coming out super aggressive as they understand that winning a match against an international name could be a career changer.
TXMMA had a chance to sit down with Cat Clarke, the man behind Submission Series Pro, and to get some of his thoughts about Jiu Jitsu, event promotion and the future of his event.
Apart from being a event coordinator/promoter, Clarke himself is a martial artist at heart “I was originally involved in a Kickboxing club when I lived in Toronto and then moved back to Nova Scotia to be closer to my family. My coach here, Jaret MacIntosh is pretty much as close to a legend in the community as it gets in regards to martial arts, etc. So, it was an easy choice… It’s his club and his personality that really drew me back after the first class. He is the one person that had an immense affect on my life and my BJJ; he lives the lifestyle, he lives a good life and he’s a good person and I try to follow those things as I move through the BJJ ranks as well. I have been training in BJJ since 2010, so roughly 5 days a week for the last five years or so, and my body feels it being 34, but I would have it no other way. I absolutely wish I could have found this earlier but I am going to do my all to make sure that kids in the future have at least the option to know what BJJ is and what it’s all about.”
It is clear from his history that Clarke is devoted to BJJ and on a larger scale to martial arts, but there’s a specific reason his attracted to, and so gifted at event promotion “I have always been involved with events. I started my career working for Disney Cruise Line in my early twenties and that really set a standard for me. Obviously, they are known for guest service and taking care of people and I just learned a lot through that company and what people expect and you need to provide to keep a product and the customer happy. I went from there to working full time as a Tour Director; basically take people on trips all over the world… So I did that for many years, along with switching through the cruise ships in the winter and touring in the summer before moving back to Nova Scotia. I have the proper skill set and heart to make this work, I truly believe that… So maybe this is my place in life to help the BJJ community become bigger, who knows. Either way, I’m super happy with how it’s turned out so far.”
Clarke’s first event was a success, and he now has two more planned with several more set to be announced in the near future, however it hasn’t necessarily been an entirely easy path for him “People think I’m some rich guy… not the case. I left my full time job and started this company on my own, from scratch in a small town of 3000 people on the North Shore of Nova Scotia in one of the worst winters in history. I had a lot of time on Facebook and I was hurt for 3 or so months and could not train, so with my background and some drive… Here we are. Also Hooksweep.com, BCKimonos.ca and BJJDepot.ca have been there since day one as well.”
It is noteworthy that Texas based Hooksweep.com has been a major contributing factor to Submission Series Pro, prompting intentions from Clarke to put on an event in Texas. “I’m really looking at Texas as a spot in 2016… Fort Worth area.”
Many people have thought about the sustainability of this model, especially given that Submission Series Pro doesn’t charge for its HD live stream “The model of supporting the local athletes is massive, it supports them, they have never had an outlet like this where their friends could come see them compete in a setting such as this… They can relax in a theater, have a beer and enjoy a “show” as opposed to standing in a corner of a event gym. With music, effects, etc it’s similar to a UFC event but in a classier setting. I made money on the first event and I don’t plan to stop growing and making money because the fighters get paid regardless, small or big – HOWEVER, the better we do, the better they get paid. Hence why we need all the support we can get.”
Many may wonder where the amazing concept came from “It was thought up between me and my business partner, Adam Fraser. He is also the guy behind all of the amazing graphics and quality of our products. He is a great person who also is very much in love with the sport. So much so, his entire family of three kids and wife (sometimes) train on a regular basis. We had an idea like this because around here for the local events and even some other ones in major cities had a lack of higher belts competing. This is because they tend to face each other over and over again and eventually lack the will to train and pay just to fight the same people over and over again…. So, being on the East Coast of Canada where the major event hosts just around 200 people total… things are BIG, but small at the same time.”
As the event grows, Clarke wants to put together some amazing matchups including but not limited to Mackenzie Dern vs. Ronda Rousey, and AJ Agazarm vs. Vagner Rocha (who are currently engaged in internet beef). As the event gains popularity, the matchups get increasingly interesting, including some upcoming matchups like Tom Deblass vs. Joao Assis, Michael Liera Jr. vs. Marcos Tinoco, Edwin Najimi vs. Dainis Nguyen and Andris Brunovskis vs. Josh Wincey.
With any luck, these events will begin proliferating throughout the BJJ scene to give people an opportunity to watch the very best that sub only has to offer, either by going to the event or, remarkably, by watching the live streams at home for free.
Events like Cat Clarke’s Submission Series Pro are rare in an industry that is often fueled by greed. Far too often matchups are put together poorly and no submission occurs. This is not the case with Submission Series Pro. The next event is scheduled for June 20th, tune in for the live stream at www.submissionseriespro.ca and remember this is the highest level of grappling being brought to you for FREE.
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