Popular Luta Livre fighters
After Mestre Tatu, other popular Luta Livre fighters who rose to fame are Euclides “The Blond Devil” Pereira, who defeated Carlson Gracie via decision in 1968 and retired undefeated; Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 7 tournament champion Marco Ruas and his co-UFC alumni Eugenio Tadeau, Hugo Duarte, Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Milton Vieira; and former Shooto lightweight champion Alexandre Franca “Pequeno” Nogueira. Currently, lightweight Glaico Franca, winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4, won his recent fight in UFC 190. Former English UFC fighter Terry Etims also won his last fight in Bellator 109, along with his countryman Paul Sass who won in Bellator 104. Even the controversial Maiquel Falcão, the Bellator Season Six Middleweight Tournament winner, is on a two-fight winning streak.
From Malaysia to Metro Manila: Luta Livre sets foot on Philippine shores
Last August, Aries Supremo, a Filipino aikido master who also trains in catch wrestling, was invited by Italian Antonio Batistessa to attend Mestre Afonso’s instructor certification course in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. The course was hosted by the Sabah Top Team, which Batistessa leads. Supremo successfully finished the course and was awarded a Luta Livre instructor’s certificate.
While in Sabah, it was decided that Luta Livre be brought to the Philippines for the first time, and for Mestre Afonso to try continuing his MMA fighting career in Metro Manila.
Last September 2, Xtreme Martial Arts, a gym in Taguig City owned by Supremo, offered the first of five free training sessions in Luta Livre conducted by Mestre Afonso, with the assistance of Batistessa who holds a purple belt in the martial art. The free training sessions culminated Friday of the following week, September 11. Then, the two-day weekend seminar commenced with almost a dozen attendees, who were awarded their certificates of participation at the end of the historical event.
Mestre Afonso, who represents Academia Budokan – RJ and received his Luta Livre black belt from Brazilian legend Joao Ricardo, is currently in talks with the management of an international MMA promotion which regularly holds events in the Philippines.
The future of Luta Livre in the Philippines
Supremo, the leader of the emerging Luta Livre movement in the Philippines, commits to promote the sport in schools and martial arts gyms across the country. He plans to hold Luta Livre events, in coordination with the Philippine Combat Wrestling Federation. (Originally from Japan, Combat Wrestling, under its new international federation FICW headed by its president Ivaylo Ivanov of Bulgaria, has rules best online casino very much similar to Luta Livre. Likewise, it has strong emphasis on takedowns and pins, and a comprehensive set of submission holds.) In fact, most of the Philippine delegation to the upcoming 2015 Japan Combat Wrestling Open in December attended Mestre Afonso’s seminar.
Due to its effectiveness in MMA competitions like the UFC and ONE Championship, submission grappling is growing into one of the world’s most popular combat sports. More Filipino athletes are becoming aware of the sport, with the more serious ones dreaming of someday setting foot on the mats of prestigious international competitions like the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Submission Wrestling World Championship.
In the local scene, martial artists Ronald Gavileño and friends made history by holding the country’s first widely-participated submission grappling events in 2004: the Grapplers Cup then the Philippine Grappling League, respectively, in 2004. Subsequently, Stephen Kamphuis and his BJJ team Kamphuis-Fabrico have been successfully organizing regular international and local BJJ tournaments, with gi and no gi divisions for a decade now. (Kamphuis is also the Philippine representative to the ADCC Submission Fighting World Federation.) Rollapalooza of Atos Philippines BJJ has also been attracting top local grapplers to its events for years already.
With wrestling finally becoming a regular sport of the Department of Education’s Palarong Pambansa starting next year (after its run as demonstration sport in the national games’ 2014 and 2015 editions), expect more Filipino youth to easily acquaint and appreciate learning and competing in Luta Livre, along with other grappling arts, in the near future.
The writer gives acknowledgement Maciel Welko and Elton Selva. Karlo Sevilla is currently the director of the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP) Wrestling Club and Philippine representative to the International Federation of Combat Wrestling (FICW). Post-assessment of his performance during the Luta Livre training sessions and seminar, he received a blue belt from Mestre Afonso. He also holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from BJJ black belt Coach Stephen Kamphuis. He is the founder of Team SPRAWL – MMA.