At Grapplers Quest Beast of the East in New Jeresey this past Saturday, Grapplers Quest President Brian Cimins asked a packed crowd to bunch up and to make some noise as a tv executive along with the UFC’s Dana White and Lorzeno Fertitta would see the video of the day’s superfights. The enthusiastic crowd pressed shoulder to shoulder and cheered the superfight competitors through their matches. Before hearing Brian say this, I never really considered the possibility of grappling on television. As much as I know I would enjoy this sort of thing, could it really work? When addressing the crowd, Brian Cimins said “People always tell me your sport isn’t popular”. He pointed out that this clearly was untrue by the crowd of people attending that day, later writing its the “best crowd we’ve ever had” . But many of these people were probably there to compete themselves or support a friend or family member. Could it stand up on its own legs as spectator sport on television?
It’s a struggle to find any grappling competition on television. This past weekend we had the NCAA wrestling tournament, which to my knowledge is the only time you’ll find nationally televised collegiate wrestling. This is really sad considering you can probably find far more pool, poker, and darts on ESPN(No offense to fans of these!). There was Real Pro Wrestling, which for reasons unclear to me ended after its first season. That is wrestling though, and we’re talking “submission wrestling”. The closest thing I can find is the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club championships, which unfortunately had attendance closer to empty than full in the last two events in Barcelona, Spain(2009) and Trenton, NJ(2007). However, from what I understand attendance at Long Beach, California(2005) was much better.
While not televised you could purchase the ADCC Barcelona online streaming, and I’m curious to know how successful this was. It is becoming more common to be able to purchase streaming grappling online. You can view the 2010 IBJJF Pan Jiu-jitsu Championships online this April. However, even at the Olympic level, grappling sports struggle for airtime on TV. I can remember often having to watch wrestling and judo late at night or online only at recent Olympics. Maybe the right rules system needs to be devised to make it more entertaining as a spectator sport for the masses. FILA may have created beach wrestling in 2004 in a bid to make wrestling more exciting for television. In televised grappling, there would probably be less tolerance for stalling or a static position on the ground. Wrestling traditionally does not have the submission, which is naturally exciting. You know if the one caught does not submit or escape he may be seriously injured. A successful submission ends the match instantly and can be beautiful to the trained eye. On second thought, the rules might not be as important as some people might think to bring grappling to TV. Curling was successful on television during the last Olympics and I have to question how many people watching it actually knew what was going on!
Despite the adversity I want this to succeed. Just because some other similar sports haven’t been successful doesn’t mean grappling won’t someday make it on television. Along with the stated goal of bringing grappling to TV, Grapplers Quest makes donations and runs numerous fund raisers for autism awareness, they also run an online support forum at Grappling Autism. In addition you can now find excellent matches and superfights on Grapplers Quest’s Youtube channel. These are great things as the sport continues to grow in popularity. According to Cimin’s this past Grappler’s Quest was the largest event in the history of the sport. We need to see how far this thing can go. It could also be the right time, with MMA’s success bringing widespread knowledge of grappling. Whether the end result is grappling on television or not is yet to be determined, but anything that promotes the further expansion of the sport is good in my book.
Below is a link to two of the days super fights.
Dante Rivera vs. Rafael Lovato Jr:
Nolan Dutcher Vs Derek Picinich: