One of the main catalysts of the growth of mixed martial arts was the Ultimate Fighter reality series. The show debuted in January 2005 and featured 16 contestants in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions competing for a UFC contract. Coaches Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture led the training for eventual UFC standouts Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Josh Koscheck, Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, and Chris Leben. The show not only featured great fights, but also various challenges and plenty of drama, serving as an introduction to the lifestyle and personalities of many top tier mixed martial artists.
FloGrappling is now bringing a similar show to the jiu-jitsu world. The show, titled Who’s Next, will feature 16 grapplers vying for a 3-match Who’s Number One contract. Who’s Number One held it’s inaugural event in February 2020 and has since become one of the premier super fight shows in jiu-jitsu. In September 2021 they launched the WNO Championships, where the five division winners were each awarded $30k.
The Who’s Next matches will be no time limit submission only. Coaches will be WNO Championship heavyweight winner Tim Spriggs and ADCC silver medalist Craig Jones. Tim Spriggs was the biggest underdog in the WNO heavyweight bracket in September. He beat Tex Johnson by decision in the first round and then submitted Haisam Rida and Kaynan Duarte, both via inside heel hook. Craig Jones burst onto the scene with submission victories over Leandro Lo and Murilo Santana at the 2017 ADCC World Championships. He went on to take 2nd in 2019 and has become one of the best leg lockers in the sport.
The Who’s Next cast includes Adam Bradley, Kyle Chambers, Josh Demas, Spencer Fossier, Jansen Gomes, Breylor Grout, Max Hansen, Izaak Michell, Dan Manasoiu, Tristan Overvig, Mike Rakshan, Fabian Ramirez, Jay Rodriguez, Rene Sousa, Andrew Tackett, and Andy Varela.
Jay Rodriguez recently won the ADCC West Coast trials with all submission victories, including a buggy choke in the 88 kg final. Andy Varela also had a stellar performance at the West Coast Trials, making it to the final and losing a close match to William Tackett.
Who’s Next premiers on Wednesday, May 18th on flograppling.com.
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