Below are five reasons to tune in to Thursday’s excellent grappling event. I also detail what to tune in for, and how to watched the stacked event designed for both new viewers from MMA and the hardcore grappling fans.
Five reasons MMA fans should watch this BJJ card
5. It has UFC stars
With this being organized by the people behind UFC Fight Pass, it’s unsurprising that these BJJ events are catered to try and draw from that core fan (and subscriber) base they have. This has been their formula from the previous three iterations that saw UFC stars like Miesha Tate, Song Yadong and Roxy Modafferi compete in no gi, and it’s the same for this one as well.
Fight Pass Invitational 4 has three UFC fighters to watch.
Glover Teixeira may have retired from MMA earlier this year, but fans can still watch the well-loved former UFC champ compete — without the brain trauma — on Thursday night. The 43-year-old faces former opponent, Anthony Smith, who is still active and ranked #7 in the UFC rankings. Teixeira won by TKO in 2020, and now Smith has a chance to get a win — and not lose his teeth this time — while Glover gets to showcase his 2nd degree BJJ black belt.
The third UFC fighter on the card is #7 ranked flyweight Alex Perez, who will face a two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champ Roman Bravo-Young. It’ll be the wrestling prodigy’s submission grappling debut, which should make for an interesting clash of styles, much like how Bo Nickal also competed in the earlier Fight Pass Invitationals before his UFC stint.
4. It’s an incredibly stacked BJJ card
While those two matches I mentioned were booked to draw in MMA fans, the rest of the card is actually pretty damn stacked with BJJ stars and elite talent. Fight Pass Invitational 3 had the sport’s biggest star in Gordon Ryan, but this fourth iteration is clearly the promotion’s best card by far.
This makes for an event that is not only a good way to get casual viewers introduced to the pro grappling scene, but something that’s also going to whet the appetite of the most avid BJJ fan.
3. Nicholas Meregali’s return to no gi
The event will also feature a superstar in the gi and another John Danaher product in Nicholas Meregali, taking on a 7-time no gi world champion in Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. It should be an interesting clash as Cyborg is by far more experienced in this ruleset, but Meregali is much younger and still in his prime as he makes his first return to no gi in 2023.
Meregali is a three-time world champion and routinely proclaims himself as the world’s best gi athlete today. Despite his lack of competition experience without the jacket, he impressed enough as he dove into the highest levels of no gi last year, getting silver and bronze at the 2022 ADCC event.
2. Felipe Peña vs Craig Jones
Headlining the card is two of the sport’s elite in Felipe Peña vs Craig Jones.
Peña is a decorated ADCC, IBJJF, and no gi world champ, while Jones has torn through the pro circuit, while being known as the world’s most famous silver medalist. He placed second in two ADCC events, and has leaned into that branding as he now heads “the B-Team,” after their group famously split with John Danaher and Gordon Ryan’s DDS team.
1. 8-man, $30,000 absolute tournament
Honestly, those BJJ super-fights alone already make for a good card, but UFC Fight Pass Invitational 4 will also have a really stacked open-weight tournament filled with some real killers on the mat.
The eight men in the absolute tournament are all BJJ stars and staples in the pro grappling scene from different divisions.
The most famous athletes on the line up include two-time ADCC silver medalist Nicky Rodriguez, who broke Gordon Ryan’s ankle in the last Fight Pass invitational, reigning 2023 IBJJF world champ and arguable favorite Fellipe Andrew, Polaris champ and BJJ prodigy Roberto Jimenez, along with UFC vet and long time BJJ star Vagner Rocha.
Also on the 8-man roster is IBJJF world champ Gabriel Arges, New Wave’s Dan Manasoiu, Fedor Nikolov, and B-Team’s Haisam Rida, who recently went viral for absolutely mangling an alleged car thief’s leg.
The eight men are competing for $30,000. Considering it’s jiujitsu, where typically even champions pay to compete in IBJJF, that’s a pretty massive prize.
Bonus: Gordon Ryan is giving $500 bounties on former teammates
Another sign this is a great card, is that the biggest star in the sport is trying to insert himself and grab some headlines. Think of it as the BJJ equivalent of Conor McGregor and Jon Jones’ tweet-and-delete sprees from the sidelines during big UFC PPVs. (I guess it worked, because I’m also mentioning it here.)
As Ryan has been out all year dealing with his health issues—and shrinking physique—the always controversial BJJ star decided to continue putting up bounties against his former teammates. Long after DDS has split into New Wave and B-Team, Ryan again took to Instagram to offer $500 to those who can win against Craig Jones and Nicky Rodriguez.
It’s worth noting that if Jones indeed loses, it’ll be funny how Ryan will have to send $500 to his bigger longterm rival in Felipe Peña.
How to watch, live stream details
UFC Fight Pass Invitational 4, as the name suggests, will be streamed live only on UFC Fight Pass. The event happens on June 29, Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET.
The event will happen at the UFC Apex center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Full fight card for UFC Fight Pass Invitational 4
Felipe Peña vs. Craig Jones
Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira
Nicholas Meregali vs. Roberto Abreu
Roman Bravo-Young vs. Alex Perez
Helena Crevar vs. Emily Fernandez
8-man absolute tournament:
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