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The Rise of El Cucuy

October 9, 2017

Sao Paulo, Brazil. May 17, 2003.

Gustavo Dantas walks on to the mat of the Ibirapuera Gymnasium for the opening match of the 66kg bracket of the world renowned ADCC tournament.

Dantas is a heavy favorite with the fans.

The Brazilian was buoyed on by the support of his compatriots and is expected to win – after all he is a black belt from the illustrious Nova Uniao academy and his opponent was a relatively inexperienced American brown belt – Eddie Bravo.

Within minutes it was clear that Bravo was no normal brown belt.

His skills were impeccable, his timing was flawless and he made light work of Dantas, submitting him with a tight rear naked choke.

Bravo, a student of Jean Jacques Machado, caused some eyebrows to rise with his performance against Dantas but what happened in his next match would define his legacy. In the space of ten minutes, Bravo would go from relative anonymity to jiu-jitsu legend status.

Across the mat from Eddie Bravo stood Royler Gracie, a standout among a family of masters. All those in attendance waited with bated breath for their idol to tear through Bravo, but that would not be the case.

Bravo navigated Royler’s high-energy game and nullified it, much to the astonishment of the partisan crowd.

Jaws dropped as the American locked up a picture perfect triangle choke and tapped out Royler Gracie.

For many; submitting Royler Gracie would be the peak of their career. Bravo, however, made his way back to California.. another dream percolated in his consciousness, Bravo wanted to create a style of jiu jitsu that would work in mixed martial arts.

On Saturday night, some 14 years after his ADCC upset over Royler, his second dream was realised as his student Tony Ferguson became a UFC champion.

When Tony Ferguson emerged on the MMA sphere in the Ultimate Fighter, he was known for his aggressive striking and heavy hands.

The California native made easy work of the rest of the cast before winning the series and in his early UFC career he looked as though he was destined for stardom.

El Cucuy’s UFC tenure was off to a sterling start before some holes became apparent, he lost to Michael Johnson and when he faced Danny Castillo, he struggled to get any offence going from his back before being neutralised for large portions of the fight.

Being a perfectionist, Ferguson noted the holes in his game and enlisted 10th Planet founder Eddie Bravo to tighten up his ground game.

Bravo is as technical as they come and when he began to work with Ferguson the pair hit it off like wildfire.

Ferguson began to embrace the 10th Planet system and it paid off immediately, with the burgeoning star scoring two submissions in a row, which kicked off a winning streak that would incompass a further 3 submission victories.

As a practitioner of the 10th Planet System, last night’s performance struck me as simply amazing. Ferguson almost caught Kevin Lee in a slick armbar, but Lee to his credit, escaped masterfully at the final second.

The finish was special for the system, and interesting for me personally as just last week one of the classes focused in on  that exact triangle finish (finishing with the arm on the other side of the body), which really showed me how strong our coaching network is.

For Bravo and 10th Planet this is another positive piece of publicity, the culmination of our leader’s lifetime of work and then next step in the rise of the 10th Planet. As Ferguson ebs closer to a title unification bout with Conor McGregor, we can only expect our system to grow.

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