With the third chapter of Submission Underground (SUG) in the books, one thing remains clear: Chael Sonnen and company are committed to bringing the world’s best grapplers to the state of Oregon. With a third straight sold out card, SUG has become a must see event for grappling fans in the Pacific Northwest and it is easy to see why. SUG isn’t just an event that boasts big names from the mixed martial arts community; It is a place for the best grapplers in the world to compete and according to Sonnen that isn’t about to change.
“There is a long waiting list [to get on a SUG card]but there are a limited number of spaces,” Sonnen said. “We want to bring in the big matches but we want return faces too. And I’ll tell you what, we won’t have a show that Gordon Ryan and Garry Tonon are not invited to participate on. Those guys delivered in every possible way … they wanted to be here, they didn’t care who their opponents were, what weight it was at, they just wanted a chance to compete. Those guys delivered in every possible way.”
Ryan and Tonon were clearly in their element at the event. The two New Jersey based grapplers and their cornermen came to the cage in top hats, crowns, gold chains, and sunglasses. The showmanship they displayed was top notch and the crowd loved it. At one point, two young ladies yelled for Ryan to “shake his booty” and the submission ace obliged them to a roar of laughter from the packed house.
SUG3 was heavy on trash talk, there seemed to be a record number of callouts and even some aggressive name-calling. One might think this is exactly what the king of trash talk, Chael Sonnen, would want. However, based on what Sonnen told me, he just wants people to have a chance to wrestle the guy they want to go up against.
“I don’t really care if someone calls someone out or not. But if someone wants to wrestle somebody we’re gonna ask them who they want. If they have an answer, well lets try to go get them that person. But these guys are the elite of the elite, this is the best rules system in the world, EBI (Eddie Bravo Invitational) rules are the most gangster rules out there. I just respect these guys, they really put it on the line.”
As far as the matches go, this event had a pair of major upsets to go along with all the fantastic finishes. Highly regarded jiu jitu player Jeff Glover fell victim to UFC standout Chad Mendes in a match that had everyone at the Roseland Theater on their feet. After being tapped by Glover in just 35 seconds of the first overtime period, Mendes had little time to get the win. With 35 seconds on the clock, Mendes locked up one of the fastest rear naked chokes I have ever seen applied and got the tap in just 9 seconds. Glover was shocked following the loss, when asked by Sonnen if he realized Mendes would get a chance following his tap of the wrestler he simply replied, “Nope.” This was clearly the biggest upset of the night and it was an electric moment for those in attendance.
One match prior to this, Garry Tonon faced off with Antonio Carlos Junior. Tonon seemed loose in the cage, even spring boarding off the chain-link early on in the match reaching for Carlos Junior’s neck. Unfortunately for Tonon, his calm demeanor didn’t help him see the flying triangle from his opponent. Tonon appeared shocked following the loss but he was very respectful in defeat, praising Carlos Junior and thanking the fans.
SUG3 closed out with a bang, or an expletive as it were. The evening’s main event pit Dillon Danis, jiu jitsu coach of Conor McGregor, against the 2014 World No-Gi Champion, AJ Agazarm. This match was rather lackluster, at many points the crowd seemed restless. In the end, Danis secured the victory and used his time on the microphone to call out his originally rumored opponent for SUG3, Jon Jones. As Danis was about to exit the cage he grabbed the microphone and said, “I’ve got one last thing to say, I just want to say, Jon Jones you’re a blanking blank.” Only he didn’t say blanking blank, he used actual profanities. The callout was serious and if Sonnen is a man of his word he will do as he said and try to make that match happen.