Fight to win
Kyu Lee Photography
Fight to Win, appropriately dubbed the biggest party in grappling, will return to its roots in Denver, Colorado for its final show of 2021 on Friday December 3rd. The inaugural Fight to Win event took place in Denver on November 20, 2015. The 189th event will not only mark the last event of 2021, but also serves as a testament to the longevity of the promotion. While grappling super fight shows are popping up all over the world these days, few have stood the test of time and consistently delivered shows with both world-class and local talent competing on the same events.

One of the many reasons Fight to Win has continued to prosper, even throughout the pandemic, is that it uniquely combines both local up and coming grapplers and the highest level grapplers in the world on each card. Many professional jiu-jitsu shows start off with a bang, recruiting the best grapplers they can find for every event. While this has worked for some promotions, Fight to Win has gone with a more grass roots approach, with most of the competitors at any given event being from the town in which the event is taking place. One of the main benefits of this approach is that it brings new fans to the sport. Competitors will often invite friends and family who have never trained jiu-jitsu before and expose them not only to the matches, but also to the jiu-jitsu community at large. These initial introductions to the sport often lead viewers to gain an interest and start training at a local gym, which benefits both the super fight promotions and the entire jiu-jitsu community.

Fight to Win’s 189th event will be headlined by a no-gi match between Michael Liera Jr. and PJ Barch. Liera, a black belt under Andre Galvao of Atos, made a name for himself in the IBJJF circuit as a gi competitor. Under the IBJJF banner he won Pan and European championships as a black belt as well as World titles at blue, purple, and brown belts. Barch, on the other hand, is a 10th Planet representative who was promoted to black belt by Richie Martinez and Eddie Bravo. His grappling career began as in wrestling, ultimately going on to wrestle at a Division 1 collegiate program just before finding jiu-jitsu. Barch has won multiple no-gi super fight events, including Sapateiro, the Onnit Invitational, and the Emerald City Invitational. This match will be a very interesting clash of styles, as Liera will likely look to utilize his highly refined guard game while PJ will likely look to utilize a strategy focused on guard passing and leg lock attacks.

In the co-headlining match, 2021 No-Gi World Champions Hugo Marques will take on Jackson Nagai. Hugo is a black belt under Leandro Escobar of Soul Fighters and has won two No-Gi World titles at black belt since receiving the rank in 2017. Hugo also had a stellar career in the lower belts, utilizing his highly refined guard passing skills to win World, Brazilian National, and UAEJJ Grand Slam titles. Hugo’s opponent, Jackson Nagai, has built quite the resume himself. He placed 2nd at the 2020 IBJJF Pan Ams and holds wins over Guthierry Barbosa, Jeferson Guaresi, and Edwin Najmi. The match will serve as a precursor to the lightweight division at the 2021 IBJJF World Championships the following weekend, where both athletes will be seeking to win their first black belt world title.

You can catch all the action live on FloGrappling. Stay tuned to the Fight to Win social media pages for information regarding 2022 events.

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