5 grappling promotions every MMA fan should be following

Photo by Amy Kaplan/FanSided
Photo by Amy Kaplan/FanSided /

From point-based to submission-only to team grappling formats, here are five grappling promotions every MMA fan should be watching.

Maybe you’re an MMA fan looking to round out your fandom with a deeper understanding of the grappling arts. Maybe you’ve taken up Brazilian jiu-jitsu and you’re becoming an MMA fan in the process. Maybe you just can’t get enough combat sports in your life. Whatever your reason for watching might be, the explosion of submission grappling and competitive BJJ over the past decade has given fans plenty of options from which to choose.

Grappling promotions around the world utilize a variety of rulesets, formats, and competitors. To help fans make sense of it all, below are five grappling shows every MMA fan should be following.

Polaris Pro Grappling

Since its first event in 2015, Polaris has consistently matched the best grapplers in the world against each other in exciting, submission-only gi and no-gi matches. Polaris will occasionally showcase well-known MMA fighters like Urijah Faber or Luke Rockhold, but the vast majority of Polaris competitors are grapplers, first and foremost. The MMA fighters that do appear on Polaris cards tend to have a deep background in grappling; this includes the likes of Benson Henderson, AJ Agazarm, Marcin Held, Dillon Danis, Jake Shields and Garry Tonon.

Polaris uses a ruleset that ensures action. Each main card match is a 15-minute submission-only bout, but judges are scoring each five-minute period in favor of the more aggressive grappler. This way, grapplers are encouraged to attack throughout the duration of the match.

Polaris is a must-watch for fans looking to see the cutting edge of grappling technique at the highest level, as well as MMA fans trying to dip their toes in the world of competitive grappling. The best grapplers in the world are matched against each other under a fun ruleset, all backed with high-quality production. The next Polaris event is an Absolute Grand Prix tournament scheduled for April 4, 2020.

Fight 2 Win

Fight 2 Win is the workhorse of the submission grappling world. With professional grappling shows around the country nearly every week, Fight 2 Win pumps out a steady stream of high level grappling year-round. And while much of each event is filled with local competitors, that doesn’t mean that some of the best grapplers in the world, as well as elite MMA fighters, don’t regularly compete on Fight 2 Win shows. Stipe Miocic, Agazarm, Henderson, and Augusto Mendes have all grappled on a Fight 2 Win show.

Like Polaris, Fight 2 Win matches are submission-only, with a judges’ decision in the event of no submission. The events tend to be heavy on gi matches, exposing fans to a slower, more traditional (and arguably more technical) type of grappling.

Submission Underground

Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground is making a concerted effort to convert MMA fans into full-fledged grappling fans. For starters, all Submission Underground matches take place in a cage, ensuring there are no breaks in the action as the competitors re-set after going out of bounds. Moreover, the promotion goes heavy on MMA fighters with familiar names, rather than relying on grappling specialists to fill their cards. Jon Jones, Dan Henderson, Mike Perry, Al Iaquinta, and Austin Vanderford have all appeared on Submission Underground cards.

One innovation Submission Underground has recently introduced is tag team grappling. Not unlike a tag team match in professional wrestling, competitors are able to “tag in” a teammate in the middle of the action, leading to some interesting scrambles.

There are no judges in Submission Underground; in the event of no submission in regulation, there is overtime that mirrors the Eddie Bravo Invitational format in which grapplers must submit or escape from precarious positions faster than their opponent.


Quintet is the brainchild of MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba. What sets Quintet apart more than anything else is its first-of-a-kind team grappling format. Teams of five grapplers each compete against each other in a winner-stays-on, head-to-head format. Because each team needs to meet a total rather than individual weight limit, interesting match-ups of huge size discrepancies are not uncommon in Quintet. Additionally, Quintet officials are quick to call any competitor for stalling, which leads to incredibly fast-paced matches.

Recently, Quintet made a clear attempt to capture the attention of MMA fans with its Quintet Ultra event, which featured fighters from the UFC, Pride, Strikeforce, and the WEC competing on teams from their respective promotions. Quintet’s all-action matches, unique match-ups, and fun team format make it a show that’s easily digestible for an MMA fan looking into the submission grappling world.

Kasai Pro

With just seven events over the course of its roughly two-year history, Kasai Pro is a grappling promotion that tends to focus on quality over quantity. To that end, fans are unlikely to find MMA fighters moonlighting in one-off grappling matches at a Kasai show. Instead, fans can expect to see the best grappling specialists in the world competing against other specialists. For that reason, Kasai is the perfect promotion for an MMA fan looking to dive headfirst into competitive grappling.

Unlike the other promotions on this list, Kasai uses a traditional points system to determine matches rather than a submission-only format. In addition to superfights and undercards that are stacked with local grappling talent, Kasai often uses a tournament format that will see grapplers compete up to four times in one night. While short on recognizable MMA names, Kasai boasts a stable of elite BJJ champions like Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, Kanyan Duarte, Matheus Diniz, and Joao Miyao.

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