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Why Rodolfo Vieira's Top Game Could Win Him $100k
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Why Rodolfo Vieira's Top Game Could Win Him $100k

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The upcoming Spyder Invitational features one of the best lineups we’ve seen in pro jiu-jitsu to date. And that’s saying a lot because a string of talent-packed cards have popped up lately. Shows like BJJ Stars, ACB, and KASAI Pro come to mind, but there’s one x-factor that these events never had…Rodolfo Vieira.

The multiple-time world champion and now UFC contender shed the gi in 2016 in favor of the mitts, and has been relatively inactive on the grappling scene since.

Which is what makes the Spyder event so interesting.

Will we get the aggressive, explosive, guard-crushing GF Team savage that gave Buchecha some of his best battles ever, or an older, more mature grappler with hints of mat-rust?

With $100k on the line you’d have to expect Rodolfo will come prepared and ready with his A game.

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What We Know

The last time we saw Rodolfo Vieria in the gi was in 2018 at the Black Belt CBD invitational, which he won and walked away with $30k. He only had two matches but from those two bouts we saw a Rodolfo who looked like he hadn’t lost a step.

Maybe a bit less confident in his takedowns but his technique was crisp and controlled. It wasn’t anywhere near a sloppy, over-aggressive display you might expect from an MMA fighter who slapped on the gi for a quick pay day.

Instead, he handily submitted his first opponent Kit Dale. Then he swept the massive Mahamed Aly with a silky smooth x-guard sweep which he nearly turned into a submission.

So although we don’t know what his training has been like, we do know that his technique is still sharp and he’s in shape.

Rodolfo has always been a physical specimen, but knowing the brutality of MMA and the need for as much physical conditioning as possible, we can assume his heart and lungs are ready for Spyder.

It’s also rumored that the heavyweight is training with an old rival and now friend, Marcus Buchecha. If true, we can expect him to show up in Korea ready for anything.

The Spyder Invitational Match-Ups

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With the 8-man single elimination bracket we can never be sure who will face who, but we do know one thing, Rodolfo Vieira will face Anderson Munis in the opening match.

Rodolfo Vieira VS Anderson Munis

Munis is a young upcoming brown belt with loads of talent and one main physical gift that has allowed him to dominate at the lower ranks, his height.

At 6’5 the Alliance up-and-comer has a devastating spider/lasso guard that he uses to sweep nearly everyone he encounters. Munis is the 2019 purple belt weight and absolute IBJJF World Champion and had an impressive display at the last Spyder event where he made it to the podium against a pool fool of elite black belts.

So although this may look like a mismatch at first, do not count Munis out. At 21 years old, he’s only getting better.

But we can assume that Rodolfo will take the top position in this one, right where he wants to be. The trick will be to nullify Munis’ long legs and get to a smashing position as soon as possible. The longer Rodolfo gives Munis to work underneath him, the quicker his window closes to advance.

If Rodolfo can get to his favorited side smash or half guard with head control, his crushing pressure should be enough to evade the sweeps of Munis and get to the next round.

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Rodolfo Vieira VS Kaynan Duarte or Leandro Lo

The semi-final match will be one you won’t want to miss regardless of who makes it out of the first round. With either 2019 World Champion Kaynan Duarte and multiple-time world champ Leandro Lo waiting for Rodolfo in the second match, it’s going to be an epic battle either way.

When Rodolfo was an active competitor he was known for his brutal takedowns. Equipped with a stunning drop Seoi Nage and powerful double leg, any competitor will think twice before standing with Rodolfo. And with ground submissions as his main form of attack in MMA, you’d have to expect he hasn’t slacked off in the takedown department lately.

So, again, Rodolfo’s top game is what could get him to the money match.

The thing with Kaynan and Lo is that they both play a similar style of guard, the single leg X or some kind of hybrid like De La Riva/Spider.

Both of those guards are mainly used to sweep as opposed to attack, so again, the quicker Rodolfo can settle his base and close the space the better it will be for him.

But here’s the problem with Kaynan and Lo.

Kaynan has shown he’s talented from everywhere. He’s got a vicious toe hold and guillotine, and he can pass just as well as he can play guard. He's also the 2018 Spyder +76kg and absolute champ, and he may be the strongest guy in the event.

The problem with Lo is a bit different.

Lo knows how to score. A master at clock management and point strategy, Lo has won many of his titles on simply being up on the board when the clock runs out. He also brings the fight and his scrappy style has brought him much success in the past.

Recently, however, Lo hasn’t been the competitor we known him to be. With that said, he also made it to the 2019 World finals at weight and absolute and absolute finals at Pans. You can never count him out.

Regardless of who Rodolfo will face in round two, the strategy will likely be the same. Assume top position, take away the opponent’s weapons by closing the distance, and advance with unrelenting pressure.

Rodolfo VS Meregali

Again we have no idea who will advance from the other side of the bracket but with the way things are going we imagine it will be Nicholas Meregali.

The young Alliance talent has been unstoppable lately, with a huge win over a devastating pool of sharks at the recent BJJ Stars event and a dominant showing in his weight class at Worlds in June.

We know Meregali will likely pull guard and try to get to his favorite position, De La Riva-X. His long limbs make this position ideal because he can sweep or take the back. Meregali is a master at back takes and finishes the majority of his opponents from there.

He brilliantly used the omoplata, however, to sweep Mahamed Aly in the worlds super-heavy final, which he turned into a back take and then finished with a collar choke.

But if there’s one thing we know about how to shut down pesky, lanky guards, it’s through bone-crushing pressure. Those long levers once used as a weapon become a hinderance when the space is closed. Where a smaller, shorter limbed opponent may be able to re-guard, the lanky athlete is thwarted with the lack of mobility.

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Rodolfo’s Secret Weapon

It’s no mystery that Rodolfo was and still is known for his devastating pressure and top game but he has a secret weapon that get’s little attention, his guard.

Long before Rodolfo came to be known for his brutal takedowns and passes he was a guard player.

An expert from the X-guard and its variations, De La Riva, and Reverse DLR, Rodolfo has used his versatile guard to sweep notable top game players like Andre Galvao, Buchecha, and most recently Mahamed Aly.

Even if he does topple to one of the guardeiros mentioned above, can you remember the last time you saw Rodolfo submit in the gi?

With smart clock management he should be able to exert his guard game with effect in the unlikely chance he finds himself on his back.

Ultimately, however, Rodolfo’s top pressure could be the factor that makes him $100k richer come November 23rd.

 

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