The stars are out Friday evening for Fight 2 Win 89.
Featuring a main event between UFC vets Augusto Mendes and Vagner Rocha as well as appearances from Jorge Santiago, Herbert Burns, Gesias Cavalcante, Jim Alers, and more, the card is loaded with appeal for MMA fans and BJJ fans alike.
If you're into the grappling arts—or if you just want to watch some MMA studs test their skills in a different realm—you're gonna need to crack a cold one and pull up a chair, because Friday's show promises to bring the magic.
Let's start at the top.
Augusto Mendes vs. Vagner Rocha
Mendes is one of the best grapplers on the planet. While MMA fans may remember "Tanquinho" most for his losses to Cody Garbrandt and Aljamain Sterling inside the Octagon, his best work comes in the world of BJJ, where he is—among other accolades—an IBJJF Worlds champion and a two-time IBJJF Worlds no-gi king.
The black belt is a wizard once he gets to the mats, and he faces a tough test against Rocha Friday evening.
Rocha is just mean. His style is ultra aggressive and he takes no prisoners as he violently searches for the finish. Rolling against Rocha looks horrible, and Mendes will have to overcome that aggression and power to defeat his foe Friday night.
The good news for Tanquinho: He's already bested Rocha before, winning via heel hook at the 2011 ADCCs.
Can Rocha avenge that defeat, or will Mendes prove too slick once again?
Mendes vs. Rocha is a prime matchup that will have fans glued to their phones, tablets, TVs, or computers, but there's plenty reason to catch Fight 2 Win 89 from the jump.
After a solid run of teen, purple belt, and brown belt matchups, things get juicy down in Miami, with notable black-belt-level MMA vets aplenty taking the mats to show off their grappling acumen.
First up in that class is Herbert Burns—brother to UFC lightweight and grappling star Gilbert Burns—who faces Josh Garcia in a 160-pound no-gi bout. The longtime ONE Championship vet Burns boasts a solid 6-2 record as a professional mixed martial artist, but his work as a BJJ practitioner is arguably even more impressive. He looks to put those skills on display Friday against Garcia.
Next up is former UFC featherweight Jim Alers, who faces Kevin Mahecha in a black belt gi matchup, while Jorge Santiago takes on Carlson Gracie's Andre Freire shortly after.
In 25 career victories inside the cage, Santiago notched 13 submissions and 10 knockouts, proving his finishing instinct is locked and loaded at all times. In his black belt matchup vs. Freire, we'll see if he can add another tapout to that impressive resume.
Following Santiago, Gesias “JZ" Cavalcante takes on a fellow World Series of Fighting veteran in Fred Moncaio.
Having fought the likes of Justin Gaethje, Isaac Vallie-Flagg, Shinya Aoki, and countless others, Cavalcante brings experience aplenty with him to the mats Friday night.
Will it be enough to wipe out Moncaio?