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MMA legend and UFC Hall of Famer Kazushi Sakuraba is looking to build the next great grappling platform in combat sports, and it starts on Wednesday with the debut of the QUINTET submission grappling event.
QUINTET, which streams on UFC Fight Pass at 3 a.m. ET from Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, is a unique five-on-five, winner-stays-on team submission event. It’s Sakuraba’s vision and will see 20 athletes divided into four teams of five. Those teams will then compete against each other in single-elimination, team-vs.-team matches.
In Sakuraba’s mind, QUINTET is positioned to mesh the best aspects of competitive grappling with the pageantry of professional wrestling.
“One of the things that PRIDE did best was mix the fun factor of pro wrestling with the reality of competition,” Sakuraba said. “I wanted to create an event that I, as a fan, would love to see myself. There will be a lot of strategy. Each team has bigger fighters and smaller fighters – but it is up to them which order they fight. One team may decide to start off with a heavyweight, and the opposing team may decide to save their biggest athlete until last, where he could be facing an exhausted and smaller opponent.”
Over the past several years there have been a bevy of new grappling promotions looking to elevate the sport. Almost every one has a distinct rule set to boost entertainment value and keep the action flowing. The approach with QUINTET is no different, because it encourages offense and penalizes stalling or the failure to secure a submission.
READ: Complete QUINTET rule set
When it came to crafting the image of QUINTET, Sakuraba enlisted the aid of former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett (35-8 MMA, 7-3 UFC). Not only did Barnett help craft the rules for the competition, but he will be participating in the inaugural event, as well.
“It’s probably been a year in the making at least,” Barnett said. “Sakuraba approached me to help and be on the business side of things and help with the athletes, and be a participant as well. I’ve definitely got skin in the game on this and I want to see it succeed. It’s a very exciting grappling-based that should turn a lot of heads. I like that the unique format is very action-oriented. There are rules in there that we put in there to reduce stalling and to keep activity.”
QUINTET is the cornerstone feature of the second “PRIDE Never Die” week on UFC Fight Pass. Barnett said there’s hope the series will take off in Japan, with the possibility of expanding operations into other regions in the future.
In addition to Barnett’s participation, QUINTET also includes notable such as PRIDE vet Daisuke Nakamura, 2008 Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii and former UFC title challenger Caol Uno.
For more on upcoming events, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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