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Barnett submits Lister at Metamoris 4

Josh Barnett wins big
Josh Barnett wins big

Metamoris is a grappling event that pits world-class grapplers in a submission-only, 20-minute match. There are no points, no advantages, and no winner if the match does not end in a submission. The goal of the event is to introduce grappling to the masses in a way that makes everything but the submission irrelevant. The majority of contenders in Metamoris come from a sport BJJ background, but the matches are made even more interesting when grapplers of different disciplines square off to see who is best. Metamoris 4, which was held on August 9, pitted two such matchups: Andre Galvao (multiple time BJJ World Champion) against UFC vet Chael Sonnen (world-class wrestler) and Dean Lister (multiple time submission grappling champ and BJJ black belt) against UFC vet Josh Barnett (catch-as-catch-can wrestling expert).

The Galvao-Sonnen matchup might have been the show's main event, but it was clear to everyone that Sonnen had no real chance of submitting Galvao and winning the match. Metamoris 2 featured a similar match when UFC vet Brendan Schaub took on BJJ legend Ricardo "Cyborg" Abreu. That match became infamous for the way that Schaub ran from Cyborg for the full 20 minutes. Sonnen, on the other hand, went right after Galvao, earning a quick takedown as Galvao locked up the closed guard. Unfortunately, it was clear almost immediately that Sonnen could not pass Galvao's guard.

Unlike Schaub, Sonnen engaged the fight but could never find an opening to improve his position. Galvao eventually created a small opening and moved to Sonnen's back, at which point the match was all but over. Sonnen continued to fight gamely but obviously had no idea how to break the body triangle that Galvao locked in. From there, Galvao locked in a rear naked choke and Sonnen tapped. That result was no surprise. The Barnett-Lister match, on the other hand, was a real surprise.

Barnett is a tremendously skilled grappler. He is so skilled, in fact, that he won the world championship of no-gi in 2009, which is a sport BJJ contest. However, while he is recognized as a BJJ black belt, his focus is on catch-as-catch-can wrestling, which, while similar to BJJ, focuses a lot more on takedowns and top control until it is possible to earn whatever type of submission is possible. Lister, on the other hand, is a great BJJ fighter known for his leg locking skills.

Their match started as many expected, with Lister pulling guard. Barnett, the much heavier of the two, used pressure and patience to find an opening and pass Lister's guard. Barnett completely dominated the match from that point, using his superior size and dominant top game to control Lister. The control was so dominant that many fans found the match boring as not much seemed to be happening, but from a pure technique standpoint it was amazing to watch a world-class grappler like Lister, who had not been submitted in competition for 16 years, get manhandled.

Barnett did not just "lay and pray" either. He patiently looked for opportunities to improve his position and found a few as he locked in a kimura a few times, but Lister managed to defend each time. However, with just under a minute remaining, Barnett suddenly exploded and worked his way to a side headlock position, pulling Lister's head up while applying a steady heap of pressure to Lister's sternum. Unable to breath and feeling an immense amount pressure, Lister had no choice but to tap with just about ten seconds remaining.

Metamoris 4 was a great event that featured some fantastic submission wrestling matches. BJJ is a tremendous grappling art to be sure, but that does not mean that it is the "best" grappling art. Wrestling is a great art as well, and Josh Barnett showed just how effective a wrestler with strong submission skills can be. The lesson every grappler can learn from that match is that all things being equal, pressure and patience will win. As Denzel Washington said in Remember the Titans: "it's like Novocaine: just give it time - it always works."

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