PGF Season 5: Egghead’s Draft Rankings
IT’S DRAFT DAY!!!!! Well, almost draft day. It’s very nearly Mock Draft Day where the Professional Grappling Federation (PGF) Insiders PLUS a Special Guest – a PGF ALUMNUS – will step into the shoes of the PGF Season 5 Managers and draft some teams. This Mock Draft will be LIVE on Brandon Mccaghren‘s YouTube Channel this upcoming Sunday, 22 October. The Mock Draft will be done in a Snake Draft fashion where the order will go 1, 2, 3, 4, 4,3, 2, 1, 1…and so on. While this Mock Draft and the accompanying banter is highly entertaining, it also has real implications. The PGF Insiders and their Special Guest will be tracking how their teams do throughout the season with some bets on the line. But more importantly, the Mock Draft results will drive the Draft Order of the Real PGF Draft which will happen on 29 October. The Real PGF Season 5 Draft will be an AUCTION DRAFT. Where competitors will take their places on the auction blocks and the Managers will have to bid for them – with the highest bidder adding the new competitor on their team.
But before visiting the DRAFT Board, here are some overarching factors for how this board was constructed:
Ruleset: One of the true innovations of the PGF, Brandon Mccaghren designed a ruleset which DEMANDED actions and submissions. Competitors have a finite amount of matches with which to earn points towards their total in the hopes of making the post-season finale tournament. The matches are only six minutes driving the sense of urgency for competitors. The ONLY WAY for competitors to garner points during their matches is to SECURE A SUBMISSION – either a KILL (a choke for six points) or a BREAK (a joint lock for three points). Moreover, any submission within one minute gets the extra Elbow Genie Point (EGP). The PGF ruleset is singular. So many competitors who have trained to win wrestling-heavy ADCC matches or Who’s Number One matches that include decisions have exhibited some difficulties getting into the quick-submission mindset of the PGF. One saying in combat sports is “the rules make the match,” so maybe those competitors who compete in points-based matches or matches with decisions are only playing to the ruleset. Still, in the end, there are no decisions or points matches in the PGF; you either get a submission or the match earns you the same amount of points as a loss.
Jiu Jitsu Competition Math…or at least the the Transitive Property. If Grappler A beats Grappler B, and Grappler B beats Grappler C.; then, one can assume Grappler A can beat Grappler C. In football, detractors of this application of mathematics’ transitive property would say a team can beat any other team on “Any Given Sunday” or words to that effect. So, while this board considers this Jiu Jitsu transitive property, the Editorial Board for EggheadWarrior.com understands those comparisons are not perfect. Still, in a wicked environment of limited data, one must use some rubric for analysis.
Limited Data: This analysis is performed FROM AFAR. The Editorial Board at EggheadWarrior.com has limited resources like everyone. The vast majority of this analysis has to be done from afar. Just like you reading this post, this analysis is done from the vantage point of the other side of a screen. Only publicly available matches have been used in this analysis (yes, FloGrappling is behind a paywall, but heading up to this season the Editorial Board made the investment to allow for better analysis of competitors). Remember, if a competitor has had some amazing underground kumite matches proving he is the man who will win PGF Season or you happen to see the competitor every day in the gym and “know” they will win it all – great, you have an inside advantage. Again, this analysis is completed with imperfect information, but it’s the only way to do it.
DISCLAIMER: A la Bernardo Faria, it is a huge honor for the Editorial Board of EggheadWarrior.com to write about all the competitors of the PGF. We’re huge fans, arguably some of the first super fans of the PGF. We want everyone to have a great time and would be happy if any of the competitors won the whole thing. However, as journalists, we are trying to give as objective an opinion as possible as to how to rack and stack folks for the draft. If you look back to our boards in previous years, they did pretty well. If any competitor doesn’t like their ranking, then they have every right to prove their ranking wrong during the season and call out EggheadWarrior.com when they do so. That’s only fair. Okay, the disclaimer provided on the advice of counsel is now over.
While this board has rankings, the Editorial Board of EggheadWarrior.com has provided Tiers acknowledging some margin for error and that reasonable minds can disagree. Without further ado, here’s the DRAFT BOARD.
TIER 1 – THE SURE THINGS:
This tier will get you POINTS. In normal EggHeadWarrior.com fantasy pick analysis, they would be considered SUPER PREMIUMS – worth their expense and assured points winners but they may hurt your ability to fill out your team later on. Still, history has shown the “sure things” have driven teams to victory more often than not.
Seriously, no matter what you’ve heard, YOU CANNOT PICK AGAINST ELIJAH CARLTON IN THE PGF! He ran through the competition in Season 1 (members only) and ran through them all again (including multiple competitors this season) in Season 2 (with the exception of one gentleman). Then, Elijah came back and subbed almost everyone in Season 3 (only two draws before an injury forced him not to attend the finale). Elijah’s guard is preternatural. He has lightning quick leg locks and ridiculous triangle setups. Oh yeah, he can choke folks as well. He’s the Royce Gracie of the PGF and he will likely be the highest paid competitor this season (and rightly so).
That said, the Editorial Board at EggheadWarrior.com has come out saying they believe Matt Elkins could legitimately win this season. He has the college wrestling and mma background. But more importantly, the Commissioner, Brandon Mccaghren has said Elkins is 5X the grappler he was when we last saw him in Season 2. While others on this roster might be able to compete with Elkins’ wrestling pedigree, Elkins gets subs; moreover, he gets KILLS! The name of the game in the PGF is submissions and Elkins can get them for his team.
Okay, take a pause in your reading of this article and watch a quick breakdown of Fedor by the Commissioner and Master Eddie Bravo HERE. Eddie Bravo found the jiu jitsu equivalent of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV and made him his personal project. Previously the head instructor at 10th Planet Saint Petersburg (Russia), Fedor is now training out of 10th Planet HQ in Los Angeles directly training under the mad genius Eddie Bravo. You’ve seen Fedor with a 10th Planet CJJ Qualifier. You’ve probably seen him elsewhere. as he’s been in high-profile events. You likely haven’t seen this man smile as he’s the new PGF Terminator (much love to Noah Randolph and Kevin Primeau). His match against Haisam Rida at UFC Invitational showed Fedor has no problems handling strong opponents (Rida had more than 20lbs on Fedor), but he also has excellent EBI overtime skills which will come into play during the PGF Finale. Many folks are already calling Fedor the new Hunter Colvin of the PGF – meaning, he’s the professional grappler that’s going to come in and HANDLE everyone.
TIER 2 – THE SUBMISSION HUNTERS:
ABC: Always Be Closing. These competitors have shown serious submissions and an almost inherent desire to hunt for those submissions. They’re not happy to finish on top; they want to kill you or take one of your appendages home. These gentlemen might not “dominate fights,” but they’re almost assured to put points on the board.
The Minnesota Maniac is the consensus EggheahWarrior.com Editorial Board Dark Horse TO WIN IT ALL!!! He has sick leg attacks and lately has an awesome anaconda he works from a wrestle-up position. His swords are SHARP and ready to BREAK or KILL. If you want some examples look at his work HERE. EggheadWarrior.com researchers put timestamps in the comments to help everyone. Seriously, if Craton gets a hold of someone, they better “hold onto [their] butts” as Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Jurassic Park would say.
The Handsome Belt Title Holder needs no introduction, but if you are in the unaware, please check out this article. Handsome Kevin is not only the Handsome Belt Title Holder, he was also runner-up for the PGF Season 3 title. Handsome Kevin is a lifelong grappler: a state champion in Georgia, a former Division 1 wrestler at Northern Iowa, and a brown belt currently under LHM which is led by a group of black belts including your -99kg East Coast Trials Champion Paul Ardila. Formerly of 10th Planet Atlanta, he now runs his own group as well as training under LHM as well as cross training at half a dozen gyms in the Atlanta area. For PGF purposes, in his first season (Season 3), Handsome Kevin put up a 33% KILL rate, meaning he puts POINTS ON THE BOARD. Eventually, he was the PGF Season 3 runner-up. That was his first PGF experience, but now that he’s been through the gauntlet and understood the sub-only six-minute match system, one has to wager Handsome Kevin will put up even more points. He has the wrestling to control the fight with most competitors and the submissions from anywhere to handle the rest.
The Rock Troll has been training jiu jitsu since he was 12! That’s a whole life spent finding ways to BREAK or KILL folks. Maximus Prime was THE BREAKOUT STAR of PGF Season 4. The Rock Troll has entered multiple PGF Qualifiers over two seasons and FINISHED all his opponents. In PGF Season 4, the only Quintet format PGF Season, Maximus slew multiple opponents, multiple times. Opponents aren’t safe even when they think they are…the Rock Troll will grip and rip any appendage he finds handy to solid effect. He might be a little undersized for this season, but his game is made for being undersized. He can get KILLS, but his game is using his trunk to break other competitors appendages – and he will. Fans wanting to know more about the Rock Troll can check out THIS ARTICLE.
Moose hit the first fly trap seen in PGF history at the Los Angeles Qualifier. This man wakes up and CHOOSES VIOLENCE! (Kiaya – he’s the poster child for your brand). Watch him call out all the highly regarded PGF vets HERE. Admittedly, there’s little footage of him on the interwebs. His Instagram is the best source of footage on him outside of the Qualifier. This ranking may be a bit high given the sample size available on the Young Moose, but anyone who chooses violence every day and trains under Jeremiah Vance is going to be very dangerous. To be sure, fans of those ranked below may poo poo this ranking, but remember, the PGF rewards a killer instinct and the Young Moose has it.
TIER 3 – THE WRESTLERS:
Aristotle said “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Wrestling is the most grueling endeavor in which a man can engage. Wrestlers have earned pride in their wrestling abilities. This pride often leads to pride and “wrestle-offs” in matches. These gentlemen all have extremely good wrestling and solid fundamentals, but have shown some issues getting submission, relying on their wrestling and top pressure for wins via points or decision. This possible reliance won’t score points in the PGF and has weighed down their draft rankings. But if they can adopt the PGF mindset, they could wreck a lot of folks in this competition.
A veteran of PGF Season 2 and a Coach for PGF Season 4, Kemoy has a wide range of skills. He’s a solid wrestler, with tear-your-arm off kimuras, flying triangles, and quick guillotines. But Kemoy may not put us as many points in the PGF’s six-minute, sub-only format as one might think at first glance. Looking at his past 10 matches on FloGrappling, Kemoy has only one submission. Looking at his matches on Smoothcomp, he has three submissions, but overall mixed results over the last year. In PGF Season 2, he was 5-5-5, so evenly spread amongst wins, losses, and draws and his wins were about evenly split between kills and breaks. To be fair, Season 2 was at 220lb and Kemoy faced a lot of big guys; at the PGF Season 5 185lb weight class, Kemoy will have a better strength advantage. While Kemoy is super resilient against tough opponents and can punish other opponents, his experience in other formats with options for EBI overtimes or decision victories may have settled him into the habit of controlling more than finishing. Kemoy might overperform his Season 2 stats, but odds are he’s fighting to get to the finale as he did during PGF Season 2. Still, Kemoy has competed in one season and coached another. If he has internalized the PGF ruleset, the he’ll make the Finale with room to spare.
Cameron Hurd screams DESTROYER OF WORLDS! He’s a Virginia Tech wrestler whose passion for competition is SOLIDLY there. He’s the type of grappler that will launch opponents into the air or hit them with the Earth. He doesn’t care about boundaries. He’s willing to keep fighting until the ref pulls him off his opponent. At the same time, the researchers at Eggheadwarrior.com reviewed the first 15 Cameron Hurd matches found in FloGrappling. They found only two submissions. While Cameron Hurd won the majority of matches and almost always won the wrestling, he only secured one mounted guillotine and one head and arm choke. To be fair, two of those matches were against very strong competition in the form of Andy Varela and Kyle Chambers. In the Virginia regional scene, Hurd has had more submissions but still had a high rate of wins via points or decision. His wrestling and top pressure will wear down a number of his opponents this season. He will get a number of KILLS by wearing down his opponents will to fight. In the PGF, the two best previous wrestlers were Jake Elkins and Randy Roden. Jake was a purple belt who went 10-4-1 with a 40% KILL rate. Randy over his two-season career is 2-12-13 with a 4% KILL rate. The question for the Team Managers, Fans, and Fantasy Team Managers this season is will Cam more approximate the dominate wrestling along with submission of Jake Elkins or will he exhibit the dominant wrestling and resilience of Randy Roden, lacking the submissions? Faced with this question, the Editorial Board at EggheadWarrior.com ranks him 9th on the Board. But, to be sure, Cam has SERIOUS upside from this position. If he goes submission hunting early, he could be SCARY GOOD in the PGF ruleset.
Sam comes with a serious wrestling background as well. He was a NJCAA All American while attending Nassau Community College, then wrestled again at NYU. At the PGF Los Angeles Qualifier, Sam showed some serious positional dominance and great motor. His skill and work ethic garnered a decision win over Fedor above and an invite from that qualifier. He has some serious wins in his past including a win over Nathan Orchard in the 2022 ADCC West Coast Trials (4-0). He has submissions in his record including a nasty banana split which was the first sanction grappling match submission in New York history. While he might revert back to his wrestling roots, Sam has been directly taught and mentored by Eddie Bravo as can be seen HERE (btw, watch the video and be jealous of anyone who gets coached by Eddie Bravo). Anyone who has earned their blue and purple belts directly from Eddie Bravo is DANGEROUS. Sam could easily put this ranking to shame with a hard core PGF run.
TIER 4 – THE WILDCARDS:
These gentlemen have just enough information out there to suggest they can be VERY dangerous. The same information suggests these gentlemen could rack up a lot of losses. Drafts are often won in the later rounds and picking the right one of these competitors for a Manager’s team could lead them to victory.
Anakin has deemed himself the standard bearer for his gym, putting a lot of pressure on himself. But it’s his opponents who will be pressured. His gym prides themselves on back takes and leg breaks – and Anakin epitomizes their mantra. He’s exactly the type of athlete PGF fans will love. Of his 19 matches available on Flograppling, he scored 7 breaks, with 5 of them in less than one minute. If Anakin can keep those stats in the PGF, he’d rank 8th All Time in Break% and 2nd All Time in Elbow Genie Point%. But perhaps the match that really captures Anakin McMahan’s mentality is his match against Christian Tremayne in the ADCC Chicago Open. Tied 4-4 with 15 seconds left, Anakin didn’t try to get another point or stall for overtime – he scored a submission with five seconds left. Anakin’s going to have some losses for sure – anyone that hunts submissions like Anakin gives their opponents openings – but Anakin’s DEFINITELY going to rack up some exciting wins.
Travis is an up and coming MMA fighter. He’s the fastest promoted student from 10th Planet Decatur to both blue and purple belt. Like so many young men, he first didn’t know what to do with himself in adulthood. He lost his way for a bit. Rest assured, he’s found his path now. Thomas is a WARRIOR (full stop). He absorbs lessons at a ridiculously high rate. His athleticism and work ethic from MMA will make him DANGEROUS. He’s going to be the steal of the draft. This Purple belt has been submitting black belts visiting 10th Planet Decatur for some time. Given his MMA conditioning and grit as well as his insanely fast learning, The MANTIS is going to be A PROBLEM for his opponents this season!
Your PGF Huntsville Qualifier winner, Buddha had a great interview with the PGF Insiders. He’s been training jiu jitsu for less than three years. He was a part of a small, but highly qualified high school wrestling program at Mount Zion High School (state qualifiers all four years). Even Buddha would admit he’s finally reaching his grappling potential, having the mental blocks so many competitors have. Now that it’s all clicking, his athleticism, wrestling, and the subs he’s constantly improving will have him running over many of his competitors and doing that Buddha shuffle afterwards.
Jacob is a solid guy and has been in the fight game a minute. He knows his high-level competition time is growing thin. This realization makes him a very dangerous man. He’s amassed some great wins over the years but nothing recently demanding a higher ranking. Still, as he said in his interview, he thinks everything is coming together for a serious run at greatness. PGF fans have seen black belts go low in drafts previously; they’ve also seen these low round picks invigorated and motivated this way. Jacob isn’t shying a way from any challenges and will have a chip on his shoulder when facing the competitors of any Manager that passed on him. Any fan who wants to learn more about Jacob can watch his interview HERE.
TIER 5 – THE UPSIDES:
Rounding out the rest of the roster are gentlemen with limited footage available online. Many of them are new competitors, trying to make a name for themselves. One of them has already made himself a PGF legend and is looking for one last go at PGF glory. While these gentlemen are at the bottom of the draft board, they all share the hunger to prove they belong. This hunger will lead to exciting matches and finding ways to contribute to their teams.
Your PGF Nashville Qualifier winner, is an enigma. From the handful of matches available online, he’s an open-guard puller and a leg locker. His run at the Nashville Qualifier was masterful, especially for such a young man. He’s a question mark and could be a great value pick here.
16. Paul Bahri – Blue Belt at 10th Planet Jacksonville
Looking at his previous matches available online, which number about two, Bahri will be voted most likely to have to be ordered to wear a rash guard. But seriously, he’s a serious athlete with non-stop cardio – what would you expect from a former semi-pro soccer player. Don’t get twisted with the mention of the sport soccer, he’s a beast of a competitor and will grind out matches. He won his way to the PGF at the Jacksonville Qualifier. Other than that qualifier, the researchers here can only find one other match online, a Submission Grappling Series match from more than one year ago. Rest assured, his coach and team at 10th Planet Jacksonville will have him primed for a solid run during this season. Fans that want to know more about Paul Bahri can look HERE.
17. Matthew DeWees – Blue Belt at 10th Planet Jacksonville
Young Matthew is just that – a newcomer to the jiu jitsu game. Still, he trains at a school known for PGF standouts such as Sam Barbosa and Manning Leverett. With those veterans mentoring him, he should definitely have an idea of what’s in store for him during the crucible that is the PGF. Young Matthew was the first qualifier to lose via tie to his friend ranked on above him – this was at the Jacksonville Qualifier. Young Matthew didn’t let that deter him, he traveled to the PGF Nashville Qualifier and put together some nice wins to secure an invitation to the regular season. He’s soft spoken, but don’t sleep on his skills. Fans who want to know more about Young Matthew can watch his PGF Insiders interview HERE.
18. Sawyer Griffin – Purple Belt at 10th Planet Decatur
A consummate fan of the PGF, he has lived and breathed PGF since it’s inception. He trains under the Commissioner and the Voice of the PGF. Earning a purple belt under them is akin to earning a brown belt most other places (they really love making folks “cook”). Sawyer has taken out both individuals ranked below him in the Decatur Qualifier. competition and he’s shown some ridiculous back takes. He even has a win in competition over the Rock Troll seen above. Sawyer is very, very disciplined in his training and diet; and as mentioned, a very serious student of the PGF. He’s going to surprise some folks and get some kills for sure this season. More information available in his full profile article HERE.
Thigpen is a submission hunter! But the BLUF is Carson Thigpen is a former college athlete with some serious quick twitch muscles and a competitive drive. He’s still a blue belt but every season a blue belt come along and wrecks a number of higher belts…this season it could be Carson Thigpen. He had some impressive showings at multiple qualifiers for Season 4 but suffered an injury just weeks before the regular season began, forcing him to pull out. Now, he’s earned his spot via his PGF Decatur Qualifier showing (see his win over Full Time Josh Gibbs HERE). Then he returned for some great action at the PGF Nashville Qualifier despite already having an invite (a G move). Carson has improved every day since his surgery. He really could be the blue belt that has a breakthrough performance as he has those never say die and don’t tell me I can’t attitudes. Fans can check out his full profile article HERE.
He’s last on the Board, but #1 in the Fans’ Hearts. Season 2 veteran and Winner of the Season 3 Such N Such BATTLERAMA! (5:12:35), Gibbs got the nickname “Full Time” because he was originally drafted in the last round of Season 3, meaning he was a replacement/bench player. After a teammate suffered a season-ending injury on the first night, Josh Gibbs became FULL TIME as he replaced the injured teammate on the roster. Then, when the Such N Such BATTLERAMA happened due to fans in the chat and the owner of Such N Such putting down the money, the replacement/bench competitors had a separate tournament for themselves. Serving as both a Full Time competitor and as a replacement player, Josh Gibbs became essentially DOUBLE TIME. In one of the most exciting matches in PGF history, Josh “Full Time” Gibbs won $1k as the BATTLERAMA champion. Gibbs has had limited success outside the BATTLERAMA, posting a regular season overall record of 3-18-5. But Gibbs has no quit in him. He’s a certified strength and conditioning trainer as well as a Navy veteran. Everyone had Matthew Boiles winning that BATTLERAMA, but Gibbs weathered the storm and submitted it. Plus, Gibbs won’t be facing opponents way heavier than him as he did in Season 2 as a baby purple belt. The more mature, brown belt likely will have some tricks up his sleeve for the rest of the competitors in this tier and maybe for some of the more highly toted ones as well. Gibbs is the last ranked on the board, but probably one of the greatest dudes in this list. He’s solid gold. He just had some bad days of competition in the qualifiers so he got this spot in the rundown.
There you have it. You’ve now seen the Big Board (seriously, watch Dr. Strangelove). If you disagree with these rankings, feel free to hop on Brandon Mccaghren’s Facebook Group to debate. Or better yet, tune into the PGF Insiders Mock Draft which will be LIVE on Brandon Mccaghren‘s YouTube Channel this upcoming Sunday, 22 October. The YouTube chat should be popping with banter about the picks.
Agree or disagree with the picks, be sure to tune into PGF Season 5 as it goes LIVE on Brandon Mccaghren‘s YouTube Channel on 29 October at 10am Central Time for the Combine and then again at 5pm for the LIVE DRAFT. Welcome to the Shark Week of Jiu Jitsu!
The editors at EggheadWarrior.com thank the PGF Insiders, and all the competitors for providing the content of this article. The PGF Insiders will always work to provide the latest and greatest information regarding the PGF and you can see their weekly podcasts on the McDojo Life YouTube Channel or Brandon Mccaghren’s channel (if a member). Special thanks to Walo Jay for all the great photos. Those interested in Walo’s work can check out his YouTube page (link is specifically to Walo’s Handsome Kevin short) and Walo’s website.