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PGF Season 5: Roster Update

Only 24 submission grapplers will get the chance to compete in the 5th season of the Professional Grappling Federation (PGF). As the Commissioner, Brandon Mccaghren, did in season 3, he’s bringing the people four teams of five on the active roster with a competitor in reserve (or on the bench). Prior to the regular season, the coaches of each team will come together for a draft to fill their roster spots. With 15 competitors currently on the roster, spots for would-be competitors are drying up FAST! But before we mention how folks can earn the last nine spots, let’s go over PGF Season 5 roster as it stands.


Elijah Carlton – THE CHAMP IS HERE! THE CHAMP IS HERE!!! Elijah “the Jibroni Grappler” Carlton is the Royce Gracie of the PGF. The black belt out of 10th Planet Atlanta (formerly out of Agoge Combatives in Chattanooga, TN) has racked up a likely untouchable record in the PGF. In the first three seasons of the PGF, Elijah submitted nearly almost all of his opponents. In the inaugural season, Carlton submitted everyone. In the follow-up, 225lb season, an undersized Jibroni Grappler submitted everyone except for two losses (one in the regular season and one in the finale tournament) to the eventual champion, Hunter Colvin. In the third season, two competitors forced draws, but the rest fell to Carlton. At the end of the regular season, the league-leading Carlton had to bow out of the finale tournament due to an injury. Outside the PGF, Carlton has been a great ambassador, even wearing his favorite PGF season 1 rash guard while scoring a submission on Chael Sonnen‘s Submission Underground. Carlton owns the High Rollerz brown belt championship and has garnered many victories in other competitions. Carlton has an impossible guard and wicked triangles and leg locks. Elijah Carlton IS the PGF Champ – if someone wants the title, they better be ready for the battle of their lives to take it. Fans can check out some of Elijah’s great Season 1 submissions HERE and some of his Season 2 submissions HERE.

Elijah Carlton victorious after a PGF Finale match. Photo Courtesy of Walo Jay.

Handsome Kevin Sherrill – The Season 3 Runner-up and the Reigning Handsome Daddy Belt holder, Handsome Kevin Sherrill is a force to be reckoned with. Fans should check out a full profile article on the Handsome One, HERE. But as an amuse-bouche to the full article…or just the bottom line up front (BLUF), Handsome Kevin Sherrill is a lifetime grappler, a state-champion wrestler from Georgia who wrestled D-1. After wrestling, he picked up jiu jitsu and has made submission grappling his life. He currently has his own team, Not Bad Combat Club, training out of the Executive Training Group facilities in Woodstock, Georgia. He trains a lot of places but Handsome Kevin spends most of his time developing his new skills and strategies with LHM. LHM is led by three ATT Atlanta black belts: Paul Ardila, Sergio Ibarra, and Ernesto Rivera who have ADCC and EBI experience. Handsome Kevin is a very dangerous brown belt with serious wrestling, back game, and leg attacks. For PGF related videos of Handsome Kevin (besides his matches), you can check out his interview for a Season 3 Preview HERE and an interview with the PGF Insiders HERE.

The Dream Stephen Eakin, the awesome PGF announcer, interviews Handsome Kevin Sherrill. Credit to Walo Jay

Matt Elkins – The NEWLY MINTED BLACK BELT and 10th Planet Moon Head (10th Planet Birmingham – I believe in conjunction with Ironclad Wrestling) has been a part of the PGF from the start. Matt Elkins was an Alabama state-wrestling champion as well as college wrestler. After wrestling, he transitioned to MMA, but found his lifelong calling for jiu jitsu. Elkins was one of the top regular season finishers for Season 1 and went far into the post-season finale. Some of his top notch wrestling from Season 1 can be seen HERE. You can also enjoy his PGF Finale Tournament Countdown HERE. You can also enjoy another insight video of him HERE. Matt Elkins returned for Season 2 but suffered a serious knee pop on the first day. It didn’t stop him from winning BLOCK 12! (if you know, you know). Elkins made it to the season finale tournament again and acquitted himself well. Matt joined his brother Jake as they coached a team for Season 4. According to Brandon Mccaghren (BMAC or the Commissioner), Matt Elkins has 5x’d his jiu jitsu since Season 2.

Matt Elkins during the PGF Season 2 Finale Tournament. Photo courtesy of Walo Jay.

Kemoy Anderson – This Season 2 alumn and Season 4 coach might just rip someone’s arm off this season. All the 10P Qualifiers and Team matches I’ve seen of Kemoy, he just seems to want to rip people’s arms off. But Kemoy also has serious triangles. He’s a brown belt currently out of 10P Austin (formerly 10P El Paso). You can Google Rated R 10P yourself and you’ll find plenty of highlight reels. He’s only gotten more dangerous since season 2.

Kemoy Anderson preparing for his PGF Season 2 Finale Tournament Matches. Photo courtesy of Walo Jay

Joshua “Full Time” Gibbs – Season 2 veteran and Winner of the Season 3 Such N Such BATTLERAMA! (5:12:35) 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.

The Dream Stephen Eakin interviews Joshua “Full Time” Gibbs after his super fight at the PGF Season 4 Finale. Photo Courtesy of Walo Jay.

The Rock Troll Maximus Prime Jolly – The Rock Troll was an awesome surprise for PGF Season 4. He came out of nowhere and submitted all his opponents in the PGF Season 4 Chattanooga Qualifier. The Rock Troll went on to become one of the breakout stars of Season 4, scoring submission after submission in the Quintet team format. Maximus Prime fell short in the Season 4 post-season tournament semi-finals, but he wasted no time returning for Season 5. This time, at the PGF Season 5 Decatur Qualifier, the Rock Troll proved he could hang even at the higher weight class, submitting all his opponents on the way to win the qualifier. Fans should check out his full profile article HERE. It’ll be interesting to see how the Rock Troll sizes up against the larger, more experienced competitors such as Handsome Kevin Sherrill and Matt Elkins. Regardless of the matchup, I guarantee, the Rock Troll will put on a show.

Maximus “Rock Troll” Jolly tries to secure the rear-naked choke on eventual Season 4 runner-up Dane Leak. Leak won this semifinal round by quickest escape in overtime. Photo Courtesy of Walo Jay.


Carson Thigpen – A blue belt out of Renzo Gracie Nashville under the world-renowned BJJ competitor, coach, and now ADCC main commentator Shawn Williams, Carson Thigpen is a submission hunter! Fans can check out his full profile article HERE. 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 and then he returned for some great action at the PGF Nashville Qualifier despite already having an invite (a G move). Carson’s last matches were just a few months after he returned from injury. With the added prep time before the regular season, we could see a highlight reel competitor in Carson Thigpen.

Carson Thigpen and his defeated opponent leave the mats after their match during the Summit Grappling portion of the PGF Season 3 Finale. Photo Courtesy of Walo Jay.

Your No Gi Neighbor Sawyer Griffin – A purple belt out of 10th Planet Decatur, Sawyer Griffin has displayed sick back take after back take in his PGF Qualifier time. Fans can read his full player profile article HERE. Sawyer could easily become fan favorite this season. Sawyer wasn’t a D1 wrestler or MMA fighter. He was just a man who got his degree and wanted something more than the 9-5. He found his passion in jiu jitsu. To be fair, he’s kind of a klutz when he’s not on the mat. But when he’s on the mat, he’s a stone cold killer, looking for that submission every second. He pushes the action and belittles any opponent (during the match) if they even think of stalling. Sawyer’s going to push the action and earn a lot of fans this season.

Sawyer Griffin locks in the rear naked choke against fellow PGF Season 5 competitor Carson Thigpen at the PGF Season 5 Decatur Qualifier.

Anakin McMahan – this man showed out at the ADCC Phoenix Open. He realized he had a tough road to hoe in his weight class so he also signed up for the Absolute bracket. In the Absolute, he showcased his true abilities. Anakin has a very interesting jiu jitsu journey leading from a bjj McDojo to training in a garage to become the submission grappler he is today. He’s a true representative of his current crew and not a mystery to opponents. After all, how are you going to keep secrets when your rashguard says “back takes and leg breaks?” But seriously, he’s a dark horse to win this thing. He has the right hunger and attitude…I might put a little money on this man reaching the finals…the finale tournament for sure.

Anakin McMahan working on the leg lock during the ADCC Phoenix Open.

Joey “Butter Smooth” Werner – The host of the Butter Smooth Moves Instagram channel also happens to be a highly competitive brown belt out of One Love Grappling Arts in Phoenix, Arizona. He happened to impress the Commissioner during the ADCC Phoenix Open, earning a spot on the roster. His gyms website says he lives up to his nickname…”the Darce Knight.” So one competitors might want to prepare to defend the darce and some likely sick smack talk as he obviously is quick witted with a great sense of humor.

Joey “Butter Smooth” Werner receiving his brown belt. Credit to One Love Grappling Arts LLC.

Jacob Lamar – He’s a black belt out of Cobra BJJ in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He started MMA in 2008 and continued until 2014 when he found Cobra BJJ. So, he’s spent 15 years in combat sports with eight of those in bjj. He knows the level of competition he’s facing with Elijah Carlton, Matt Elkins, and Kemoy Anderson. While he doesn’t want to call any one out, he’s excited to test his mettle against these PGF veterans.

Jacob Lamar has his hand held up in victory over a 10th Planet ATL product.

Paul Bahri – A former semi-pro soccer player (shoutout to JAX Armada), won the Jacksonville qualifier. He’s a blue belt out of 10th Planet Jacksonville. Just be ready for some DUUUUUUUVALLL callous by him. As I said, he was a soccer player, but he found bjj during COVID, so he only has a few years in the sport, minus six months or so he went back to semi-pro for a while after suffering the normal jiu jitsu struggles all new practitioners encounter. Now, he knows he’s facing an uphill battle going against such skilled, experienced competition. But he’s going to prepare himself for the challenge by hitting 2-3 classes a day and doing some serious running to enhance his cardio. As PGF fans well know, there’s always a standout blue belt I’m the season. Paul’s doing his best to earn that title. Fans that want to learn more about Paul can catch his PGF Insider interview HERE.

Nick Craton – Formerly out of 10th Planet St Paul in Minnesota, he made the move to Toledo, Ohio to train with Dante Leon at Adamas Jiu Jitsu. Craton has a gift for the sport, reaching his brown belt in only five years. PGF Fans first likely got to know Nick when he wrecked the competition at the Mid South Classic (the competition PGF Veteran and Announcer Stephen Eakin hosts). Craton is a quick finisher with SICK leg locks. With Craton’s story of making the big move to train with an elite camp, he’s giving PGF fans some Reese Lafeever vibes from PGF Season 4 (who won it all). Pay attention of Craton might get on the mat, get the submission, and get off the mat before you catch him.

Nick Craton posing after winning the Mid South Classic, a tournament put on by Stephen Eakin and 10th Planet Perry. Craton drove from Minneapolis, MN to Perry, GA to have the opportunity to win this tournament. He’s driven (pardon the pun) and ready to take out his competition.

Landon Tourville – So many times we’ve seen the same thing…a seeming wandering warrior come out of nowhere and wreck the competition in a qualifier. At the PGF Nashville Qualifier, the warrior in question was Landon Tourville. He’s a 19-year-old blue belt out of Fathom BJJ in Highland, IL (just outside of St. Louis). He’s been training for four years and been tapping out black belts even though he’s a blue belt. Be careful. He comes with some sneaky, tough submissions like the bicep slicer that helped him win the qualifier. At 19, I think he might be the youngest competitor since Noah Randolph in PGF Season 1 (who was 16).

Landon Tourville posing with the Commissioner after winning the PGF Nashville Qualifier.

Matthew DeWees – Another blue belt out of 10th Planet Jacksonville, he finished second to Paul Bahri, his friend and training partner. DeWees showed off his skills again with some seriously technical matches at the Nashville Qualifier. Fans can learn more soon as he’ll be a guest on the PGF Insider/McDojo Life podcast.

Matthew DeWees locks in the calf crank on fellow PGF Season 5 competitor Carson Thigpen at the PGF Nashville Qualifier.

This roster sports a number of veterans and exciting newcomers. Fans should be VERY excited for the Shark Week of Jiu Jitsu – PGF Season 5 will start October 29 and run through the Finale tournament on Saturday, 4 November. All the action will be live on Brandon Mccaghren’s YOUTUBE CHANNEL. Now let’s return to how prospective competitors can join the roster.

On 24 September, 10th Planet HQ will host a qualifier. On October 7, 10th Planet Huntsville will host a qualifier. The Commissioner has said he is looking to add qualifiers in Austin and other locations, but the details have not been finalized so make sure to subscribe to his YouTube Channel and follow him on Instagram (or check back here) to get the details on additional qualifiers when they become available.

Regardless of who fills the last spots of the PGF Roster, you can be guaranteed one of the most entertaining, exciting submission grappling experiences for fans and competitors alike. It’ll start with a combine Sunday morning, followed by a live draft that night. Then, the PGF will get right to the action the next day. Every competitor will get three matches a day and at least 12 matches total, leading to the fans knowing how the competitors stack up. Then, the top eight competitors, having accumulated points by earning submissions (6 points for a kill/choke; 3 for a break/joint lock; and a bonus point for a submission in less than one minute – the Elbow Genie Rule). The top eight will have a single elimination tournament with set time limits but with a two-round EBI overtime. Fans can join the action on BMAC’s YouTube channel and join in on the fun in the comment section. Commentators will be interacting LIVE with the fans in the comment section. Fans’ ability to interact with the production and build a community in the chat, these are just a few of the things that set the PGF apart and above all other submission grappling competitions. Not to further gild the lily, the fans, both practitioners and just sports fans, will LOVE the PGF.

The editors at 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.

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