For awhile there I thought Fight 2 Win Pro (F2W) just hated us. By us I mean San Diego.
In 2015, F2W arrived in America’s Finest City for their 5th show, and first outside of Texas and Colorado. The venue for event number 5 was the gym at Abraham Lincoln High School. Lincoln is well known here in town as the school Marcus Allen (1st Round Draft pick of the Raiders) and Terrell Davis (Denver Broncos and Pro Hall of Fame) attended.
I am not sure why F2W selected a high school gym south of the 8 as the place to debut their production in what is arguably the mecca of USA BJJ; but I am guessing costs may have played a part.
In any case, when it was announced they were coming to town all of about 12 people got excited…let’s just say F2W was still new and although going to the Lincoln Gym on a Saturday night sounded super awesome, not too many people were all that interested.
But then San Diego residents Andre Galvao and Baret Yoshida announced they would be there, fighting, and suddenly people started to pay attention.
Next thing you know, some of the biggest names in BJJ were in a high school gym on a Saturday night delivering a show with thumping music, a light show on an elevated stage and led by a big, tatted out announcer (Seth Daniels), and his take-no-prisoners cohort, Missy Estrada who collected tickets and didn’t care what your rank was or how Brazilian you were.
I think there was food, maybe Acai and some kind of meat…I cant remember exactly. But I do remember I bought VIP tickets for my son and I so we could sit at a table. It was hotter than hell in that gym, and the folding chairs and gym bleachers added to the ambiance.
But a scan of the crowd that night showed a whole lot of people enjoying themselves. And then there was the Jiu Jitsu itself…lots and lots of Jiu Jitsu. I’d never been to anything like it before: a never ending stream of talent under flashy, rock star lights and often foul-mouthed rap music that athletes selected themselves for their walk out songs.
It was a FUN evening and afterwards people streamed out into the high school parking lot and surrounding streets with smiles on their faces. “Next time they come here I’m applying!” was the mantra as many left to go home stoked and ready for Sunday Open Mats around SD County.
And then F2W 6, 7, 15, 34, 53, 75 and 80 came and went- everywhere but San Diego.
Was it something we said??
Since this is San Diego, nobody gets too worked up- we just go to the beach and chill. And wait.
And then, one day, 90 shows later, F2W announced they were coming back…
I suppose since they ignored us for so long they had to come up with something pretty good. And good it was.
Instead of a high school gym (which would have been fine, we would have showed up anyway), they booked the Town and Country which is SD’s original Convention Center and also as an interesting aside, used to host the biggest swinger convention in the west (don’t ask).
So 90 shows later, F2W has established itself as a legit organization that not only pays its athletes, but brings an incomparable production, high excitement and entertaining Jiu Jitsu to people all over the USA.
And San Diego is not a bad place to mine Jiu Jitsu talent- we have a few good gyms here- as in throw a rock and you will hit one that is home to a World Champion (or two).
But not everyone is able to go to Worlds or Pans or Brasileros or Euros; but F2W brings top ranked competitors to a city near you so fans are able to see match ups that sometimes have never even happened at those afore-mentioned events.
F2W gives athletes the opportunity to fight in front of their hometown and get paid for doing it with photo shoots, weigh-ins and it is heavily promoted. Flo Grappling streams it live. And lower ranks and juveniles get the opportunity to be part of the big show too; 16-year-old blue belts are getting paid and receiving exposure on the same stage as multiple time World Champions and legends of the sport.
When F2W 90 announced that Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu’s Rafael Lovato, Jr. would defend his belt against Atos’ Josh Hinger, San Diego went wild. Both athletes belong to teams that have their headquarters here. This was a match all BJJ fans could appreciate and anticipate, and San Diego fans would be the lucky recipients to watch it in person- this time with cushy seats in an air-conditioned ballroom with full bar service!
The F2W crew work HARD to to bring the BJJ Fan a fun and entertaining evening full of high level Jiu Jitsu. They provide the BJJ Athlete an opportunity to shine in front of their friends, family and team, and actually make money doing it. This event paid out over $38,000 to the athletes involved in this one show alone.
They have pulled up stakes here in San Diego, but will be in Fresno this Friday Dec 7, 2018 to do it all again.
Hopefully F2W won’t wait another 90 shows before they decide to return to our city, but no matter how long it takes, we will wait. Relaxed. On the beach. Chillin.
*BIG THANKS to F2W’s Photographer, Mike Calimbas for allowing me to get some shots (posted below) and have killer seats.
**To view, order/download all images from Mike Calimbas go here: