Sakuraba and Josh Barnett’s submission grappling team “Survival Series” format airs on Fight Pass April 11

5 Apr , 2018,
Pannie Tran

This new promotion is called Quintet. The first event will be called “Quintet.1” with the tag line “Team Grappling Survival Match” and features a host of notable names all across the MMA and combat sports scene. It’s stylized title may remind you of defunct Japanese MMA promotion Dream stylized titles.  This event will be broadcast on UFC Fight Pass.


Here are the rules: 

  • 4 teams participate in a no-gi 1 night tournament
  • Each team has 5 members
  • The total weight of the team cannot exceed 430 kilograms/946lbs
  • 8 minute sub-only, if match ends without a submission both athletes are eliminated
  • If one member wins, he advances immediately to the next match against a fresh second person
  • After the semifinals, the two winning teams continue with a championship series to determine the first champion
  • The championship series will have the lineups reversed from the first-round matches, so the person who entered fifth for his team in the semifinal, will go first in the final.
  • If weight difference between opponents is over 15 kg, the match will be 4 minutes instead of 8
  • If it comes down to both teams having one person left, and those two go to a draw, it would go into a sudden death round where each team picks one fighter, and fight to a finish to see which team advances (unclear what would happen if that sudden death round was also a draw)
  • No heel hooks (to lessen the chance of injury due to multiple matches in one day)
  • No closed guard (to increase action)


Haleo DreamKazushi Sakuraba, Josh Barnett, Hideo Tokoro, Daisuke Nakamura, Marcos Souza

Polaris – this team consists of grappling promotion Polaris’ fighters 

  • Caol Uno
  • Gregor Gracie
  • Craig Jones (for MMA fans, most notable is subbing Chael at ADCC.  ADCC is one of, if not the most prestigious no-gi grappling competition out there)
  • Dan Strauss
  • Charles Negromonte

Sambo/Lithuania – This team consists of Sambo-based fighters and all hail from Lithuania for some reason

Maybe Rose Namajunas can join some other time she isn’t set to make her first defence of her strawweight title in a rematch with Joanna.

Judo/Japan and Korea – consisting of judokas from Japan and South Korea

  • Satoshi Ishii (Olympic Judo Gold, fought many big names like Fedor, Cro Cop, Rampage in MMA)
  • Michihiro Omigawa (former UFC fighter… holds one of the worst records at 1-6 in the UFC, he was ranked as high as #4 Featherweight in 2010)
  • Dong Sik Yoon (0-4 in Pride, has fought Rampage, Mousasi, Sakuraba and holds a win over current UFC welterweight Tarec Saffiedine and Melvin Manhoef)
  • Hyung Ju Kim
  • Shutaro Debana

Editorial begin…

I believe Dana and the Fertitas, despite voicing their displeasure for what boxing had become in the 2000s, absolutely enjoyed the more pure sporting aspect boxing brings that is different from MMA’s mix of all to real competition and pro wrestling theatrics/gimmicks. And with that mentality they put forth in the UFC for all these years of really trying to make sure this barebones, competition vs. competition, “fighting is in our DNA” that just simply the fights would be enough to bring the eyes or at the very least the fights and some bad blood/drama. And even then Dana White was against the turning point, The Ultimate Fighter TV series, from happening.

It succeeded in taking MMA to where it is today, abso-fucking-lutely, but as the UFC blasted into mainstream with TUF, the pride acquisition, Brock Lesnar and GSP, then UFC on FOX, then buying out Strikeforce for a near total dominance of MMA’s top talent… the entertainment and theatrics were losing out. For some people, fighting wasn’t just something as simple as “in our DNA”. For some it wasn’t just the sport and technique and heart… for some the theatrics, the big entrances, the gimmicks added to the enjoyment of the sport. In a word it made it more “fun”.

So, with that said, I am very excited to see someone with such a well-respected and legendary name like Sakuraba to not only team up with an all-time great heavyweight in Josh Barnett, but also have the backing of the UFC/Fight Pass (it feels like they approached him to do something?)… it is great… Let boxing have the pure sporting aspect. MMA has ALWAYS been rooted in pro wrestlers (Pancrase, Pride), in showmanship (UFC 1 Gracie Jiu-Jitsu out to prove their art was better than yours)…

MMA was never only about the pure sporting aspect. While a uniform ruleset and the like was most likely needed for the UFC’s success and continued success. This further mixing, further adaptation and hybrid-ing of MMA, of submission grappling is something I’ve been wanting for a long time, probably since around 2014 when for top level MMA it was pretty much just UFC and occasionally Bellator or WSOF.

Rizin CEO, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, talked about how having uniform rules creates a kind of static-ness and doesn’t allow for the sport to further evolve. It is only fitting to see Sakuraba try something totally different, that for whatever reason (probably the barebones pure sporting mentality) has been a rarity in the MMA/submission grappling world. Early MMA contests in Pancrase (before it was even called MMA) had hybrid rule sets too. Utilizing a boxing style knockdown system as well as grabbing the ropes to force a stand up (which would cost you a point, if you lost 5 points you would lose the fight regardless if you were submitted or knocked out).

I have high hopes for this event. I believe it can bring legitimate high level grappling as well as an additional wow and fun factor with the format. Seeing how smaller fighters do with bigger guys, seeing athleties fight multiple guys back to back (potentially you could 1 v 5 a team, unlikely but it could happen.. imagine watching someone like Gordon Ryan or Felipe Pena 1 v 5 a team of competent grapplers but not world level.. that would still be pretty awesome I think).

So thank you Sakuraba for trying to bring the fun back. Even if it’s a disaster, I’m already beside myself that something creative, more than just the usual one-on-one, is being put forth at a level that’s high enough that will be interesting to watch from a technique standpoint, but also fun for fans that have less technical knowledge of grappling as well as long-time fans and practitioners. Plus, I think Chael Sonnen’s grappling promotion SUG has shown there is a cross over appeal to see MMA athletes compete in submission grappling only rules.

Only problem I can see is what if one team has fighters that are so dominant that you don’t end up getting to see one of the athletes you wanted to watch? Say for example Sakuraba is placed at #3, Nakamura at #5 and Josh Barnett at #1. Barnett sweeps the first team. Then in the final because the reverse happens, Nakamura opens the match up and he and #4 manage to win before Sakuraba can grapple. Maybe the fact these guys were able to be so dominant will be the talking point, but if I’m a Sakuraba fan and I tuned in to watch him, some fans might be disappointed. Might be unlikely, but who knows…

Another problem is what if someone gets injured? Do they have replacements or just go in with 4 guys?

All in all, you slick devil, Sakuraba, you.. I knew there was no way this guy could leave combat sports. Great to see him get in the business side of MMA but also still competing in a less dangerous way by doing grappling only and further contributing to combat sports/MMA as if he hasn’t already done enough.

Sakuraba-mastur-san, this ones for you.

Photo Source: BJJ Heroes

Watch Live on Fight Pass: