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Friday, July 21, 2017

No Holds Barred: Rolles Gracie on KASAI Elite Grappling Championships 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Rolles Gracie, president of the newly-formed KASAI Elite Grappling Championships.

Rolles Gracie is a member of the legendary Gracie family and has competed in jiu-jitsu, grappling, MMA, and wrestling events, as well as running his own academy. Now he will also be in an executive capacity with this new organization, along with a team headed by Richard Byrne, KASAI's CEO, who is a financier, president of Benefit Street Partners, and a black belt in jiu-jitsu.

Their basic plan is to run both professional and amateur jiu-jitsu events in New York City in both gi and no-gi divisions, beginning this fall. Their first amateur event is scheduled for October 21 at Manhattan's Baruch College, with a pro event planned for later in the fall.

We spoke with Rolles Gracie by phone Thursday.

As an athlete who has competed all over the world, he said he always was interested in creating his own organization.

"Every time I was competing, I was paying attention to some things I liked about the tournament, some things I disliked about it," he said.

"I'm nearly 40 years old now, 39, I still feel like a young kid, but I think it's time for me to start giving back to the sport that gave me so much.

"And I'm going to basically put everything I can to fulfill the fighters', the athletes' needs. I'm not trying to do anything completely different than everybody. I just want to put a tournament, some professional events, that's going to treat the fighters with respect, with everything you deserve, tournaments running on time, and you name it."

He stressed, "It's all about the fighters."

While the amateur events will follow IBJJF rules, the professional events may have some innovative rules. While all submissions will be legal in the pro events, they are looking into having the athletes on a portion of the card choose their own rules, whether IBJJF, ADCC, or some other ruleset. All that will be worked out soon.

We also discussed their plans for showing these events online and possibly on television as pay-per-views, their team which is experienced both in jiu-jitsu and sports and financial management, how they plan to feature "premier athletes" in the pro events, how they chose the name KASAI, and much, much more.

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