By Elias Cepeda
Metamoris is a unique submission grappling event filled entirely with super-fights. No points are counted, the matches are twice as long as usual grappling competitions, and the only way to win is by submitting your opponent. Aoki, largely known as one of the most dangerous ground specialists in MMA, is a perfectly logical cross-over guy to bring in to Metamoris.
The other famous MMA fighter on the card is TUF 10 runner-up Brendan Schaub, and his placement doesn’t make nearly as much sense at first glance. Because of his success in the UFC, Schaub is surely one of the most well-known competitors on the card, however, none of the former college and professional football player’s MMA wins have come via submission. He’s young in the sport and is certainly not considered to be one of the best grapplers in the heavyweight division, let alone the UFC.
No, most of Schaub’s success has been achieved in the standup department, by knocking his opponents out silly, not by relying on “the gentle art.” But to the former TUF finalist, competing at Metamoris II against top Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling champion Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu no less makes all the sense in the world.
“A lot of people don’t know this,” Schaub tells CagePotato. “But, Jiu Jitsu is my passion. It was the first real thing I did in martial arts. For me, competing at Metamoris is a way for me to give back to Jiu Jitsu for all it’s done for me. Jiu Jitsu has changed my life.”
The Colorado native moved to Los Angeles a year ago, where he’s been training with Metamoris I competitor and the brother of the promotion’s founder, Ryron Gracie, extensively. Schaub went and watched his instructor compete against Andre Galvao last year at Metamoris I and was inspired to give it a go himself, should the opportunity arise.
“A lot of guys in MMA say they are a purple belt, or brown belt or black belt. Really? What have you done? Have you ever gone against the top level of grappler? Have you ever competed against a true black belt?” he asks.
“The Hybrid” knew that if he got the chance, he’d jump at competing on the next Metamoris card, in order to challenge himself in such a way and to also just stay active. However, he didn’t think his UFC boss, Dana White, would let him.
“I didn’t think there was a chance in the world Dana would let me,” Schaub laughs. “[But] he said, ‘you know what, you can do it, just don’t get hurt.’ So, I’ve been training hard, I have no injuries and this is an incredible challenge for me.”
Schaub has been “training hard” because, in little more than a month after his Metamoris match against “Cyborg,” he has a schedule UFC bout with Matt Mitrione. That’s a bit nuts, if you think about it. The UFC is where Schaub makes his big money, so to risk injury and a muddled training camp by competing in a sport with different rules seems pretty…audacious, especially given his opponent at UFC on FOX 8. But fret not, for the fighter says his priorities and ego are all in check. And better yet, his lifestyle makes him well suited for this type of situation.
“The UFC number is my number one priority,” he insists. “And, there is no such thing as a ‘training camp’ for me. There is no such thing as focus on Matt Mitrione or ‘Cyborg’ Abreu. I train all year round. I’m in shape right now. I’d fight Matt Mitrione on two hour’s notice. Fighting is my lifestyle.”
That said, Schaub has benefited from additional attention and help from expert submission grapplers as he prepares, first, for Metamoris II and Abreu. In addition to Ryron Gracie, his brother Rener, and their cousin Kron spending time with Schaub, he says that world champions Dean Lister and Xande Ribeiro have been working with him as well.
“I’ve gotten world class champs reaching out to me, wanting to help,” he says.
The UFC heavyweight still gets his boxing and wrestling work in, though, as well as sparring his usual twice a week in MMA. As for the threat of injury against Abreu, Schaub just isn’t concerned.
“No, not really,” he maintains.
“My ego isn’t to the point where if ‘Cyborg’ were to catch me in a foot lock or some sort of arm manipulation where I’d let him break my arm before tapping. Fighting in the UFC is still my dream and being in the UFC is the only reason I got an invitation to Metamoris. I owe it all to the UFC. I wouldn’t do that to them or myself.”
That said, Schaub most certainly isn’t showing up Sunday to get his opponent’s autograph and then go home. He’ll be there to win.
“Something that people say that really bugs me is, ‘Oh, this is a win-win for Brendan. Abreu does BJJ for a living and Brendan splits his time because he’s a fighter.’ Listen man,” Schaub says, seriously.
“If I didn’t think I could beat this guy, I wouldn’t have taken the match. I don’t sign up for win-wins. A loss would sting. I’m here to fight for a win.”