Kasai Super Series 1:
Ricardo Abreu vs Tex Johnson
Photo by Flograppling
Written by Rome G. Lytton IV
“Let’s have fun, and don’t let me break your shit.”
These were Tex Johnson’s last words before walking out to compete at Kasai Super Series 1. A bold statement from a man with an even bolder name: Tex-fucking-Johnson. The name itself is heavy metal to my ears. It works on so many different levels:
NFL linebacker -- “Tex Johnson with another vicious tackle.”
Car salesman -- “Come on down to Tex Johnson’s New and Used Tractors and Trucks.”
Politics -- “Vote for Tex Johnson.”
“Film Star” -- “Tex, she’s ready for you on set.”
I could go forever, really, so I’m just gonna put it out there: Tex Johnson has the best name in sports grappling. Sorry, King Gordon.
Ricardo Abreu...not as much of a ring to his name...is still a monster. In his post-fight interview, he came across as calm and good-mannered, but when it was time to get serious, he got fucking serious. There’s something about a person who is polite and respectful most of the time, but then you see that look in their eye after they flip that switch.
It can shake you, mentally. I knew from the start, this match would deliver. As they made their way to the stage, I couldn’t help but notice, these are giant human beings. Marilyn Manson thunders in the background, and the two men line up as if held back by chains.
As soon as the referee signals to start, the fireworks begin. Johnson looks to establish a collar tie, but Abreu circles his left hand to deflect the attempt. Johnson then pulls guard, scoots his left hip out to establish a knee shield with his right leg and frames against Abreu’s face with his left arm. Abreu then drops his right hip and looks to pressure pass by controlling Johnson’s left hip and right leg. Abreu swarms on Johnson for a pass, but Johnson’s hips are too good and he’s able to invert, preventing Abreu’s pass.
The announcers mention that Abreu trains with some of the best guys in MMA, and that he earned his nickname, “Demente”, from allowing himself to get trapped deep in submissions before escaping at seemingly the last possible second. Johnson is about to test this theory.
Johnson inverts and hunts for a kneebar. Abreu wisely turns his knee away, but Johnson counters by switching to outside Ashi where he’s able to secure a straight ankle grip on Abreu’s right leg. He then pressures his hips forward to lengthen Abreu’s leg so he can switch from his straight ankle control to gripping the heel. Abreu wisely grabs Johnson’s head to counter the pressure and looks to stand up, pressing Johnson’s legs off his exposed right leg. Johnson bridges off his shoulders and slams his hip high into the back of Abreu’s knee, causing Abreu’s heel to come off the mat slightly. This slight movement allows Johnson to establish a grip on the heel for the finish. Abreu senses he is in danger and rolls out just as Johnson loses his grip on the heel, giving him a narrow window to escape.
Johnson attempts to maintain position, inverts, and continues to attack Abreu’s legs. Both men scramble, and Johnson nearly takes Abreu’s back. Instead, Abreu finds himself inside Johnson’s closed guard. Both men fight for grips and position before Abreu takes control of Johnson’s biceps. He uses the control to stand up and slip in a knee to break open Johnson’s closed guard. Abreu now has a better chance to pass, but Johnson is able to fight off the attempt by inverting and transitioning into a kneebar attempt on Abreu’s right leg. The knee bar looks on, but Abreu is just able to turn his knee and escape before Johnson pulls him into his closed guard.
Johnson scores one point for the kneebar attempt to take the lead. Abreu looks to stack pass, but Johnson’s hips are too good, and he is able to transition back to attacking Abreu’s leg with an Estima Lock attempt. But again, Abreu is just able to scramble out.
Both men are now standing, and Johnson quickly ducks under Abreu’s left arm to transition to controlling Abreu’s back hips. Both men scramble but soon find themselves nearly flying off the mat.
Johnson quickly jumps to an aggressive guard pull. Both men are exhausted at this point. The referee gives Johnson a penalty for stalling. Johnson reacts and opens his guard for an attack. Abreu takes this opportunity to pass Johnson’s guard with a stack pass. He is so close, but Johnson’s hips are on fire!
Granby after granby with each scoot of the hips allows Johnson to stay out of harm’s way and get back to his feet. Just before the clock expires, Abreu shoots in for a takedown that looks super close, but Johnson is able to sprawl and ride out the clock to a victory over Abreu. Amazing! What a sick scramble to close!
I know we all like to see a match finish with a submission, but this was a back-and-forth war between two high-level athletes. I look forward to seeing both men compete in the future.