written by Kyle Antonelli
RiSE Invitational made its long-anticipated return this past weekend on July 23, 2022 with RiSE 9. Fans packed The Space in Westbury, New York, to witness the promotion’s first 8-man $10,000 open-weight tournament. The event, which aired live on FLO Grappling, also featured a light-heavyweight title match and several superfights featuring top regional talent. All matches were submission-only, with EBI-rules overtime rounds for tournament and title matches.
The highlight of the evening was the tournament-winning performance by Devhonte “Bones” Johnson (Unity Jiu Jitsu / Bones BJJ), who claimed the grand prize with three impressive submissions. His victory in the finals came over RiSE 170lb champion Jason Rau, with an arm-triangle choke during regulation time. Johnson started his night with a rare Americana from the full mount, over Albruce Touaev (Harbor Jiu Jitsu / New Wave Jiu Jitsu) in the opening round. He followed that up with an armbar victory over Rene Sousa (10th Planet Bethlehem) in the semifinals.
Rau, for his part, reached the finals with an opening round heel hook victory over Luis Cabrera (Bronx Jiu Jitsu) and an overtime riding time victory over Mateo Martinez (Essential Jiu Jitsu) in the semifinals. In other opening round action, Mateo Martinez defeated Adam Collarile (Legends Martial Arts) with a modified shoulder lock from back mount, and Rene Sousa claimed a hard-fought victory via riding time over Enrique Galarza (Silver Fox BJJ) in a competitive match.
The co-main event saw reigning RiSE Light Heavyweight champion Joe “Slim” Mugnai (Serra BJJ) defend his title with a quick triangle choke submission over Tommy Doyle (The Ronin Ludius). Mugnai lured Doyle into his dangerous guard to start the match, and worked from an omoplata attempt into his patented triangle choke. The tap came shortly after and Mugnai maintained his undefeated record on the RiSE stage.
In other main card action, the fans were treated to three exciting superfights. RiSE veteran Rey DeLeon (10th Planet NYC) took a riding time overtime victory over Mateo Maldonado (Animals MMA). In the Everlast fight of the night, Fatima Kline (Black Hole Jiu Jitsu) and Sophia Cassella (Serra BJJ) treated the fans to a back-and-forth scrap with both athletes showing their best attacks. The match came down to the wire in overtime, where Kline was able to escape an armbar with seconds left to win by riding time. In the first superfight of the night, AJ Discianni (Droogs MMA / Paramount BJJ) and Dan Pizzo (Serra BJJ) got the crowd going with a high-level match that ultimately went to a 6-minute draw.
Look for RiSE to return with its next event in late Fall 2022.
Click below to watch the RiSE 9 replay on Flo Grappling: