BRISTOL – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is on the rise as a professional sport and spectators across Bristol and its surrounding areas can tune into one of the fastest growing sports this Saturday.
Co-owners of Ascension Athletics in Bristol, Daniel Mina and Jeff Haddad, are set to host the fourth Ironman Grappling Championships.
The submission grappling promotion will have 25 matches and feature some of the top grapplers in the country. The event is headlined by Connecticut natives and current UFC fighter William "Nightmare" Knight and "Notorious" Nick Newell.
Mina said the promotion has grown since its first event and the Ironman Grappling Championships is a chance to continue to spread awareness of the up and coming sport and the benefits to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
“It’s such a young sport and one that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. This gives people a chance to see exactly what it’s about,” Mina said. “It’s just about creating the awareness of what it is and how it can help because at the end of the day Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a sport professionally is great, but it's even better as a tool in someone's life.”
Mina said Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be used to better someone mentally, physically and emotionally.
He first got into the craft about eight years ago and has since wanted to spread it to as many people as possible. He first began to do that through his gym and then expanded to elementary afterschool programs and through the Ironman Grappling promotion.
“Whether it’s a child who struggles with attention and discipline or an adult that struggles with social anxiety, this sport has it all,” Mina said.
The growth in the sport has not only been reflected in his gym as his youngest student is 4 years old and his oldest is 67, but it has also been reflected in gaining the attention of higher ranked fighters like Knight and Newell.
Mina said it’s a big deal that fighters like Knight and Newell are giving back to the sport and pushing it forward.
“It’s incredible. You're talking about the sport of mixed martial arts and in New England, these two guys are very well known” he said. “Both of these guys are really giving back to the sport.”
The event will take place at Ascension Athletics located at 99 Farmington Ave. The doors open at 4 p.m. and the event starts at 5 p.m. The event can also be live streamed at combatmedia.tv.