The 2016 Pan Championships were held in the University of California, Irvine’s Bren Events Center. The Pan is arguably the second toughest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in the World, following the World Championships. Competitors from all over the world filled the venue from Thursday, March 17th to Sunday, March 20th.
Day 1 was quite successful for Team Crazy 88 as they ended the day with a 100% medal rate. Newly sponsored VHTS athlete, Byung Ju Lee was up first in the gigantic Blue Belt lightweight division. The Korean immigrant had to fight through seven opponents en route to the podium. He submitted his first opponent with a triangle arm bar in roughly 45 seconds. The next five matches were hard fought points victories – no judges decision though. In the finals, he conceded an advantage off the initial double guard-pull, per gameplan, but was unable to come back from the deficit. He would sit on the podium at second place, his first medal at the Pan.
Chris “Short Round” Tran fought in the purple belt rooster weight division. He fought in three matches. He won the first by triangle punch choke after being up 5-0. His 2nd match would be against his Finals opponent from 2015. Tran controlled the bout and won via penalty point after he and his opponent were tied 2-2. In his third and final match, he and his opponent scrambled until Tran got his back taken. He was able to escape, but it was too late and the match was over. Since that third match was the semi-finals, Chris Tran walked away with third place.
The girls were up on Day 2. Much like Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, their performance was a bit underwhelming. However, they promise that the Worlds will be their equivalent of The Dark Knight.
Day 3 competitors would be Alfonso Washington in the Brown Belt division and Black Belt Tim Spriggs competing in the Open.
Alfonso Washington went 1-1 in the Ultra Heavy division. He won his first match by big points and then lost in the quarterfinals by advantage. The quarterfinals is the most heartbreaking round as the competitor is one victory away from a medal. He will be very motivated for the Abu Dhabi World Pro in mid-April.
Tim Spriggs entered the Black Belt Open weight class and spent a lot of time on the feet utilizing his strong judo and wrestling takedowns. He faced all larger opponents and crushed his opponents heading to the semi-finals beating Carlos Eduardo Farias (Roberto Traven), Otavio de Souza Nalati (Guigo JJ), and Joao Gabriel Rocha (Soul Fighters). In the semi-finals, Tim scored first against Bernardo Faria, but was unable to secure the win and placed third.
Making it onto the podium at such a difficult tournament is exemplary and Spriggs prides himself with the accomplishment. Unfortunately, due to a knee injury, the “#1 Stunna” dropped out of his weight class the following day.
Overall, Crazy 88 performed well and got some good experience before the World Championship in June! It’s always fun to test yourself against the best in the world and the Pan is one of the few opportunities where that is possible! See everyone in a few weeks!