The Middleweight division of the WNO Championships has suffered a pretty big blow with the news that Craig Jones will no longer be able to compete at the event. On the bright side, the man stepping in to replace him is none other than Canadian superstar Oliver Taza. Both Jones and Taza announced the news on their respective official Instagram accounts, and the last-minute replacement represents a huge opportunity for Taza as he will get the chance to compete against some incredible competitors.
This is actually the second replacement in the tournament’s Middleweight division as another top contender, Pedigo Submission Fighting’s Andrew Wiltse, was forced to withdraw and he was replaced by recently promoted black belt Pedro Marinho. Coincidentally, Marinho and Taza have actually crossed paths last year where the former emerged victorious in the final of a JitsKing grand prix event.
Along with this opportunity for revenge, Taza also has several more chances to run back matches that he’s lost before at the WNO Championships. He was previously defeated by Tye Ruotolo who put on a dominating performance in the opening round of Third Coast Grappling Kumite 6, and Micael Galvao also shut down Taza under the same ruleset that they’ll be using at the upcoming tournament. Alongside this, there’s also the intriguing prospect of a match between Taza and Dante Leon. As the two most successful grapplers to come out of Canada, the idea of one of them cementing their place above the other with a win at the event is an interesting story-line to pay attention to.
While fans will no doubt be sad to see Craig Jones removed from the Middleweight division of the WNO Championships, there aren’t many people better situated to replace him than Oliver Taza.