Polaris 25 is scheduled for September 25th, 2023 and we’ve put together a full preview of both the Absolute Grand Prix and the main event superfight between Aljamain Sterling and Mike Grundy. The promotion has put together a fantastic tournament with a grand prize of $30,000 that has attracted 8 of the best grapplers on the planet from a variety of different weight classes. Polaris always stage great events and the production value is always significantly higher than the majority of grappling promotions around the world. That, combined with the incredible lineup for the tournament, means that there will undoubtedly be plenty of highlights for the fans in attendance and watching live.
Polaris 25: Absolute Grand Prix Full Preview
Main Event: Aljamain Sterling v Mike Grundy
The main event is a battle between MMA veterans Aljamain Sterling and Mike Grundy, both of whom actually have a background in wrestling before they made the transition to that sport. As a former UFC bantamweight world champion, Sterling has reached a higher level of success in MMA and he has shown fantastic submission finishing skills alongside that wrestling pedigree. Grundy is a tough veteran who will undoubtedly be a very game opponent, and it’s going to be difficult for Sterling to find the finish against him. Even if he doesn’t manage to submit Grundy, Sterling should still win a decision anyway.
Absolute Grand Prix Preview
Fabricio Andrey is the lightest competitor in this preview of the Absolute Grand Prix at Polaris 25 so he’ll be coming in at a disadvantage in every single match. Andrey is an incredible grappler though, so he could manage to overcome that weight discrepancy if it’s not too big. It’s going to be tough enough for Andrey to make it out of the opening round, but it isn’t hard to imagine if he gets a decent draw. From that point on the odds are going to be increasingly stacked against him though and it’s incredibly unlikely that he manages to win the whole tournament.
Owen Livesey is one of the most exciting grapplers to emerge in recent years and he uses his elite Judo skills to great effect in each of his matches. The only downside is that Livesey isn’t known as much of a finisher, and his wins generally come by way of decision instead. The ruleset won’t force anyone to stand with him and there are some brilliant submission specialists in the bracket, so it’ll be tough to avoid being caught by any of them. His path to victory is essentially 3 grueling decision wins in one night but Livesey does have the skillset to do that, he would just need to play the perfect game in all of his matches in order to win the tournament.
Prediction: Dark Horse
Kaynan Duarte is the most highly-accomplished competitor in this preview and he’ll likely come into the Polaris 25 Absolute Grand Prix as the heaviest too. Duarte won the under 99kg division at ADCC 2022 and even against grapplers in his own weight class he would probably be the favorite to win a tournament. He’s not unbeatable and he’s been caught plenty of times in the past but if he’s able to stick to his gameplan then he should come away with the grand prize here.
Izaak Michell is one of the top competitors to come out of Australia in recent years and he was actually one half of the most exciting match at ADCC 2022. He’s not an overly prolific competitor though and the opposition at Polaris 25 represent a big step up compared to what he’s used to. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against some of the best grapplers on the planet and there are a few people in the bracket he’s definitely capable of getting past. The favorites will be very difficult for him to beat though and unless he’s made some huge improvements in the past year, it’s unlikely he’s able to do so.
Roberto Jimenez is easily one of the most exciting grapplers on the planet and he’s more than capable of winning a difficult tournament, as he recently became the Polaris middleweight champion after winning another grand prix. He would be undersized against most of the other competitors in the bracket but he’s no stranger to absolute tournaments and he’s beaten bigger men plenty of times before. There’s some truly elite competitors here though and Jimenez would have to beat either one or both of the reigning ADCC champions at 88kg and 99kg, so it’s incredibly difficult even if it is possible.
Prediction: Dark Horse
Jason Rau is a very well-respected competitor who is often referred to as one of the best leglockers on the planet. He been within inches of winning ADCC Trials in the past and he’s managed to beat some elite competitors like PJ Barch and Jon ‘Thor’ Blank too. Rau is capable of submitting pretty much anyone, and how far hegets in the bracket really depends on whether or not he’s able to drag his opponents into playing his game. The only issue is that it’s going to be difficult to do that three times in a row, and some of his opponents have incredible leglock defense.
Giancarlo Bodoni is another one of the favorites in this preview of the Absolute Grand Prix at Polaris 25, and he’s been an impressive competitor for quite some time. ADCC 2022 was the turning point in his career though as he was able to run through the 88kg division and immediately establish himself as the top dog in that weight class. His toughest matchup in this bracket is undoubtedly Kaynan Duarte and he’s lost a decision to him before, but he’s more than capable of beating everyone else. If Bodoni can beat Duarte or someone else takes him out instead, the tournament may very well be Bodoni’s to lose.
Marcin Maciulewicz is the biggest unknown quantity in the whole tournament, as he’s a rising young talent who has never been up against this level of competition before. He won his place in this bracket by beating a field of tough opponents at a Contenders tournament just a month before the event, so he definitely deserves a chance to prove himself. Stranger things have happened of course, but a complete unknown coming in and beating out two ADCC world champions in order to take home the grand prize is definitely unlikely.
The full Polaris 25: Absolute Grand Prix live event, including all of the competitors detailed in the above preview, is available to watch live on September 30th, 2023, on UFC Fight Pass.