[ February 19, 2022 by Paul Adams 0 Comments ]



We have been keeping it rollin’ over here at the High Rollerz HQ this month with visits from UFC champ Brandon Moreno, up and coming Terrance Mckinney (peep that last fight!), and many other badasses within the fight game.  ESPECIALLY on the night of High Rollerz 12, where we said to hell with rashguards and put on the gi.  That’s right, an absolute tournament with ten black belts competing for the High Rollerz Gi Championship belt.  As our co-main event, MMA fighter Amanda Leve matched up against Melissa Cueto out of Alliance BJJ San Diego for the female belt.  You can read along for a play-by-play, or check out the action on our YouTube page where you’ll be carried through the action by UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar and BJJ Black Belt and World Champion Talia Marie Vaughan!

1: Tiki Aquino vs Gabriel Checco

Tiki Aquino comes out of Hit ‘Em Up Fight Team and has been seen on the mats on numerous occasions at High Rollerz, going as far back as our Cops vs. Stoners event (repping team Stoner, obviously) back at HR 9.  Gabriel Checco is a household name, or at least on the Las Vegas streets.  Running his own school Zangief Jiu Jitsu, he’s either competing, reffing, or coaching at many of the tournaments on the west coast.  The match starts with Tiki aggressive, but he quickly finds himself pinned against the cage with Checco’s pressure.  From there, Checco was able to pick Tiki up, move him to the center of the ring, and go for a takedown into top half.  After a bit of guard play, Gabriel goes for a choke that doesn’t get him the tap but a pass to side control.  A scramble commences, Tiki is playing great defense but Gabriel is relentless.  He takes Tiki’s back, sinks a body lock, BREAKS HIS FINGER (@8:15 mark!), and THEN sinks the RNC at the 3 minute mark.  Hot damn.

2: Dave Zennario vs Jean Dalua

Dave Zennario out of Vicente Junior BJJ Team matches up against Jean Dalua from A Force BJJ.  After a false start with Dalua jumping guard (against rules, the match quickly resumed and went to the ground with Dalua attempting a toe hold which Zennario defends expertly.  After a minute of some impressive 50/50 and a berimbolo by Zennario, he nearly takes Dalua’s back but Dalua remains persistent with his foot attacks making Zennario lose the position.  Some impressive gi play and back take attempts from both fighters, and eventually Dalua finds himself on his feet and jumps back into a straight ankle lock.  After a bit of defense from Zennario, Dalua rolls with the ankle towards the cage and gets the tap.  An impressively technical match from both competitors.

3: Armando Esquer vs Rodrigo Gutierrez

This match starts off with Armando grabbing a quick half-guard pull in the middle of the cage.  Guitierrez makes for an excellent scramble and chases for Armando’s back but Armando takes it back to the ground with a kimura grip.  Rodrigo passes the kimura attack and goes for a d’arce attempt.  This match includes some beautiful scrambling throughout.  Armando takes a deep half from the bottom, and Rodrigo’s continues to pressure from top until he takes side control and eventually full mount.  From there, Gutierrez lays heavy pressure on and sneaks an ezekiel choke under the throat.

That’s right, an ezekiel choke, cause we’re wearing gis up in this b*tch.  Chokin’ people with your own shirts!

4: Austin Baker vs James Wilson

The mere sight of Austin Baker strikes James Wilson with fear and makes him leave the premises.  Austin Baker, representing, Sol Jiu Jitsu, wins by forfeit.

5: Albert Morales vs Leandro Rounaud

Albert Morales comes out to the mats, chiefs one down, and when the smoke clears his hand is raised by referee Darren Branch.  Good times all around.

6: Moises “Honey Badger” Antonio Lopez vs Bill “The Grill” Cooper

Nobody pulls off red like Bill “The Grill” Cooper, who rocked a red gi representing BJJ Fanatics.  Meanwhile, ol’ “Honey Badger” Moises Antonio Lopez was decked out with a black and yellow Wu-Tang gi with ‘Bring Da Ruckus!’ written across the back.  Anyway, enough about badass gis, let’s get to the match.  Cooper shoots to take half guard and push forward but Lopez rolls over to find himself in a favorable leg entrapment.  Bill maintains a figure four as a defense to the attack but Lopez maintains on top, postured back, and attempting numerous footlocks.  As Bill puts some pressure on to come on top, “Honey Badger” finally finds the successful footlock and gets the tap.

7: Paulo Andre Lanzillotti vs Javier Torres

After a bit of hand fighting, Paulo shows off his agility by going to his back and flipping Torres over with a solid sweep.  Torres responds with immediate leg attacks and places Lanzillotti on the defense.  After a moment, Paulo’s pressure and control is seen for the first time this evening.

Paulo begins to get heavy and a scramble breaks out, which ends with a pass to side control by Paulo, and shortly after a back take.  Javier defends excellently against the cage and uses it to stand up.  But, like a 6’2 spider monkey, Paulo Andre stays stuck to Javier’s back with a body triangle, defying the laws of gravity.  After Torres spends some time breaking the figure four, Paulo sinks in a deep neck crank (still from the back), that takes Torres to the ground.  As soon as they fell to the mats, it was shortly over with a tap from Javier Torres.  An excellent match between two expert contenders.

8: Gabriel Checco vs Jean Dalua

Hey, do you remember last month’s event HR 11: Big vs. Mighty?  Where we had small opponents vs much larger opponents?  Well, it seems that the matchup gods decided to pay respect to that with this 60 lb weight difference between 205lb Gabriel Checco matched up against 145lb Jean Dalua.  Talk about an ABSOLUTE tournament!

Dalua shoots in and immediately begins to play guard.  With collar grips in, Dalua attempts a scissor sweep, but it doesn’t seem to be the right move against Checco.  After a few minutes of a strong half guard retention from Jean Dalua, eventually Gabriel Checco uses his size advantage to sink a collar choke from half guard.

9: Austin Baker vs Rodrigo Gutierrez

Austin Baker won his first match by forfeit, so he’s coming in fresh against Gutierrez.  But even with that, he immediately shows off some impressive Judo with a foot sweep and scrambles to side control and then full mount.  Baker’s pressure is immediate and while Gutierrez scores a great recovery and half-guard position, Austin Baker continues to put the pressure on.  Gutierrez pulls out a great reversal, but as soon the two stand up he is snapped back to the ground by Baker.  He eventually moves to a knee on belly, then full mount, and then Gutierrez retains a half guard!  Excellent back and forth between these two competitors.  From the top, Austin’s persistent pressure gets him back to side control, knee on belly again, and then a great switch to an arm bar.  After some defense, Austin Baker eventually snatches the arm out and into a submission.

10: Albert Morales vs Moises “Honey Badger” Antonio Lopez

UFC Veteran Albert Morales with his Vibes Papers gi against the Honey Badger’s Wu Tang gi..tonight’s style ain’t nothing to f*ck with.

Lopez lands a great elevator sweep but Morales immediately goes for a pass attempt.  Morales then escapes a kimura attack with an arm bar attempt and almost gets it, but the Honey Badger escapes (holy shit what a sequence!) with his arm in tact!  Shortly after, Moises goes for his infamous leg entrapments and Albert escapes into a great deep half guard.  After a near sweep, Moises ends up on the offensive with another leg attack.  They both land in straight ankle attacks, but Moises got to it first, and ended the match with another victory.

11: Nat Robert Hagberg vs Paulo Andre Lanzillotti

This is Hagberg’s first round of the night, he too won from some type of forfeit earlier.  He’s about to meet in the middle with Paulo who has a 40lb weight advantage.  Paulo immediately grabs Nat’s gi and Nat goes to pulling guard.  With a great invert my Nat, Paulo still maintains to get a back take again and attempts to take the neck.  Nat defends excellently but Paulo switches from an arm bar, then into a back take but Nat pulls a great guard again.  Nat makes a great sweep but Paulo ends up playing his open guard, which is evidently as good as his passing game.  Some great spider guard was displayed by Paulo and Nat was stuck in Paulo’s web (yeeeeah).  Some great scrambles and transitions were exchanged, and Paulo ends up with another excellent back take and armbar attempt.  Another exchange, another armbar attempt, and we make it to the first overtime of the night!

Paulo starts on the back, and immediately jumps to into an armbar attack and in 40 seconds of overtime, Paulo takes the tap.  Now, all he has to do is survive 40 seconds of attack from Nat and if he does, he moves on to the finals.  Nat lets it rip with an immediate face crank and gives it everything he’s got.  Paulo survives the crank attempt and the duration of the attack, making his way to the next rounds!

12: CJ Smith vs Josh Luchessi

CJ makes grips to an immediate guard pull and goes to a De La Riva.  After a bit of a scramble, CJ finds the back door and makes his way to the top in half guard.  A great defense and attack by Josh.  CJ lands a step back pass to knee on belly and then side control.  More scrambling ensues after CJ Smith goes for an armbar attempt and he ends up landing in a triangle.  While seemingly lettling Josh Luchessi break out of the triangle, CJ Smith immediately returns to the armbar attack and gets a quick tap.

13: Gabriel Checco vs Austin Baker

Austin Baker outweighs Gabriel Checco by 50lbs (250 vs 200lb!) on this match up, but they both look like absolute units.  As the match starts, Baker immediately shows off his knowledge of judo with numerous attempts until he successfully sinks an outside heel trip.  Austin immediately starts to pass, but Checco keeps a great butterfly guard and attempts a straight arm lock.  Austin then proceeds to pass to side mount.  Austin gets one hook in and slowly goes to a back take controlling it with a collar grip.  Gabriel Checco successfully defends and comes back up to put the pressure on Austin.  Austin Baker then pulls out an elevator sweep and gets back on top.  Back and forth in this match!  Gabriel begins to go for a great double take and Austin pulls out an amazing judo sweep to the top again.  A standstill ensues and when they finally stand back up, Austin Baker lands successful uchi mata hip toss.  From there, Gabriel pulls guard and, and makes it into Overtime.

Checco starts off overtime taking Austin Baker’s back.  Checco attempts a lapel choke into an armbar attempt and Austin Baker breaks out into the end of the first overtime.

Austin starts on the back and Gabriel finds his way out and almost gets a leglock on Austin Baker.  Time runs out, and we go into Sudden Death!  Whoever gets the first take down wins!

With his judo background, Austin Baker lands an uchi mata and wins against Checco.

14: Moises “Honey Badger” Antonio Lopez vs Paulo Andre Lanzillotti

Another big weight difference with Paulo weighing 40lbs more than Moises, but Paulo ends up pulling guard first.  Moises responds with immediate leg attacks (who would have expected?) but Paulo keeps heavy.  Paulo finds his way to the back with Moises wrapped up and eventually takes the top with a katagatami attempt.  Moises maintains a half guard defense to the attack and makes his way on top.  Some beautiful scrambles occur and Paulo ends up on top in side control again.  Paulo attempts a great cross choke and Moises defends once again.  Paulo keeps threatening Moises’ neck from knee on belly and numerous other attacks but he maintains to keep on surviving beautifully.  Paulo sinks a inverted triangle on Moises but he keeps him stacked against the cage and survives for 40 seconds against the wall.  We’re going into overtime.

Paulo starts on the back.  He gives up the back and goes for a straight armbar attempt and Moises defends once again.  HONEY BADGER DON’T GIVE A F*CK!

Second Overtime starts with Moises on the back attack, and Paulo, you better protect ya’ neck.  Which he does and they scramble into a series of leg attacks.  They go the distance, and we go into SUDDEN DEATH!

In a few quick guard pulls but nothing set for points, Paulo lands a sweep and gets the points to take him to the Final match.


15: Amada Leve vs Melissa Cueto

Our ladies match of the evening did not disappoint!  Amanda Leve is fighting out of Precision Jiu Jitsu Acadaemy while Melissa Cueto comes from Alliance BJJ out of San Diego.  Both are black belts and went to an immediate game on the ground.  Amanda breaks Cueto’s guard but Cueto pulls into a De La Riva.  The guard game persists until Cueto pulls herself to the top.  They reset to the middle and Cueto pulls guard again.  The clash of Cueto’s guard against Amanda showed for some very impressive technical grip fighting.  Melissua Cueto eventually pulls a great sweep and comes out on top.  The back and forth and grip games finds Amanda on her back but with Cueto in her closed guard.  I mean, the technical grips and back and forth sweeps in this match is a master class.  After a ten minute stalemate of back and forth control, we go to Overtime to see the two opponents fight of back attacks.  Melissa Cueto takes Leve’s back first.

After a great attack from Melissa, she eventually takes top mount, attempts an ezekiel but Amanda is saved by the bell.

Amanda goes for the back attack and ends up sinking an impressive bow and arrow choke!  WE HAVE A NEW LADIES GI CHAMPION!


16: Paulo Andre Lanzillotti vs Austin Baker

We’ve all seen Austin Baker’s impressive judo to this point, right?  I mean, even Paulo Lanzillotti has seen it, so he plays it smart and immediately pulls guard to avoid getting hip tossed by a 250lb beast.  From closed guard, Paulo immediately attacks an omoplata but Austin grabs his own pant leg and defends the attack.

Austin defends the attack and makes it to Paulo’s closed guard again.  He maintains underneath Austin and really puts on the aggression against Austin Baker.  This is everything you want to see in a match for the High Rollerz Gi Championship.  Paulo performed numerous attacks but after landing in Austin’s closed guard, he quickly found his way back on top in side control.  Austin stacks Paulo against the cage, makes his way to north-south and then takes his back.  Numerous dominant positions here from Austin Baker, and Paulo is doing everything he can to defend the pressure.  Out of an escape attempt, Austin Baker attacks an americana and gets the tap, and the belt!


And there you have it, ladies and gents.  Another High Rollerz in the books, and two new High Rollerz Gi Champions in the world.  Be ready for next month’s March Madness, where 8 teams make their way through the bracket to become number one!




Director: Matt Staudt
Producers: Mike Imber + Matt Staudt
Host: Matt Perino
Commentators: Stephan Bonnar + Talia Marie Vaughan
Referee: Darren Branch
Head of Production: Edwardo Vasquez
Lighting: Philip Franzone & Dylan Frank
Sound: Sal Rotolo
Photography: Paul Adams
Art: Jud Lively + Michael Carroll
Crew: Jair Romero & Joaquin Rivera
Security: Elite Security Specialists, LLC

Produced & owned by BAM Productions

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