Date: October 2, 2004

Place: The Episcopal School of Knoxville
950 Episcopal School Way
Knoxville, TN 37932


The first Tennessee open MMA Gear state championship was held in Knoxville Tennessee on October 2, 2004. This was a great event with great competitors from all over the southeastern United States. Over 120 competitors participated from 15 teams. The teams included Jacare's Team Alliance, Helio Soneca BJJ Academy, Luiz Palhares BJJ Academy, Brad Hatcher BJJ Academy, and the Hosford BJJ Academy, just to name a few. There were many excellent and highly technical matches, and the competition for the team trophy was fierce. Best technical fighter awards went to Josh Cate (Team Soneca) and Chris Moriatx (Team Alliance). Team trophies went to Alliance (1st), Soneca (2nd), and Palhares (3rd).

Competitors of all ranks and weights in the masters division in this tournament were combined. I was the lightest in the division at 156 lbs. The heaviest competitor in my division was about 190 pounds. I won all of my matches by submission.

Before the tournament with my teammates Josh, Chris, and Carlos (and Carlos' son John) Josh won the purple belt middleweight division


I won my semi-final match by rear naked choke. No Pictures.

The pictures below are from the final match. My opponent in this match (Paul) actually beat the heaviest guy in the masters division, much to my relief.
Below, I am moving into side control. He had excellent movement and was very difficult to pin.


I finally get Side Control


I am getting the arm lock submission here.

Click here for larger picture of above


Helping up my opponent after the match


With my coach Soneca

Click here for larger picture of above


With my teammate Bernardo Biolchini. He performed the most amazing feat of the day. He won his division (super heavyweight purple), then drove to Kentucky and fought in an NHB match, which he won by submission in about 30 seconds! Amazing!!


With my teammate, Robert Butterini. (He won the Middleweight Blue Belt division)


My teammate Carlos in his first tournament match


My teammate Kurt. (He won the Blue belt super super heavyweight division)


With my friend Payman



Some of Team Soneca Horsing Around (Rick, Laura, Soneca, Bernardo, and Kurt)


Tennessee State Championship Results

Masters Division (All weights, ranks combined)

First (Gold): Rick Sparks (Helio Soneca BJJ Academy, Knoxville, TN)
Second (Silver): Paul Leiby (Brad Hatcher BJJ Academy, Maryville, TN)
Third (Bronze): Jim McPhearson (Jacare's BJJ Academy, Atlanta, GA)


Other 1st Place (Gold) Winners From Soneca's Academy
Bernardo Biolchini: Super Heavyweight Purple
Josh Cates: Middleweight Purple
Kurt Rasmussin: Super Super Heavyweight Blue Belt
Kevin Purdy: Super Heavyweight Blue Belt
Robert Butterini: Middleweight Blue Belt


Back to Main