On Thursday, UFC Fight Pass announced via a press release that a newly-founded submission grappling promotion, Kinektic, would be launching on the UFC’s proprietary streaming platform.
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Kinektic Submission Grappling, the promotion states, was co-founded by UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber, Roy Jones Jr. Promotions CEO Keith Veltre, and veteran combat sports broadcaster Sean Wheelock. According to the release, “Kinektic is a unique tournament-style promotion that will feature athletes from various combat sports disciplines, including mixed martial arts, grappling, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and more.”
The promotion announced that Faber will serve as Kinektic’s Vice President of Business Development, and will also carry out mat-side and backstage interviews. UFC flyweight Paige VanZant will act as the promotion’s lead color commentator, and promotion co-founder Wheelock will join VanZant on the broadcasting team.
Kinektic’s ruleset was outlined in the release, as well.
During the Kinektic show, four teams of five grapplers will vie for victory in a one-night tournament. The matches between the grapplers of each will each be contested over an eight-minute period, respectively.
While not explicitly stated in the release, it stands to reason that the winner of a match will stay on the mat and advance to face the next team member of the opposing team. In the event of a draw, both competitors will lead to the “elimination of both athletes.”
The release adds that “[a] feature unique to Kinektic Grappling is that the order in which athletes compete is not predetermined,” but teams will have a 30-second period designed for “strategically deciding which team member will participate next.”
Each one of each team’s five members must compete once, and the first team in a match to suffer five eliminations will be defeated. The winning teams in the opening semi-final round will advance to the tournament finals later that night.
According to the release, team captains will have the ability to compete, should they wish.
Following a report from The Body Lock on Twitter, many fans and pundits alike pointed out that the ruleset and overall concept behind Kinektic largely resembled that of QUINTET, a fellow team-grappling promotion launched in April of 2018 by UFC Hall of Famer Kazushi Sakuraba and former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett.
QUINTET, which has also aired its shows on UFC Fight Pass, was the first promotion to employ the team-grappling tournament format on the world stage. QUINTET featured four teams of five grapplers, a winner-stay-on format, the dual elimination in the event of the draw rule, and eight-minute match time (QUINTET also uses four-minute matches in the event of a quantified weight disparity between opponents).
Both Urijah Faber and Sean Wheelock were involved with QUINTET at one point, with Faber leading Team Team Alpha Male to a tournament-winning performance at QUINTET 3 and Wheelock providing commentary for the same event.
Given the pair’s involvement in QUINTET, two theories on the apparent similarities between Kinektic and QUINTET began to materialize on social media: either Kinektic received the “blessing” of QUINTET to establish an apparently identical product, or the promotion utilized several of QUINTET’s tenets without consulting QUINTET.
According to QUINTET co-founder Josh Barnett, the latter is true.
Citing a tweet from Twitter user @Monsneaks that referenced The Body Lock’s report of Kinektic’s launch on Twitter, Barnett wrote, “Yes…what is this indeed? Seems like something I may have seen before. Starts with a Q I think…”
Yes…what is this indeed? Seems like something I may have seen before. Starts with a Q I think…? https://t.co/TZ38sRAp5n
— ??? ????????? (@JoshLBarnett) July 26, 2019
When asked by The Body Lock as to whether or not he or Sakuraba were consulted about the founding of Kinektic ahead of time, Barnett replied, “Nope. Not at all. Just found out about it here.”
In response to a reply from Twitter user @Grabaka_Hitman, who wrote, “Looks like a (expletive) lawsuit to me,” Barnett responded by speculating legal action could potentially be in the cards.
“Who knows…just might be,” wrote Barnett on Twitter.
Stewart Fulton, a commentator for QUINTET, viewed any similarities between the two promotions as Kinektic taking inspiration from QUINTET, tweeting, “KINEKTIC Submission Grappling. QUINTET has spawned a new era of team grappling.”
Kinektic’s first event is set for August 16. The event will feature several notable names, including teams led by MMA legend and personality Chael Sonnen, UFC veteran and submission specialist Chris Lytle, UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith, and prolific grappling star and Polaris middleweight and light heavyweight champion Craig Jones.
The names of additional grapplers are expected to be announced in the coming days and weeks. The release maintained a wide pool of possible competitors, stating that Kinektic events “will feature athletes from various combat sports disciplines, including mixed martial arts, grappling, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and more.”
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.