Who’s Next finale: Kyle Chambers is ‘ready to go to hell and back’ against Izaak Michell

On Thursday, July 14, Kyle Chambers will look to become the first-ever “Who’s Next” champion when he takes on recent ADCC Trials winner Izaak Michell in a no-time limit, submission-only match. More than just bragging rights, a win would also earn Chambers a $10,000 cash prize and a three-game contract with Who’s Number One.

The match is the culmination of FloGrappling’s competitive reality show “Who’s Next.” To secure his place in the final, Chambers defeated Max Hanson, Mike Rakshan and Andrew Tackett on the show in two weeks.

With a win over Michell, Chambers will have launched himself from the “up-and-coming” ranks and into an established elite competitor.

“I feel like the show went pretty well because I’m getting a lot of positive feedback from a lot of people,” Chambers told Grappling Insider.

Overall, Chambers enjoyed his experience on “Who’s Next,” which at times felt more like summer camp than competition. Because even though the contestants were on different teams, the whole house bonded as one unit.

“Every night everyone was hanging out,” Chambers said. “Everyone was having dinner together, hanging out in the shed, hanging out in the pool, taking cold dips. Yes, it was two separate teams, but it definitely felt like one house, for the most part.

A black belt from the 10th Planet, Chambers was able to expand his game and learn new techniques while on the show, enjoying access to different sparring partners and new coaches.

“There are a lot of positive things you get from other people…Adam Bradley, for example, he has a lot of things from [Andre] Galvao. I don’t train with Galvao, so it’s cool to see some of the Atos stuff. Same thing with Jansen [Gomes]. It has the more traditional Checkmat bottom. You see part of it. With Tim Spriggs, he shows me wrestling tricks that I’m not used to having at a high level. It’s cool that you get little things from everyone, just cross-training, little things that you might not get if you stay with your own team.

Interspersed with high-level practices and high-stakes no-time limit matches were team challenges – the reality TV element of “Who’s Next.” In the show’s most memorable challenge, contestants attempted to knock a bull to the ground. Shortly before this challenge, Chambers and teammate Gomes rode for 45 minutes straight.

Chambers failed (only little Andrew Tackett managed to take down the bull), but ultimately enjoyed the experience.

“We just took a shower,” Chambers recalled. “We go there, we see the bulls, and I’m like, ‘this would be the day I fight the bull that weighs something like 800 pounds,’ but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. It’s also something something I would do many times in the future.

Outside the training room, Chambers’ cardio was tested in a grueling 90-minute semi-final match against Andrew Tackett in what was arguably the best contest of the season.

“It kinda sucked because we weren’t both tired,” Chambers said of the game. “I was like, ‘I don’t know how long this is going to take.’ Because mentally, we were both like, ‘Okay, we’re going to get tired.’ But after 30, 40 minutes, an hour…it could be forever just because both of our cardio’s are so good, so it comes down to technique Luckily I train with a lot of, like Geo [Martinez]lots of short people who also have a tall gas tank, so that set me up for someone like Tackett.

Indeed, conventional wisdom might say that the smaller and younger Tackett would have the stamina advantage over Chambers. But Chambers credits the 10th Planet system and his longtime trainer Geo Martinez for helping him develop a “little guy” game that allowed him to be dangerous long after an hour of wrestling.

According to Chambers, his game is tailor-made for games with no time limit.

“I think the 10th Planet style is really beneficial for No Time Limit because now we don’t have to worry about guard passing as much. We’re really sub-based anyway. We don’t try not just getting points but just holding on and hoping time goes by We’re trained to go kill… So me, having a little guy game that has flexibility, good cardio, that add to that, just because I can go all day if I need to. I’m also technical enough to get the finish. I feel like any guy from 10th Planet has the advantage with no time limit, but also having a smaller guys game gives me the advantage as well.

Perhaps more than anything else, Chambers’ win over Tackett bolstered his mental toughness.

“I feel like it just developed me mentally,” he said. “It allowed me to understand what I’m really capable of. So many times in this match, you want to give up or give up, but then you realize how much effort and work you’ve put in, how much you want it. You get so much stronger, mentally… You go beyond your limits and reach a new level. I felt like I had become so much stronger physically and mentally, and overall a better competitor just because of this game.

Chambers will rely on that mental toughness when he takes on Michell. Longtime sparring partner of Craig Jones and ADCC Trials champion, Michell was the opposing team’s first choice on “Who’s Next.” Like Chambers, Michell is known for his leg locks. But according to Chambers, the two grapplers tend to attack the legs in different ways.

“I feel like my entries, a lot of them are coming from a different, more inverted angle, compared to a smash position. Much of the time [Michell] collapses then goes into a leg lock position, but mine is more of an open guard…”

Chambers is right; he tends to do his best from open guard where he can use his unique, explosive inputs for leg attacks. Chambers believes it will be those unique entries coupled with his finishing ability that will lead him to victory against Michell.

“I don’t think he’s fought anyone like me before,” Chambers said. “I feel like my entries are different. I respect his game. He’s strong, really technical. I know none of us can afford to make a mistake. I feel like I can be tricky and I feel like my game is one of those things that if I can shove you into anything, you’re in danger. That’s my advantage. I just need this small window, half an inch in front of him and I can kill him. It’s the last 10 percent of the submissions, those last finishing aspects of the stream. I feel like that’s my edge. I’m really good to end once I get there.

Chambers vs. Michell will be the final match of the night – following Gordon Ryan and Pedro Marinho’s battle for the heavyweight title – and like all other ‘Who’s Next’ matches, it will be a no time limit match.

Although Chambers is confident he will win, he is less sure how long it might take.

“If you asked me that before the show, I would have told you maybe 19 seconds or something crazy because I have finishes like that,” Chambers said when asked how long he was. expects his match against Michell to last. “But after Tackett, doing 90 minutes, my mind is so expanded. I want a quick game but I’m ready to go to hell and come back. I’m ready for these four-hour games, a five-hour game. I respect him, we could have a little feeling before we go full throttle. Could be a banger from the start so I mean under 30 [minutes]but you never know.”

How to watch: Who’s Number One will take place on Thursday, July 14 and will be streamed live on FloGrappling (subscription required).

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