Buckeye grad making waves in Jiu Jitsu
by Casey Pritchard assistant sports editor
take down high school wrestlers. Now, he’s turning the trick on mixed martial artists. A 2008 graduate of Buckeye Union High School,
Kellend Brookover used to use his massive frame to
Brookover has found his niche in Jiu Jitsu and is having plenty of success. After just nine months in the sport, Brookover has already won a couple of tournaments, most recently the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships in Long Beach, Calif. He won the Ultra Heavy division, earning him a blue belt. “Most people, to get their blue belt, it takes three years, and it took me nine months,” Brookover said. “There is no set time structure, it’s all about your progression as an individual. I really like that. You don’t have to wait a year or two years each belt, it’s all about how quickly you can learn.”
at Siege MMA where he’s instructed by Jesus Artesi, Andrew Gardineer and Andrew Brittin. They’re affiliated with Lotus Club Jiu Jitsu, which is a national Brazilian Jiu Jitsu association, Brookover said. Having a strong background in wrestling has helped the 220-pound Brookover progress so quickly in Jiu Jitsu. “When he first came, he was very rugged, everything
Brookover has learned quickly through his tutelage
was just by brute force and strength, and because of his size, he’s a big guy, he’d get away with a lot,” Artesi said. Despite having that strength, athletes who were technically better than him were able to eventually get him to submit, Artesi added.
you’re here you must do Jiu Jitsu for what it’s for,” Artesi said. “Then when you go out and compete, you put it all together and have a more complete package. He took that, started working on the technical aspects of grappling and finding leverage, and how to make his body structure stronger and the other person’s weaker by placement of his body. Because of it he was a world champion.” Brookover’s championship consisted of four victories, all by arm-bar submission. It’s become Brookover’s go-to move thanks to another instructor of his from California, Jiva Santana, who is a black belt. “He’s finished every single one of his MMA matches that he’s won by arm bar,” Brookover said of Santana. “I didn’t go out there trying to do arm bars, but he started telling me to collect arms and it kind of inspired me. I found myself in the final match against an All-American wrestler, I had him mounted, I was on top with my legs over his hips. I was choking him, and I decided to let go of it because I wanted the fourth arm bar.”
View photo by Ray Thomas
KELLEND BROOKOVER of Buckeye trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Brookover recently earned a blue belt for winning the Ultra Heavy Division of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships recently in Long Beach, Calif.
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was not scored upon. In fact, he won the Pan- American Games in Irvine, Calif., the week before that, winning four matches there without being scored upon either. “He’s pretty relaxed, he listens good, listens to what you ask him to do,” Santana said. “He did really well [at the world championships]. One of the fights was surprising because the guy was a really big guy. He ended up getting a submission. He kind of worked against his strategy but he’s so confident, he was able to pull out all submissions.”
Hiatus from wrestling Brookover’s motivation to try Jiu Jitsu came after a three-year hiatus from sports. He was a football player and wrestler at Buckeye, winning a state title in 2008, but when he graduated he was ready for a break.
“Right after wrestling was over, I was so burned out, especially from football,” Brookover said. Brookover had some scholarship offers but turned them down because they were obscure places in Kentucky, he said. Instead, he decided to dabble in
(See Grad on Page 15) Throughout the world championships, Brookover “I told him, wrestling is similar to Jiu Jitsu, but when
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