Posts tagged: Heel Hook

Inside The Guard, A Versatile Position

Usually the starting point of grappling action in MMA matches, the guard is often overlooked by fans and even fighters, but a fighter using proper technique can prove the position dangerous.

Ortiz inside the butterfly guard of Griffin

The goal of the top fighter in the guard is to utilize ground-and-pound striking while aiming to improve their position. The top fighter also has the option of opening the guard and going for submission attempts.

The goal of the bottom fighter in the guard is most commonly to attempt various submissions off of their back or to escape using sweep techniques to return the fight to their feet. However, there are a few effective strikes from the bottom as well.

There are two basic forms of the guard: the closed guard and the open guard. In the closed guard the bottom fighter has their legs wrapped around the top fighter’s back, as well as their arms in cases. The aim of the closed guard is for the bottom fighter to keep the top fighter’s body as close to theirs as possible, limiting range in order to prevent devastating strikes and set up submission attempts.

In the open guard the bottom fighter uses his legs to control the opponent with the goal being to keep the opponent further away rather than close, because the bottom fighter becomes more vulnerable to strikes. The open guard can be used by the bottom fighter to set up submissions, but is most commonly used to create a sweep in order to return the fight to the feet or transition to the top position.

Alan Belcher trapped in Jason Day's rubber guard at UFC 83. Day lands 10 elbow strikes and 17 unanswered punches

There are various forms of the open guard such as the butterfly guard, the rubber guard, the x-guard, the spider guard, De la Riva guard and 50-50 guard. Arguably the most common in MMA are the butterfly and rubber guard.

The butterfly guard is a position in which the bottom fighter’s legs are hooked with their ankles inside the top fighter’s thighs. This allows for good control of the top fighter’s movements and distancing and allows for effective sweeps.

The rubber guard, created by Eddie Bravo, is gaining popularity and becoming more common in the MMA world. The bottom fighter uses a leg to trap the top opponent in their guard, opening up possibilities for submissions, sweeps and even effective striking from the bottom. Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki has developed one of the most effective rubber guards in MMA along with UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn.

The main goal of the top fighter in the guard is to advance his position. However, striking can be effective. Tito Ortiz is among one of the most effective strikers from the guard in MMA, in great part due to his devastating elbows. Elbows, hammer fists, closed fist strikes, and even Royce Gracie style palm strikes can cause damage from the guard.

Mousasi KO's Jacare via up-kick

Fighters inside an opponents open guard also have the option of standing in the guard to attempt various leg locks, such as knee bars, heel hooks and achilles locks. However, this can make them vulnerable to commonly the most devastating strike from the bottom guard.

Up-kicks have proven to be extremely effective in MMA and are a good tool for fighters on their back. Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi knocked out Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in dramatic fashion with a single upkick in the final round of the Dream middleweight grand prix at Dream 6 on September 23, 2008.

The bottom fighter has a clear advantage in the submission game from the guard. The most common submissions pulled off from guard are the guillotine, arm bar, triangle choke and kimura. Other popular submissions are the omoplata and gogoplata, but these techniques are most often used as a sweep to simply transition to the top or a standing position. However, they can be very effective when used from the rubber guard.

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The top fighter must aim to improve his position above all else while in the guard. A ground-and-pound fighter must move out of harms way against a submission specialist rather than being contempt to strike from the guard. Mark Coleman learned this lesson not once, but twice when he was submitted from within WAMMA and former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko‘s guard during Pride FC competition in 2004 and then again in 2006.

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Styles Make Fights – UFC 99: Davis vs. Hardy (Striker vs. Striker)

In a fight billed and hyped as a “grudge match”, Dan Hardy landed the biggest shots en route to outpointing Marcus Davis at at UFC 99: The Comeback.

It was a fight between two notable strikers, but Davis decided to change up his gameplan by taking down Hardy and ground-and-pounding through most of the opening round. However, Hardy stood up at the end and delivered a huge standing elbow followed up by punches, dazing Davis as the round ended.

Hardy wins a split decision

Hardy wins a split decision

On the advice of his corner, Davis tried to turn up the leg kicks in the second round, but Hardy’s counterstriking opened Davis up to eat a big knee which floored Davis. Davis, however, is known for being able to take big shots and almost caught Hardy in an armbar from guard. In round three, Davis again took Hardy down and almost scored a heel hook, but Hardy scored a takedown of his own and cut Davis open with an elbow strike. In a close bout, Hardy scored a split decision to pick up the win.

On paper, it was a good game plan for Davis to try and exploit Hardy’s ground game instead of just slugging with him, but Hardy was equal to the task and showed his power at every opportunity. On this occasion, Davis was simply out-muscled and out-lasted by the young Briton.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 8 – Dent vs. Lawson, Pierce drops out

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

 

The final first-round matchup at lightweight pitted Team USA’s UFC vet Jason Dent against Team UK’s Jeff Lawson. In one of the strangest fights of the season, Dent prevailed via an anaconda choke in round two. With the first round of lightweight fights complete, Team UK still holds a 4-3 lead overall.
In other noteworthy news, Jason Pierce’s negativity was finally killed off by Dana White, who declared Pierce unfit to fight after Pierce failed to convince White that he was physically or mentally prepared to fight. A staph infection, coupled with Pierce’s seeming lack of will to tough out the circumstances, led White to pull the plug on Pierce, mercifully ending his sad-sack moping and any chance that Pierce would be labeled “The Ultimate Fighter”.
In this week’s fight, Lawson convincingly won the opening round, despite frequently dropping his hands in favor of trying high-impact strikes and slams. Dent never tried to capitalize, however, and Lawson turned a sloppy clinch into a sutemi waza-like takedown and kept top position for the rest of the round.

 

Lawson gassed badly in the second round however, making no effort to hold up his hands and lacking any kind of power in his strikes. Dent inexplicably failed to press, instead keeping up his methodical pacing and an occasional leg kick. Despite having no energy (a case of bronchitis earlier in the show was offered as an explanation by Michael Bisping), Lawson almost turned a leg-scissors into a heel hook before lunging into the arms of Dent, who gator-rolled Lawson and applied an anaconda choke for the win.

 

Needless to say, the sight of Lawson bent over gasping for air in the second round while Dent just stood there slowly circling made for a poor-quality TUF viewing experience. With Dent basically labeled borderline-uncoachable by Dan Henderson, one can see why Dent didn’t stick in the UFC during his two-fight tenure with the company in 2006-07.

Spike TV’s teaser of the next show promised a firecracker of a show, as Team USA selects another welterweight to fight David Faulkner, Demarques Johnson flips out on Bisping, and the Faulkner vs. ????? fight is revealed to go into a sudden-victory roundInflatable Arch.

TUF Top 3

The final four lightweights have been decided, but after two unconvincing performances, Jason Dent fails to break into the top three LWs.

Lightweight

  1. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: 1)
    The illegal knee to Ritchie Whitson will surely be up for much debate among TUF fans, but Pearson was already winning the stand-up exchange even before the knee. Pearson picked up right where he left off in the prelims, outslugging and overpowering his opponent while roaring back to the top of the lightweight heap.
  2. Andre Winner – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
    Winner, an early favorite coming into the show, was shaky in his prelim fight but turned up the heat against Santino DeFranco, beating the American in the stand-up game before finishing on the ground. Winner’s combination of strength and length will provide a matchup nightmare against whichever lightweight stands in his way next.
  3. Cameron Dollar – Team USA (Previous rank: 3)
    For all of the trash talk, antagonizing his own teammates, and then pre-fight crisis of confidence, Dollar still managed to put on a solid ground showing versus Martin Stapleton. Despite Jason Dent’s lack of aggression, Dollar is still probably the matchup both Winner and Pearson would favor.

Welterweight

  1. Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: 1)
    Johnson solidified his status as the welterweight to beat so far with his quick submission of Dean Amasinger. While Amasinger wasn’t one of the top welterweights, Johnson’s finish was still convincing enough for him to keep the top spot.
  2. James Wilks – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
    Wilks, who submitted the notable Che Mills in his prelim fight, handled Team USA’s Frank Lester in brutal fashion, showing a hard Thai clinch and knees before finishing things up on the ground. While Lester wasn’t exactly the most seasoned welterweight on the show, Wilks proved that he is no slouch on his feet in addition to being a definite danger on the ground.
  3. Nick Osipczak – Team UK (Previous rank: 3)
    The first winner on the main show didn’t look overly impressive in doing so, but he showed a good chin in dealing with Mark Miller’s punches in the first round. Osipczak so far has not shown much technique, and instead seems to be coasting on his physical talents alone.

Quote of the Show:
“Physically I’m nothing to look at…I’m a ginger, for god’s sake.”

- Jeff Lawson on why some fighters might underestimate him.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 5 – Winner vs. DeFranco, Amasinger vs. Johnson

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

In an episode featuring two fights, Team UK and “Team” USA split the fights one apiece, leaving Team UK still holding the overall lead at 2-1.

In the inaugural lightweight fight, Team UK’s Andre Winner defeated Team USA’s Santino DeFranco via G’n’P in round one. The second fight of the night saw Demarques Johnson finally put Team USA on the board with a first round submission of Dean Amasinger. Both winners looked very impressive in victory, and both coaches saw the fights that they picked come out in their favor.

Winner showed sharp stand-up and great upper-body strength, his fast hands neutralized DeFranco’s reach advantage. His striking kept DeFranco from finding his range, and when DeFranco tried to shoot in, Winner not only stuffed the takedowns, but throttled DeFranco to the mat in the process. In the end, Winner stopped a DeFranco takedown attempt, dragged his opponent to the cage wall, and pounded him out until the stoppage.

The fight between Johnson and Amasinger was also quickly ended by Johnson, who submitted Amasinger with a triangle choke, despite the UK fighter’s best efforts to slam out of the submission. Astute viewers probably saw Johnson’s triangle coming from a mile away, and even though Michael Bisping had previously warned Amasinger to beward of the triangle, to no avail. In any case, Johnson won quickly and provided the USA with its first win, while Amasinger stayed classy in defeat, despite the strange circumstances (see notes).

Again, two fights are slated to air on next week’s episode, and this time I will not foolishly try to speculate which fighters will be picked.

TUF Top 3

Which of the fighters are the front-runners to winning it all? As more and more fights occurs, the cream slowly rises to the top…

Lightweight

  1. Richie Whitson – Team USA (Previous rank: 1)
    The red-haired Alaskan, already nicknamed “Carrot Top” by internet fans, defeated Paul Bird via first round submission to earn the right to represent the USA. The Team Quest prospect showed good takedown defense and quick hands in his victory, making him the top standout so far from 155.
  2. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
    Pearson looked quick and spry in his slugfest victory over AJ Wenn, battering Wenn with knees and punches until picking up a 2nd round TKO. On this week’s episode, Pearson was showing taking exception to Team USA members drawing on his wrestling shoes.
  3. Andre Winner – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a)
    Winner, an early favorite coming into the show, was shaky in his prelim fight but turned up the heat against Santino DeFranco, beating the American in the stand-up game before finishing on the ground. Winner’s combination of strength and length will provide a matchup nightmare against whichever lightweight stands in his way next.

Dropped out: Jason Dent – Team USA

Welterweight

  1. Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: 1)
    Johnson solidified his status as the welterweight to beat so far with his quick submission of Dean Amasinger. While Dean wasn’t one of the top welterweights, Johnson’s finish was still convincing enough for him to keep the top spot.
  2. David Faulkner – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
    When your own coach says that you’re “mentally weak”, it’s a red flag on your credentials that’s hard to ignore. Faulkner quickly finished James Bateman with a heel hook, but we won’t be able to see what the Wolfslair prospect is really made of until he’s put into some kind of peril inside the cage.
  3. Nick Osipczak – Team UK (Previous rank: 3)
    The first winner on the main show didn’t look overly impressive in doing so, but he showed a good chin in dealing with Mark Miller’s punches in the first round. Osipczak so far has not shown much technique, and instead seems to be coasting on his physical talents alone. Now at least, his KO win should make the other welterweights respect him a little more.

Notes:

  • Michael Bisping was MIA during Dean Amasinger’s fight against Demarques Johnson, a fact which was not lost on either Dan Henderson or Team UK. The tease for next week’s episode advertises Bisping’s explanation for his absence. Whatever Bisping’s reason may be, Henderson stated it best when he said that Amasinger was missing his head coach from his corner in the “biggest fight of his life”. The bottom line is that Bisping’s excuse for being truant better be good.
  • In the non-fighting portion of the show, Team USA members started turning on each other, as lightweight Cameron Dollar started to grow into the role of this season’s resident asshole; picking fights with his teammates while jovially recalling his story of sleeping with his buddy’s wife. Meanwhile, welterweight Jason Pierce’s reluctance to agree to Henderson’s plan for him to fight David Faulkner didn’t do his reputation any favors.
  • Quote of the Show:

    “I’m not trying to go rape or pillage anybody.”

    - Demarques Johnson, on his gameplan against Dean Amasinger.

    The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 4 – Nick Osipczak vs. Mark Miller

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    Advantage, UK. 

    In a fight between two of the less-impressive welterweights on the show, Team UK’s Nick Osipczak defeated Team USA’s Mark Miller via a head kick in round two. The finish was ironic due to the fact that prior to the fight, Team USA Muay Thai coach and Pride FC veteran Cyrille “The Snake” Diabaté had told Miller that Osipczak possessed no knockout power in his legs.  

    In all fairness to Diabaté, Miller’s height disadvantage and sloppy hands left him pretty open to be put to sleep. It was a puzzling matchup choice by USA head coach Dan Henderson; Osipczak had a five-inch reach advantage on Miller, who never had much of a ground game to rely on in case he got out-struck.  

    Overall, it was a sloppy yet exciting fight where both men only sparingly listened to their corners. Osipczak at least showed the capacity to fight in both a “southpaw” (left-handed) stance and a traditional stance, a fact that Team UK head coach Michael Bisping used to his advantage. Neither man showed much takedown defense or head movement during their fight.  

    Two fights are slated to air on next week’s episode; if teaser footage is to be believed, it seems as though Frank Lester will be called on to be one of the fighters competing.  
     

    TUF Top 3 

    Which of the fighters are the front-runners to winning it all? Early days for sure, but it’s never too early to be keeping tabs on the early standouts.  

    Lightweight 

    1. Richie Whitson – Team USA (Previous rank: 1) 
      The red-haired Alaskan, already nicknamed “Carrot Top” by internet fans, defeated Paul Bird via first round submission to earn the right to represent the USA. The Team Quest prospect showed good takedown defense and quick hands in his victory, making him the top standout so far from 155.
    2. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: 2) Pearson looked quick and spry in his slugfest victory over AJ Wenn, battering Wenn with knees and punches until picking up a 2nd round TKO. On this week’s episode, Pearson was showing taking exception to Team USA members drawing on his wrestling shoes. 
    3. Jason Dent – Team USA (Previous rank: 3) Dent’s win over Robert Browning was expected, yet not exactly impressive; faced with an undersized opponent whose best move was the Chuck Liddel-style hand-wave distraction, Dent came off as tentative to engage before stuffing a Browning takedown attempt and then teeing off with punches and knees until he got the TKO. However, Dent is the most experienced fighter on the show, and with two previous UFC fights on his resume, his experience in the big time against big opponents shouldn’t be overlooked.  

    Welterweight 

    1. Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: 1) So far, the lightweights on the show look much more promising than most of the welterweights, but for now Johnson stands out with his quick G’n’P win over Ray Elbe in the prelims. An interesting dynamic on the show is that Johnson is shown to be the only American so far who seems to be actually affected by Bisping’s trash-talk.
    2. David Faulkner – Team UK (Previous rank: 2) When your own coach says that you’re “mentally weak”, it’s a red flag on your credentials that’s hard to ignore. Faulkner quickly finished James Bateman with a heel hook, but we won’t be able to see what the Wolfslair prospect is really made of until he’s put into some kind of peril inside the cage. An interesting note: his only professional MMA loss came against his current Team UK teammate Dean Amasinger via DQ in 2007.
    3. Nick Osipczak – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a) The first winner on the main show didn’t look overly impressive in doing so, but he showed a good chin in dealing with Mark Miller’s punches in the first round. Osipczak so far has not shown much technique, and instead seems to be coasting on his physical talents alone. Now at least, his KO win should make the other welterweights respect him a little more. 

    Dropped out: Frank Lester – Team USA 
     
    Notes: 

    • Besides Diabaté, the other notable coach is Team UK’s BJJ coach Mario “Sukata” Neto, whos 10-5 MMA record includes fights with Gary Goodridge, Dan Severn, Kevin Randleman, and a win over Kimbo-conquerer Seth Petruzelli. 
    • He was only briefly caught on camera, but the man in the black cap and leather jacket sitting next to Dana White during the fight between Osipczak and Miller was Japanese MMA star Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. White has said many times in the past that he hopes to bring Yamamoto stateside, most likely into the WEC and its featherweight division. Kid is scheduled to face Joe Warren at DREAM 9 in May.

    The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 3

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    After the latest episode of TUF, the field of 16 fighters was finally complete, with Jason Dent and Frank Lester claiming the final two spots on Team USA at the expense of Robert Browning and Kiel Reid respectively.

    While most of the episode before the two fights was devoted to watching Robert Browning continue the fine Browning family tradition of acting like an ignorant redneck, viewers also got a brief look-in on the team training. Team USA coach Dan Henderson explains that he will be looking to train his team hard on wrestling; since wrestling isn’t a school sport in the UK, Henderson believes that Team USA will thoroughly outclass Team UK on the ground.

    Team UK coach Michael Bisping, on the other hand, goes straight for the hard sparring, trying to put his fighters through the same routine he would go through if preparing for a fight. 

    Going into next weeks episode, Team USA will have first selection of who fights who.  

    TUF Top 3 

    Which of the fighters are the front-runners to winning it all? Early days for sure, but it’s never too early to be keeping tabs on the early standouts.  

    Lightweight

    1. Richie Whitson – Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    The red-haired Alaskan, already nicknamed “Carrot Top” by internet fans, defeated Paul Bird via first round submission to earn the right to represent the USA. The Team Quest prospect showed good takedown defense and quick hands in his victory, making him the top standout so far from 155.

    1. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a)

    Pearson looked quick and spry in his slugfest victory over AJ Wenn, battering Wenn with knees and punches until picking up a 2nd round TKO. The pre-show buzz from the UK was with fellow lightweight Andre Winner, but Winner’s win was anything but dominant, so for now Pearson edges ahead as Team UK’s cream of the crop.

    1. Jason Dent – Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    Dent’s win over Robert Browning was expected, yet not exactly impressive; faced with an undersized opponent whose best move was the Chuck Liddel-style hand-wave distraction, Dent came off as tentative to engage before stuffing a Browning takedown attempt and then teeing off with punches and knees until he got the TKO. However, Dent is the most experienced fighter on the show, and with two previous UFC fights on his resume, his experience in the big time against big opponents shouldn’t be overlooked. 

    On the bubble: Andre Winner – Team UK 

    Welterweight 

    1. Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    So far, the lightweights on the show look much more promising than most of the welterweights, but for now Johnson stands out with his quick G’n’P win over Ray Elbe in the prelims. Watching Michael Bisping get into his head with relative ease on this week’s episode was an added bonus.

    1. David Faulkner – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a)

    When your own coach says that you’re “mentally weak”, it’s a red flag on your credentials that’s hard to ignore. Faulkner quickly finished James Bateman with a heel hook, but we won’t be able to see what the Wolfslair prospect is really made of until he’s put into some kind of peril inside the cage. An interesting note: his only professional MMA loss came against his current Team UK teammate Dean Amasinger via DQ in 2007.

    1. Frank Lester – Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    Lester, a late replacement to face Kiel Reid for a spot on Team USA, was neither classy in victory nor overly impressive in his fight, but at the very least he was able to shrug off the takedowns of the Militech wrestler Reid. He showed good striking and looks huge for a welterweight, but the Mark Coleman-esque victory means Lester will have much more to prove.

     

    On the bubble: Santino Defranco – Team USA

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