Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: Terry Etim's Slick Set-up for the Brabo Choke


UFC 99 has come and gone, but there was one notable submission that's worth paying a little more attention to, namely, the brabo choke (a clean and simple demonstration of which can be found here) Terry Etim used on Justin Buchholz. Before we get into the details of Etim's excellent finish, let me address the "brabo vs. D'Arce" choke situation. Folks often ask me what the difference is between a brabo and a D'Arce choke. In short: nothing. They are essentially the same choke, but each time a grappler creates his own set-ups (and it should be noted the brabo choke has a huge variety of set-ups that grapplers and fighters use) the choke can often get a new name. The D'Arce got it's name from Joe D'Arce (and it's properly pronounced Dee-arr-see), who showed his set-up and entry attacks to others (like Marc Laimon) who then began using D'Arce's last name to identify the choke to others. From there the rest is history. I've heard others say the D'Arce choke is different in that you don't use the figure four bicep grip to finish, instead opting for a gable grip that cranks the opposition's spine, but the reality is in the grappling world there isn't any consensus about it.

With that out of the way, on to Etim.

What's really fun about this brabo choke is that there isn't anything fancy about it. Etim didn't use some wild knee on belly set-up or some estoric grappling positioning to open Justin Buchholz up. Rather, he used a very fluid (and clearly rehearsed) transition ability to sink the choke before Buchholz knew what hit him.

For starters, by the time the choke was cinched Buchholz had already been badly hurt by Etim, although Etim had suffered a severe beating in the first round by Buchholz. This is only to say that Etim's choke was excellent, but was aided by an opponent who had been beaten to the point where he was a little softer for the choke.

Complete breakdown plus animated gifs in the full entry.


You'll notice the two fighters are standing clinched with Buchholz's back against the cage. Etim has both forearms pressed against Buchholz's clavicles and is using the Thai plum to score knees to the body and head. You'll also notice Buchholz is trying to use a clinch re-pummel technique, but doesn't finish it so his left arm is acting like a separator rather than his right arm snaking through the open space to establish his own clinch. Now Etim is pulling down on Buchholz's neck and head where he throws a left knee to the jaw of Buchholz. Buchholz grabs the left leg of Etim and tries both dump Etim over his right side or run the pipe (he does neither). Instead, Etim manages to sprawl his legs and hips out.
Now here's where it gets interesting. As he sprawls, you'll notice Etim gets both of his hands and arms directly behind Buchholz's armpits. This is a good way to not only control your opposition's upper body, but to keep them confused. Remember, you need one arm and the head for the brabo choke, so by starting out with both arms behind the armpits, Buchholz (already hurt and confused) technically doesn't know which side the choke is coming from. Realizing his window to make the choke work is very narrow, Etim quickly shoots right arm under Buchholz's left arm pit while he brings his own left hand out from behind Buchholz's right arm pit to connect the figure four (Etim's right hand to his own left bicep). Etim then rotates his lower body over counter clockwise just a few degrees as he'll need this perpendicular angle to drive Buchholz's onto his hip.

Brabo_mediumBuchholz is officially in deep trouble at this point. To finish the choke (and putting pressure on the back of Buchholz's head with Etim's right hand and left elbow is critical to making this work as it shortens the angle and allows for a tighter squeeze), Etim forces Buchholz to his right hip and sits his hips down while walking his lower body out. He ultimately adds the final pinch by leaning to left side. This not only cuts off both sides of Buchholz's throat (with Etim's right arm and Buchholz's own arm), but it adds a really nice and exceptionally uncomfortable crank to the whole endeavor. You see Buchholz try to escape by rolling belly down (he doesn't want to be laying stationary on his right hip), but Etim forces Buchholz back onto his side to get the maximum squeeze. Honestly, going belly down or back down won't really help you as the brabo choke is exceedingly hard to escape from and can be adapted based on how opposition are moving to escape, but in MMA when fighters are hurt and tired any kind of resistance or flailing can be the difference between getting the choke and getting nothing at all.

I like Etim's choke here not because it's a tremendous display of world-class jiu-jitsu, but because it's a suitable example of how a modern fighter can seamlessly use the different fighting disciplines in one smooth effort to great effect. Etim goes from using a muay Thai clinch to a wrestling sprawl to a brabo choke all in the span of seconds. That's modern MMA for you and it's a ton of fun to watch.

UFC 99: The Comeback coverage

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