With UFC 100 only days away, I thought it would be a good time to discuss some cool techniques that T.J. Grant busted out against Ryo Chonan at UFC 97.
I'll be back with another Frank Mir Judo Chop before UFC 100, don't you worry, just wanted to talk about T.J. for a minute. His opponent this Saturday, Dong Hyun "Stun Gun" Kim is getting a fair bit of attention so I thought it would be timely to remind everyone that T.J. Grant has some game of his own. He's a BJJ purple belt under Jorge Gurgel and has won 12 of 14 fights by submission.
In his match against the tough veteran Chonan, Grant pulled off not one but two techniques that I thought were Judo Chop worthy. One was a textbook ankle pick he pulled off in the second round. The other was a very interesting variation on a gift wrap he got in the third.
Ankle pick is a pretty broad term that can refer to anything from a single leg takedown that grabs the opponent's ankle to the move that Grant pulled off which involves going for a single leg on one leg, then reaching over and grabbing the opposite ankle to put the opponent on his butt. There are all kinds of other variations too, like these, this, this or this. But they all have one thing in common -- they involve grabbing an ankle and picking it up off the floor to force the opponent to the ground. Its a staple move in wrestling and jiu jitsu and I wouldn't be surprised if Kim has seen lots of ankle picks in his judo experience as well.
The gift wrap is a slightly different matter. Its a jiu jitsu move that's used to set up arm bars in grappling, but in MMA it becomes a beautiful way to score punches against a helpless opponent. The first time I ever saw it was in a Rickson Gracie fight. Carlos Newton won his comeback fight from the gift wrap not long ago. T.J. didn't land the classic gift wrap on Chonan, that involves wrapping the opponent's own arm around his head, instead, Grant stuffed a granby roll attempt by Chonan and trapped one of Chonan's arms and whaled away.
More geeking out in the full entry, with animated gifs.
First lets talk about the ankle pick. Its the second round. Grant has Chonan pressed against the cage and is working for a single leg takedown on Chonan's right leg. Grant's got his left forearm behind Chonan's knee and has his hands locked to pull the leg up into the air. Chonan is putting his weight on his left foot and pushing down on Grant's head. Suddenly Grant reaches over with his right hand and grabs Chonan's left ankle and pulls it toward him. Chonan drops. The move worked because the single leg attempt caused Chonan to shift his weight to his left side. When Grant pulled the ankle out from under him, Chonan's own energy drives him to the ground.
Up next, the third round gift wrap variation. In the gif on the left, Chonan is turtled up on his knees and elbows and T.J. is behind him. T.J. has his left arm around Chonan's waist in what wrestlers call a tight waist. He's using his right arm to batter Ryo about the head with hammer fists. Chonan uses his own left arm to hook T.J.'s left hand and then he rolls over, probably to get guard, possibly to switch his hips out and escape or move into side control. Regardless, he got stuffed by Grant who reacts brilliantly and throws his right leg over Chonan's thighs, getting hip control with his legs. He also turns his left hand and grabs Chonan's forearm.
In the gif on the right, we see how he uses this cleverly improvised position to score with punches to Chonan's barely defended face. Also note how he hooks Chonan's left foot with his own. Unfortunately the position leaves Chonan's right arm free to defend and he's able to grab T.J.'s wrist. But time is running out on the round and T.J. won the decision.
Here's some commentary from Luke Thomas:
Grant is talented.Grant displays some stellar balance, good core strength and great reactions. He shows good presence of mind to balance off of his shoulders and keep good fundamentals by hooking the leg.
He probably drills the positions a lot, so his natural improv makes it look like he worked that position.
Maybe he drilled the move, but since Chonan engaged, I just bet that Grant's really comfortable in that position and a good athlete with sick presence of mind.
I think that's a little of both jiu jitsu and wrestling, but more wrestling. Drilling a lot of transitions from granby rolls over the shoulders -- which guys do to avoid pins and it becomes instinct. The leg wrap is jiu jitsu. All in all, nice grappling from Grant.
Gifs by Chris Nelson