As we build up to UFC 100, I've been running through the submissions UFC interim heavyweight champ Frank Mir is known for. We've covered his kneebar against Brock Lesnar, the Mir Lock, and the Footlock he busted out against Tank Abbott.
That's pretty much his greatest hits, right? I mean, sure, it was impressive when he armbarred BJJ black belt Roberto Traven, but that fight was in the "Dark Ages" and no one really talks about it as much as it merits. Oh wait, there is one more submission win Frank Mir has notched in the UFC that does get a little bit of attention.
Yeah, that's right, people still talk about Frank snapping Tim Sylvia's arm on live PPV at UFC 48. How could I forget? I also realize that I've never done a Judo Chop about the humble arm bar. Possibly the most high percentage submission in the game (after the rear naked choke), the arm bar gets taken for granted by nerds like myself.
According to our own Leland Roling's analysis of the FightFinder database, 5305 out of 62,600 fights ended via armbar or 8.47% of all fights and 5588 out of 62,600 ended via Rear Naked Choke or 8.93% of all fights.
But when we saw it for the first time at UFC 2, when Royce Gracie tapped out Jason DeLucia with it and the announcer was saying "Yup, he popped the capsule. Royce definitely broke his arm." It was pretty mind blowing stuff. The common-place status of the arm bar in today's MMA is testament to the ubiquituousness of jiu jitsu in the sport.
Here's Frank talking about that fight to BodyBuilding magazine:
Tim's was an interesting break since I snapped his forearm in half. You have to give him credit though. Even with his arm snapped in two he was still trying to pick me up with the same arm. He wanted to continue to fight me one handed.
It was an odd experience. The crowd didn't totally get that I had busted his arm in half and so they were surprised by the stoppage.
The funny part about that arm bar is that Sylvia didn't realize his arm had been broken either. That says a lot about Sylvia's pain tolerance and the power of adrenaline. But there's another factor that often gets over-looked: Sylvia had done what you need to do to escape from most arm bars. He had pulled his arm back enough to get the elbow out from between Mir's legs. The elbow is the normal pivot point that is attacked by the arm bar, not the middle of the forearm in this instance.
Mir has commented in interviews that it was his protective cup operating as a fulcrum (along with his considerable power) that snapped Sylvia's forearm. Normally, the hip acts as the fulcrum against the pivot point of the elbow. The combination of Mir's power, Sylvia's extremely long arms and the hard shell protective cup over Mir's manly goods was a bad one for Big Tim.
More about the arm bar and some animated gif action in the full entry.
Photo by Arnold Lim via MMA Ring Report.
Wikipedia has a nice entry on the armlock, and its most common manifestation, the arm bar (or juji-gatame):
An armbar (sometimes called a straight armbar) is a joint lock that hyperextends the elbow joint. It is typically applied by placing the opponent's extended arm at the elbow over a fulcrum such as an arm, leg or hip, and controlling the opponent's body while leveraging the arm over the fulcrum. It is used in various grappling martial arts, including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Catch wrestling, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and is one of the most common ways to win a match in mixed martial arts competition. The technique has several variations, with the best known and most effective in competition being the juji-gatame. The juji-gatame is so common, that "armbar" is often used synonymously with juji-gatame.
The English word "bar" is used here to signify the opponent's extended arm, while the Japanese word "juji" (十字) refers to the armbar's visual resemblance to the number 10 as written in Kanji, 十. The word juji is also found in "juujika" (十字架), meaning a cross.
The juji-gatame is derived from judo.(十字固, "cross armlock" or technically referred to as ude-hishigi-juji-gatame. In general, the attacker grabs the wrist of the targeted arm of the opponent, holding and securing it by squeezing it between the thighs of the attacker. The attacker's legs end up across the opponent's chest, with the arm held between the thighs, with the elbow pointing against the thigh or hips. By holding the opponent's wrist to the attacker's chest, the attacker can extend the opponent's arm and hyperextend the opponent's elbow. The attacker can further increase the pressure on the elbow joint by arching his or their hips against the elbow. This is extremely effective, especially against unknowledgeable opponents.
Here's WikiHow outlining the arm-bar, step by step:
1. Get your opponent in a closed guard position. In this picture, the person in the white gi has the person in the red gi in his closed guard.
2.Secure your opponent's right sleeve with your left hand. Cross grab his right elbow with your right hand. As you secure the arm, lift your hips off the floor to create more pulling force.
3.Pull his arm over and crunch his legs and chest in.
4.Open both legs at the same time and throw them up in a reverse crunch manner.
5. Immediately close your legs and lock your opponent's shoulder up to keep him from escaping.
6. Squeeze both your knees to the left and block your opponent's face with his hand so he can't defend.
7. Place your left leg over your opponent's face and extend your hips up while controlling the arm for the arm bar
Here's BJJ guru Pedro Sauer demo'ing the basic armbar:
Gif via www.bramaleainsurgent.com