Photo by Tracy Lee for Yahoo! Sports.
Going into UFC 124's Mark Bocek vs Dustin Hazelett bout fans were split. Casual fans who remembered his submission wins over Josh Burkman and Tamdan McCrory. The armbar on Burkman won the Bloody Elbow Submission of the Year award for 2008. Hazelett is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Jorge Gurgel.
Mark Bocek is one of Canada's first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belts and has been studying the art for more than a decade. He first studied under Rickson and Renzo Gracie and then moved on to Nova Uniao where he received his Black Belt through Joao Roque.
What we got was indeed a grappling battle but it was utterly one sided and Bocek looked very good in making Hazelett look pretty bad. He took home Submission of the Night honors for his troubles (split with Jim Miller).
In the end it was Hazelett's tendency to use flashy techniques like the rubber guard against Bocek's conservative but technically flawless approach.
Here's Steve Cofield describing the action:
Bocek smoked Hazelett, a fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, as he pulled off a beautiful triangle choke at 2:33 of the first round in Montreal.
The usually reserved Bocek (9-3, 5-3 UFC) was boisterous after the win, calling out fellow jiu-jitsu master George Sotiropoulos. Bocek, a Canadian wants to face Sotiropoulos in Toronto at the end of April.
"I've been quiet for a long time. I have the best jiu-jitsu in the lightweight division," Bocek told UFC analyst Joe Rogan. "I'll prove it to everybody."
In the full entry we'll look at some gifs and Patrick Tenney, aka BE reader Above This Fire, as well as Eddie Bravo's diagnosis of where Hazelett could have made better use of the rubber guard.
Take it away Patrick.
We start here with Bocek working a high single, Dustin using an overhook on the arm trapping his leg (possibly with full intention on getting taken down with the overhook already in place and that arm subsequently trapped when he gets guard).
Bocek finishes the single leg with an inside leg reap to unbalance Dustin enough while he pushes in so he can get the taken down, the nicest part of what Bocek does here is turning the corner so he can keep Dustin away from the cage and unable to wall walk back to his feet or escape; something else to think about in this situation is that it's Bocek's gameplan to keep the ground fight away from the cage so that he can pass guard and work his top game instead of "Fitching" his opponent (i.e. grinding them out with strikes from within the guard against the cage, p.s. I think Fitch is a terrific fighter and an exciting technical wrestler so don't yell at me).
By not fighting up against the cage Bocek is going to have room to work an offensive top game as far as positioning, something that tends to be difficult when the cage blocks a lot of forward progression and passing (the guy on bottom only has to defend 180 degrees when up against the cage and using guard, without the cage a lot more passing and movement is opened up).
If you're interested in how Dustin's high guard failed in this situation you can watch the breakdown provided by Eddie Bravo in the video below.
Alternatively I'll explain the failure as thus: Dustin's working an omoplata setup off of the overhook he maintained/established before and after the takedown trapping Bocek's right arm however Bocek is maintaining a good angle on his arm so he wont get shucked to the side and put in an omoplata situation (I believe he's cupping Dustin's left shoulder or hooking his arm under Dustin's back). Dustin couldn't get his right leg out and establish a legitimate full guard in the position he landed in during the takedown and instead of using it as a butterfly hook (hooking the inside left thigh of Bocek or behind the knee) he gets his knee stuffed through while Bocek staightens out and walks over the right leg and right through the guard.
I think the sad thing is that a little bit of very simple Jiu Jitsu could have rescued Dustin from this pass, instead of still working on the "kung fu move" and trying to get an omoplata or arm/shoulder lock that wasn't there anymore he could have dropped his left leg, turned onto his right hip, shot for a deep half or half guard and possibly saved himself from what we'll see ends up being his downfall shortly.
Side note: Generally a bad idea to try to really force positions by pulling on your limbs in a way they aren't meant to go; See: Lullo's fight in the UFC recently where he just pulled that flexibile high guard so much (and without the dexterity to naturally attain the position) that blood collected in his knee, weighting his leg and making each leg kick delivered to him so much worse and in the end that's what caused his defeat.
This highlights what I thought was slick and tricky passing from Bocek, Dustin's gained half guard after some quick efforts following Bocek's initial pass and he's using his right arm over Bocek's head to try and keep Bocek's posture down while he extends the halfguard to open up Bocek's legs and shoot his left arm under Bocek's right leg (to either escape or sweep, if he could have swung under Bocek and onto his right hip). The big problem here is that when you use that setup to swing under into a deep half or backdoor escape you have to make sure that the opponent is not controlling the turn of your upper body and unfortunately for Dustin, Bocek is. You can see Bocek's left arm deeply underhooking Dustin's right side as Dustin helps seal his own fate by maintaining that headcontrol position on Bocek which is going to make it near impossible for him to really utilize his half guard to escape (Dustin should have been fighting Bocek for an underhook and not just accepting Bocek's control on that side).
Bocek brings his right instep into the half guard bringing his knee close enough for Dustin to hook under with the left arm, big mistake as Bocek clears the half guard into mount while Dustin still has Bocek's right leg underhooked...
Side note: The basis of a triangle is the idea that your opponent has one arm and shoulder as well as their head within your legs, whether it be guard or any other position; it's that positioning that should always set off alarms inside the head of anyone who grapples.
Bocek passes right into mount over top of that arm while keeping his underhook control on the other arm so he can make sure it stays positioned correctly for the following:
Bocek shoots his right leg high and under Dustins head (making sure the arm stays cleared and also pulling the back of the head up so he can swing his leg underneath). Bocek's left knee/quad shoots forwards as well to keep Dustin's right arm trapped within the triangle setup when Bocek has to use both hands to bring Dustin's head up off the mat.
Bocek rolls over his right side while locking the figure four with his legs and pulling down on the head to finish the triangle (it's notoriously difficult to start and finish a triangle from mount on a good opponent because of the problems locking the figure four gives you when your opponent is on his back because you have to lean over in order to lock your legs which 9 out of 10 times is going to make you roll to your back as your opponent starts working defense/escapes).
Dustin survives in the triangle for a short while by trying to keep and maintain space between his neck and right shoulder (by "answering the telephone" with his hand) but with a fully locked in triangle as well as head control and posture control (note the underhook Bocek shoots in on Dustin's left arm in order to prevent correct posture within the triangle) it's just a matter of time...
Lesson learned: It's great if you can work an offensive high guard, but if you don't have something you aren't going to be able to force it on a guy who knows what you're going for; you have to utilize the basic flow of Jiu Jitsu first so you can get correct position before executing.
Here's the Gracie Breakdown talking about this move (Bocek section starts at 5:30):