Photo via UFC.com
Chris Lytle is getting some acclaim today for being the "most exciting fighter in UFC history" based on his holding the record for Fight Night awards from the promotion: 4 Fight of the Night bonuses, 2 Submission of the Night bonuses, 1 Knockout of the Night bonus. He won his second Sub of the Night bonus at UFC 110 for his knee bar win over Brian Foster.
It was a thing of beauty too. After Foster outpointed him standing in the first 90 seconds and added a body slam for good measure, Lytle made the most of the second standing clinch of the fight by rolling into a knee bar when Foster went for back control standing.
Foster showed a lot of promise in the fight, outstriking Lytle on the feet, throwing crisp punches and many nice kicks. His wrestling was also top notch. He just needs to work on his submission defense a bit more. Should be a good learning experience for the young fighter. For Lytle it's another bonus.
Here's a definition of the knee bar from Wikipedia:
A kneebar (technically known as a straight legbar) is a leglock which hyperextends the knee. The basic kneebar is performed similarly to an armbar by holding the opponent's leg in between the legs and arms so the opponent's kneecappoints towards the body. By pushing the hips forward, the opponent's leg is straightened, and further leveraging hyperextends the knee. A variation of the kneebar is done similarly, but instead of holding the leg with the hands, the opponent's foot is pushed behind one armpit. By pushing the shoulder backwards and pushing the hips forward, a greater amount of force is applied to the knee, and the lock becomes much more difficult to escape.
Let's look at a gif, some expert opinion from Grapplearts and a training video in the full entry.
Gif by Smoogy.
On the right we see the whole move in one long gif. The fighters start out with Foster trying to get back control over a standing Lytle. He has both of arms wrapped around Lytle's waist and his hands are locked together. Lytle is initially using a whizzer to counter -- ie his left arm is hooked under Foster's right armpit. This is a standard wrestling position and it creates a lot of opportunities in MMA for the one getting back control, but it also leaves you vulnerable to some attacks that you don't have to worry about in amateur wrestling, like the rolling knee bar.
Note how Lytle's left leg is between Foster's two legs. This is the positioning that creates the opportunity for Lytle's attack. Lytle first gives up the whizzer and in one motion swings his left arm out from under Foster's armpit and down between his legs to grab the back of Foster's right leg. Then he rolls forward, pulling Foster down with him.
Stephan Kesting from Grapplearts has a really nice column on fixing common knee bar mistakes:
To be in the correct body position for the kneebar, your body should be positioned with a 90 degree bend in the knees and a 90 degree bend in the hips. This is your ‘power position': from here you have much more ability to arch backwards while applying the kneebar, as well as being able to use the power of your hips. This is basically the same position you would need to be in if you wanted to bridge off a mounted opponent. In this position you will be able to bring the full force of your body to bear against his knee joint.
Note that Lytle gets a really nice 90 degree angle with his thighs as illustrated in this pic of Kesting on the left.
More from Kesting:
Foot and leg control is required to prevent your opponent's leg from rotating or escaping into a safe position. In order to attack a limb you usually need to control it first. Too often one sees a kneebar attack where the defender manages to escape the lock due to insufficient foot and leg control.
The two most basic ways to position your legs are: 1) with your ankles crossed on his butt, and 2) with your legs triangled to the outside of his leg. Pinching the legs together as hard as you can is very important: this limits his movement and makes the lock come on faster.
Note that Lytle uses the crossed ankles method of leg positioning. I'd be interested in hearing from some grapplers as to how Foster almost escaped and what mistakes he made that allowed Lytle to lock in the knee bar.
More from Kesting:
Your arms should hold his foot close to your body. If you are holding his leg at arms length from you then you don't have as much control over his foot. Furthermore you will be using more arm power instead of legs and back power to apply pressure. Generally speaking, you should hug his leg to your chest when applying the kneebar, but placing his leg under your armpit is also a good control position.
Lytle definitely got that part right. Foster's foot is a little low down on his chest rather than being up high like an ideal knee bar. That, I think has to do with the difficulty Foster gave Lytle in securing the hold.
Below is a video from Danny Ives a BJJ coach Luke Thomas calls the "best BJJ coach" I've ever had: