If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, did it really happen? If a great fight happens and no one sees it, did it really happen?
That's the dilemma facing former UFC star Roger Huerta as he fights for the much lower profile Bellator promotion. His first fight last Thursday against Chat Hinton was supposed to air live on the Fox Sports Network, and it did it some areas. Sadly, my FSN channel chose to air a hockey game instead and when it did finally schedule the fights for 11pm, it didn't actually start showing them until 12:30 or so and started with the decision in the Joe Warren fight.
And then during the Huerta fight they took a long commercial break and cut off the entire third round of action. Pretty frustrating for a fight fan. Fortunately Bellator has an enlightened policy about using the internet to raise awareness of their fights and fighters so it's easy to see the fights online. And I'm glad I did because Roger Huerta pulled off a pretty nifty move to win the fight.
Here's how Mike Chiappetta described the move:
The end came at 56 seconds of the round after a spectacular, athletic move by Huerta. Hinton had Huerta's back in a standing position. Huerta did a forward roll, taking Hinton with him, and he ended up on top of Hinton's chest. Huerta grabbed Hinton's free leg and applied a kneebar for the finish.
"The leg was there," said Huerta, who improved to 21-3-1. "I was trying to finish by TKO, ground and pound. I had to take the leg. This guy wasn't going to give up. He's really tough."
Like most of Huerta's fights it is notable not so much for the formal polish of his technique, but rather the incredible athleticism and improvisation that went into it.
Gifs by Chris Nelson.
On the right we see the roll. First up, it's important to note that Huerta is NOT doing a variation on the judo/sambo rolling knee bar. I talked about that move in an earlier Judo Chop when Chris Lytle did it at UFC 110. This is very different. Where Lytle dove for his opponent's ankle and isolated that leg between both of his legs, Huerta grabs both of Hinton's wrists, steps forward, rolls and then uses his left foot to push off Hinton's hips and drive Hinton all the way over onto his back.
I'd love to know if this is something that Huerta has worked on or if it's just something he improvised on the spot. Either way, it's a very effective escape from an opponent who has his wrists locked around your waist.
On the left we see the genesis of the knee bar. It's only eight seconds after the last gif and Hinton has already rolled over and is driving for a single leg take down with his left arm wrapped behind Huerta's right knee. That's when Huerta grabs Hinton's left leg with both arms, reaching through Hinton's crotch with the left and behind the knee with the right.
I've written about the switch before, it's a classic wrestling move. Huerta is using more brute strength than leverage here to flip Hinton onto his side and from there onto his back. Incredible performance from Huerta.
On the right we see the finale. Note the time -- almost 15 seconds have passed. Huerta spent almost all of that interval looking for Hinton's leg while he rained down shots. He kept his left arm hooked around Hinton's calf the whole time. He was really set on getting that knee bar. Here we see him lean back to fire a hammerfist to Hinton's skull and then dropping his right hand to the mat to post up as he steps his left leg forward to isolate Hinton's leg between his legs. From there it's pretty much a formality to get the tap.
If you want to review the basics of the knee bar, read my earlier Judo Chop from UFC 110.
Fundamentally, the moves Huerta pulled off in this fight are not things that can be taught. They hinge on the very rare combination of power and agility that Huerta brings into the cage. Regardless, it's a treat to watch and well worth studying closely.
Here's the fight: