We've covered rounds one (Deep Half Guard Sweeps) and two (The Turkish Ride) of UFC 114's Antonio Rogerio "Lil Nog" Nogueira-Jason Brilz bout. It was a very under-appreciated fight, one with a great deal of entertainment value and much technique to study. Today we'll look at the third and final round.
This is the round where Antonio Rogerio "Little Nog" Nogueira made his strongest case for winning the fight. He utterly outstruck Brilz, stuffed five take down attempts, swept him twice and achieved one of the most dominant, and rarely seen positions in MMA: the back crucifix.
Here's Grapplearts' Matt Kirtley describing the move:
The traditional crucifix is a position where you are laying behind your opponent, trapping one of his arms between your legs and the other with your arm. In judo, the choke from this position is called jigoku jime, which means "hell strangle".
It is commonly gotten off a bad single leg (as we do here) and fireman's carry or as a counter to the turtle.
Gary Goodridge catch Paul Herrera in this in UFC 8. If you saw it, you've probably never forgotten just how devastating it was.
Note that this position shouldn't be confused with the crucifix neck crank (which we've Judo Chopped here and here) nor should it be confused with the top mounted crucifix or "Salaverry" which we've seen used to great effect by Roy Nelson, Matt Hughes and Chris Lytle -- as well as Jon Jones who got the Judo Chop treatment.
Gifs by Chris Nelson.
Here we go, take it away K.J. and Dan:
K.J. Gould: It's worth noting by round 3 fighters will have fatigued and can end up getting sloppy as their concentration begins to lapse because of tiredness, so allowances should be made when critiquing the later rounds.
Brilz tries to get some short shots on Nog with his shoulder, but again he's too parallel with Nog and his centre of gravity is high enough to allow Nog to sweep. Brilz is trying to keep his weight on Nog's head with his shoulder but it would have been better to get his weight via his chest on Nog's right shoulder. It may feel counter intuitive at first but putting your weight on the far shoulder when on top in half-guard and learning to ride is beneficial even for BJJ guys as it makes their legs ‘lighter' and easier to slip out and pass the guard. It also makes it significantly more difficult for the guy on bottom to turn into you.
Dan Pedersen: This a really simple but essential escape from side control. I don't know how common it is, or how traditional it is, but I've seen Demian Maia demonstrate this in his "Science of Jiujitsu" DVD series. The theory is that dominant side control comes from opening up and getting inside the bottom person's arms with your torso, then turning so that your body is at a 90º angle to his. Your weight is most effective once you get here because it's all on the chest and stomach.
What Nogueira does to prevent this form happening is two-fold. First, he keeps his left arm close to his side and posts his left hand on Brilz's hip to keep some distance. This partially prevents Brilz from really dropping his center of gravity onto Noguiera's torso.
The second part of the escape is where you really see Noguiera's beautiful sense of timing. Brilz continues trying to work from a weak spot--dropping shoulder butts to score some points. He only manages one, and as he rises up for the second, Nogueira explodes into the new open space. Nog uses his arm to shove Brilz's head off, and combined with the posted hand on the hip, he is able to turn Brilz parallel to him. There's a cliche in all the major grappling arts: "Where the head goes, the body follows." Nog even attacks the top part of the head, furthest out from the shoulders, where he gets maximum lever-arm efficiency (a beginner would typically shove the base of the neck and fail).
Brilz is forced into a weak spot and Nog scrambles to take advantage with GnP.
I included this next sequence because I saw something I wouldn't have been aware of if not for the catch wrestling science that K.J. has been scattering around lately. Brilz shoots, gets stuffed and leaves himself wide open for a neck crank, but Nog doesn't know to capitalize on it.
K.J. Gould: We see Brilz make the common mistake of going for the far single-leg when against the fence. This had neck-crank written all over it. Brilz drops for a low single, but again the fence is helping keep Nog up. Ideas for what Nog could have done in my Technical Wrestling#2 post.
Here'sK.J. from that post:
Sometimes in MMA a guy who isn't a wrestler may try to take you down against the cage, and he may make a mistake by transitioning from a Double-Leg to a Single-Leg on the wrong side. A wrestler worth his salt won't do this, but you might be surprised to see this mistake happen even in the UFC. If they do go for the wrong leg, you can make them pay with this Catch Wrestling style neck crank.
Up next is the moment with Little Nog had to bitterly regret his mistaken decision to go all-in for an out of position guillotine in round two. He burned out his arms and now doesn't have the strength to pull off this head and arm choke he sets up beautifully.
K.J. Gould: Nog looks to be going for a Brabo / D'Arce choke but doesn't get his top arm deep enough so his bottom arm can grip his bicep. It's also incredibly difficult to get the choke when an opponent is on all fours. Ideally Nog would want Brilz to turn into him and onto his side to deepen the choke, but with a strong base this isn't likely to happen. Instead Nog could have returned to North-South deepened the arm going under and spun to his back similar to an anaconda, and then rotated himself in to cinch in the choke.
Dan Pedersen: This is a D'arce choke, not an Anaconda (though I get them mixed up all the time). See here.
Brilz stops it by just staying wide and not allowing Nog to slip all the way into the armpit to lock up. Basic submission awareness, but it shows that Brilz knows how to keep from getting subbed by top BJJ players like Nog.
Now we come to the crucifix.
K.J. Gould: Nog wraps up a crucifix pretty well, and Brilz more then anything powers out of it. He bridges back, and is able to press and slide his left elbow enough to slip out of Nog's arm grip. It then ends up being a scramble for a takedown.
Dan Pedersen: A good crucifix, but the GIF on the right actually scares me quite a bit. Nog achieves the position and rolls Brilz, but the first thing he does is reach for a choke. A GI CHOKE. This is a very old move from the early days of Judo, but it's still used a lot in sport jiujitsu. In Judo we call it the Jigoku Jime, the "Hell Strangle." See it here.
Is Nog getting punchy in his later years? Did he forget where he was for a second? Is it a bad habit from training with a gi too much? Nog clearly reaches for something, realizes it isn't there, then he moves on to what he should have done in the first place: throw hammerstrikes.
Here's the final deep half guard sweep of the fight, after the back and forth wars from this position in the first and second rounds, it was pretty shocking to see Nog roll Brilz so easily. This is the move that IMO seals the victory for Nogueira. At the end of three rounds, he's on top.
K.J. Gould: Again, Brilz is becoming too parallel and his hips too high. The Turk Ride that was effective in the 2nd round hasn't been properly utilized in the 3rd. When you're in that position, and the guy on bottom is on his side rather than flat on his back your base is going to be compromised more often then not.
Dan Pedersen: By this point Brilz is getting sloppy because he knows he could win a decision. He opens up and gets swept by the most fundamental version of the deep half sweep. This is really unfortunate. If he had been careful and just worked the position, he might have gotten stood up or pissed off an arena full of fans, but he also might have won the round.
K.J. Gould: The 1st round was the closest, the 2nd round to Brilz and the 3rd to Nog just based on the grappling in these gifs. Some thought Brilz was robbed but in a lot of respects the fight was closer to a draw then decisive for either one.
Hope you enjoyed this epic Judo Chop and thanks to everyone who helped me get it done: Chris Nelson, Luke Thomas, K.J. Gould, Seph Smith, Patrick Tenney, and Dan Pedersen.
Here's Javi Vazquez explaining it weight distribution when on top in their half-guard:
Check out Maia explaining this side control escape around 4:00 in:
Here's Marcelo Garcia talking about the back crucifix from his new DVD series New Game Jiu Jitsu which has a whole disk devoted to the back crucifix.
The Jigoku Jime, the "Hell Strangle":