At UFC 140 last night, Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones successfully defended his title for a second time by defeating former champion Lyoto Machida in the toughest fight of Jones' career thus far. While the first round proved problematic for Jones as he was unable to adjust to Machida's timing and footwork, a well executed and persistent takedown in the second round helped turn the tide in the American's favor. Jones Landed a couple of elbows on the ground which split Machida's forehead open, and the challenger was visibly dazed when the fight resumed on the feet free of the clinch. Within seconds after an exchange Jones got the better of, Machida dropped to the mat unconsious after referee John McCarthy separated the fighters, recognizing Machida was out on his feet. Voice of the Octagon Bruce Buffer announced Jones the winner by Guillotine choke, though it was not the typical standing guillotine we see out of most fighters.
In the ring Joe Rogan asked Jones about the fight ending submission:
Joe Rogan: Now let's take a look at the standing guillotine where you put him to sleep; you caught him first with this left hand , and then when you locked up -- not only did you lock in the guillotine, you used your hand to push it up and forward, really twisting his neck in a horrible angle ... is this how you do this choke all the time?
Jon Jones: Yeah, you know ... it's not really a move that I practice, I think it's just something that comes natural from wrestling for so many years. It was a great lock, I realized that I had it and I knew that I just needed to be tough and hold the position, and eventually he would run out (of air).
As Jon Jones was adjusting the choke, Joe Rogan was quick to reference Cody McKenzie and the 'McKenzietine' during the commentary since the former TUF contestant has found a lot of success with this choke variant. Even before McKenzie brought it to our attention during his stint on Spike TV, the variant was more commonly known as a Prayer Choke in the grappling world. Among modern day grapplers the choke was originally done with your hands pressed together like you were praying, but it was realised pressing on a turned fist was much better because it locked the wrist and forearm eliminating the natural give in the wrist. This is something wrestlers have known for years and is what's referred to as making a bar, and it's this bar that is used for leverage in grappling which is where we get the names for moves like 'armbar' from (You can find more information on the etymology of the word armbar in my article for Cageside Seats).
So before it was a Prayer Choke or a McKenzietine, we can go back further still and find that it was a Front Chancery. In standard Wrestling a century ago, strangleholds were barred and only allowed in 'No Holds Barred' matches. Holds could be modified so the arm would not go under the chin for chokes and strangles which has been the case in American Folkstyle wrestling as well as many other international styles for decades. But during these 'No Holds Barred' matches, as the name suggests almost anything goes including wrapping around the neck for a choke or strangle.
The name comes from the perilous position in which the head can be found in. A Head Chancery -- or Head in Chancery -- draws its name from Chancery Court, more commonly known as a Court of Equity which originally operated separately to a Court of Law, and judges were able to act in the Monarch's conscience when presiding over a case. It wasn't until later that only trained lawyers could be a Judge of a Chancery Court, where as before it could be clerics or clergy representing a King or Queen's interest, and not necessarily the interest of Justice. Originally if you found yourself in Chancery Court where only an argument of prosecution was given, you were usually in deep, deep trouble. Similarly if you're caught in a Chancery Choke, the end is near. As you can see in the photo provided, the awkward angle of the head is key meaning not only are you compressing the carotid arteries, but you're closing the windpipe restricting air as well.
But enough of the history lesson. The beginning of the end starts in an exhange where Machida tries to rush and blast Jones with a wide looking left punch, but Jones is able to land a short left hand which drops Machida to his knees. Jones tries to use the typical double collar tie or Plum from Muay Thai but Machida is already crashing forward. Jones tries to stay heavy and sprawled on Machida to work his punches, but opts to return to the front and prevent Machida from clasping his hands and look for a Single-Leg attack. Jones has a Front Headlock (arm-in) and drives Machida back to the fence landing a knee to the body for good measure. Machida is already trying to pull his left arm out of the Front Headlock showing how loose the control is but it's enough for Jones to keep Machida in place against the fence.
Jones lets go of the Front Headlock to quickly connect his hands together, but instead of wrapping his hand on top and pulling up as you would with a traditional guillotine choke, Jones pushes underneath his fist and adjusts so Machida's head is turning. More importantly, Jones is using his left side to block any gap along the fence Machida can use to escape and put his head back in natural alignment with his body. Unfamiliar with this choke, Machida doesn't know how to defend, trying to pull down on Jones right arm. Machida's best option in my opinion would have been to get his right foot and knee outside of Jones' left, and then use his right hand to C-grip at Jones knee and drive 45 degrees and down for all he's worth, dropping to a knee in the process so he's now perpendicular to Jones and ideally Jones would have dropped to one knee as well. If Jones hasn't automatically released to post because of being off balance, you should be able to pop your head free far more easily.
As mentioned though, Jones is using his left side to block an exit with his knee pressed against the fence. Just a few seconds with the Chancery on and Machida's right arm goes limp. Fortunately the watchful eye of John McCarthy catches it immediately and stops the fight, but the image of Machida crumpling in a heap is none the less a little unsettling especially when you see the completely glazed over look in his eyes.
Here's a video tutorial on the Prayer Choke from Combat Chaz of Lockflow.com
There is also another variation that can be done that's a Figure Four Chancery. Here's a video of it used as a neck crank also known as a Front Face Lock or Grovit, by Catch Wrestling master Billy Robinson. For it to be a choke, you simply take the bar of the arm off the face and put it on the side of the neck and under the chin. Extreme caution should be taken when trying any of these.