Judo Chop: Jason MacDonald Uses a Nifty Arm Trap to Set Up a Triangle

Photo by Tracy Lee for Yahoo! Sports.

After his UFC 113 loss to John Salter, Jason MacDonald had to rehab a grisly broken leg for almost a year before his UFC 129 bout against Ryan Jensen. The fight aired on the UFC's Facebook page before the Pay Per View broadcast. 

Jensen, a former member of Team Quest, is a powerful wrestler with decent striking and, like many of his former Team Quest brethren, an unfortunate habit of falling into submissions. 7 of Jensen's 8 losses are by submission (87.5%). 

The Albertan MacDonald couldn't have gotten a better match up to make his return, and in front of a friendly Canadian crowd no less. 

He made the most of the opportunity and used a nifty arm trap set up to get Jensen in a triangle choke, winning via tap out at 1:37 of the first round. Jensen did everything he could to help out by dropping to guard in an ill-advised guillotine attempt and then trying to slam his way out of the triangle. Nonetheless, MacDonald showed some sweet technique.

Luke Thomas concisely summed up the MacDonald vs Jensen fight:

Jensen leaps in with punches and MacDonald attempts a single. It doesn't work and Jensen pulls guard to a guillotine. MacDonald escapes and now has Jensen's back, but he's high and is reversed. MacDonald uses clever set up to reach across and hold Jensen's hand back to throw up the triangle. He gets it and it's only seconds before Jensen is forced to tap. MacDonald stands with his hands raised clearly taking in the friendly atmosphere.

In the full entry, BE regular Patrick Tenney will break down MacDonald's technique and we'll look at some animated gifs.

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Gif by BE reader Grappo 

Here's Patrick Tenney breaking down MacDonald's technique:

Jason MacDonald focused on fundamental Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as soon as this fight hit the floor and displayed what's essentially considered the essence of the style by just using his grappling technique to at first control and then submit his opponent.

I9000_knmacdonaldtrappingarm2_medium_medium

Once MacDonald is taken down he immediately shifts onto his right hip instead of laying flat on his back (as so many people in MMA do unfortunately), what this gives MacDonald is the ability to threaten Jensen easier with submissions and to utilize his guard not only as an defensive tool but as an offensive one at the same time. With his hips shifted MacDonald comes over the top of Jensen's head with his left arm to at first get head control; while doing this he's able to get that arm deep enough across Jensen's back to get what's essentially a wrap around inside tie on the left arm (you can see MacDonald also pressing the arm back with his right arm so that he can secure the arm in a position it won't strike him from.

I8999_knmacdonaldtrappingarm_medium_medium

MacDonald wasn't necessarily trying to execute the technique I'm about to explain however I think it's important to note for the future (thank you No Gi Grappling.com for the images below):

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While this picture illustrates the start to this technique from a half guard position, I'll start it from the image that most resembles the guard; you can see that the arm is trapped back in a similar manner to how MacDonald begins his triangle setup.

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Here we have the arm fully secured with the closed guard (I'll argue against the fact that the person using the technique is flat on his back but oh well...)

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Here we see the proper hip shift and the technique itself; instead of pushing the arm through and bringing his right leg up and over the arm (ala MacDonald against Jensen which can result in the arm sometimes sliding through or escaping in a slippery no gi situation) the arm is trapped using the instep of the left leg along with the hands still securing it. Typically you'll see this positional control called the Rubix Cube.

Goldenarmtriangle009_medium

Once the instep is secured under the arm the focus starts to become freeing the right leg to come up and over the exposed shoulder for the triangle, in this image a foothold is used just for extra protection against the arm freeing itself as the right leg is swung out and up into the triangle submission.

Now back to Mr. MacDonald:

I9002_knmacdonaldtriangle_medium_medium

Once MacDonald has cleared the shoulder with his right leg Jensen postures up as he understands the situation he's now been put in, trying to slam himself free of the triangle before it gets fully locked. Important to note is how diligent MacDonald is at keeping that arm secured, it's obviously a big worry for him (would be for me as well seeing how it's the arm throwing the strikes...). When Jensen slams back down he isn't freed and MacDonald slides his legs into the figure four as he keeps Jensen's head pulled down to avoid the triangle being broken before the figure four lock can be completed. MacDonald then angles off to the proper side and pushes the arm across, all textbook details of a proper triangle.

I9003_knmacdonaldtrianglefinish_medium_medium

Here we have the finish, MacDonald has the proper position for a triangle and is pulling the head down which allows for even more pressure on the carotid arteries, he's curling his abdomen and leaning up into the triangle and recognizes the fact that Jensen's left leg is too far away to grab to break Jensen's posture so he goes two hands on the head and eventually Jensen needs to tap or go unconscious. Really an absolutely beautiful execution of the triangle choke and it's got to make you appreciate the gameness of Jason MacDonald even more. For those of you not realizing how good of an MMA grappler MacDonald is, take a watch at his fight against Demian Maia, it's amazingly entertaining and really shows how good MacDonald is for being able to survive a grappling situation with the pre-muay thai practicing Maia.

One final note: It's important to notice that from all the talk we hear about rubber guard protecting the guard player from strikes that we see that using basic rules of position that are laid out to just about every white belt that comes into an academy can also protect you from strikes. If technique is diligently applied and the details of the control and execution of the technique are applied then you can survive the situation longer than your opponent will, definitely a lesson learned from Helio.

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