UFC 133 Fight Card Judo Chop: Chaining Takedowns with Rani Yahya

(This is a collaborative piece by the Bloody Elbow Grappling Coverage team. The introduction is written by KJ Gould and the analysis is written by Ben Thapa.)

Making up one of the two confirmed fights for the UFC 133 Spike TV preliminary card this Saturday, a pair of Featherweights do battle in the form of undefeated Team Alpha Male member and 2 time All American NCAA Wrestler Chad Mendes taking on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizz Rani Yahya. With a win over Yahya, Mendes makes a solid case for himself to be in the mix to take on the winner of Jose Aldo vs Kenny Florian when they battle for the championship title at UFC 136.
But first let's see what Mendes is up against. Rani Yahya has legitimate submission skills and the potential to end a fight early if he spots the opportunity to. As you'll see in this Judo Chop recapping his dominant performance over Eddie Wineland at WEC 40, he's a Brazilian fighter that's evolving in MMA and picking up offensive wrestling to get the fight to where he feels he has the advantage - something that is often a problem for Jiu Jitsu fighters. Does Yahya have what it takes to get Mendes to the ground and impose his will on him like Wineland?

Join us after the jump for the analysis and animated gif goodness you've come to expect from Bloody Elbow.

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Gifs by BE reader Grappo.

I19825_yahya1_medium Rani Yahya secured a 65 second rear naked choke of Eddie Wineland at WEC 40 while showcasing his Brazilian jiu-jitsu roots and smart set-ups for positional advances. We first see Rani flick out a long distance jab and keep his head low in a style very reminiscent of boxers looking to score against bigger, stronger opponents - which Eddie is in this match. Eddie sees the jab coming from a long way off and slips it nicely, while pivoting over his front foot and stepping with his back foot. Rani sees that and begins a similar motion to the jab, but at the same time Eddie anticipates another jab and looks to pop Rani in the face with a jab of his own, Rani has sold the fake jab with a slight hitch in a shot to secure a single leg on Eddie's front foot. Rani gets both hands on the back of the knee and begins to drive Eddie down to the mat away from his hopping back foot. Eddie is focused on head/neck control and despite his hopping, cannot stop the takedown.

I19827_yahya2_mediumDue to balance and arm strength, Eddie is able to keep his body off the ground. However, Rani drives him back into the fence and remains bent over to keep Eddie's balance off-kilter. They remain like this for three to four seconds, as both men struggle for control of the fight.

Eddie has reached over with his farside hand to try and break Rani's control of his leg from a different angle. Rani reacts by straightening his legs momentarily and then in a motion very similar to wrestling's Granby roll, Rani folds his right leg underneath him and rolls over his right shoulder. With good instincts, Eddie manages to avoid being caught in side control or with both legs under Rani's control. Eddie begins to scramble to his feet, but turns his back while Rani has one hand around Eddie's waist. Rani immediately goes for the waist lock and matches Eddie's scramble to the fence:

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As Eddie hits the fence and turns to deal with with his opponent, Rani keeps the waist lock and slips behind him. Many fans probably recognize this as a decent set-up for a German suplex (a la Rory MacDonald/Nate Diaz or Kazuya Miyata and the Double Rainbow Suplex on Lion Inoue). Rani didn't grow up wrestling, so he resorts to what he knows from Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which is to use body weight and his opponent's weak spots to do the work. At the 30 second mark, he begins to sit down while retaining the waist lock and uses one foot to nudge Eddie's knee outwards. Eddie may also have been expecting a suplex from his years of wrestling. This breaks Eddie's balance and leaves Rani with his feet inside Eddie's own in what could be called a backwards butterfly hooks position. As per his BJJ training, Rani wants to hook behind Eddie's knees and extend his own legs in order to open up Eddie's legs for the more conventional hooks. Eddie is strong and smart, so he begins to break Rani's waist lock and succeeds in getting one hand off just a beat after he hits the ground. Rani allows Eddie to pin one hand and slides the other up to the chest. Rani then pulls the pinned hand backwards, which extends Eddie's hand - something he's not comfortable doing. Eddie lets go of the pinned hand and begins to stand.

I19833_yahya4a_mediumRani uses his free hand to start going for a seatbelt grip - as per standard BJJ doctrine - while standing with Eddie and getting a standing back hook in. At this point, Eddie wants to get his backside onto the fence and fight Rani off in the clinch, but Rani overbalances him by securing the seatbelt and committing to the single back hook by tipping himself over. Eddie lets go from fighting the seat belt grip and puts his hands out to prevent another fall to the ground. We skip over a few seconds where Eddie tries to prevent Rani from sinking a second hook in and half-heartedly grip fighting for control of his own neck.

I19836_yahya6a_mediumRani has both hooks in and has managed to progress the seatbelt grip into a rear naked choke set-up. Although he's hanging off Eddie's back, the arm is tight across Eddie's neck and Eddie's hands are down on the mat trying to keep himself upright while possibly shucking Rani off with gravity's assistance. The hooks and grips Rani has prevents that and Eddie has truly lost the grip fighting battle bit by bit at this point. His insistence on staying upright means that Rani has all the time he needs to finish cinching the rear naked choke. This is good progression from back control to a submission as taught in many Brazilian jiu jitsu classes. Due to his skill and tenacity in bringing the fight to the ground, Rani was able to quickly seize advantage of the openings Eddie's slips in technique created and get the lightning quick submission at the 1:05 minute mark.

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