We've seen a spate of successful leg attack submissions in MMA in the last couple of years. In addition to Japanese leg lock king Masakazu Imanari, UFC fighters like Ed Herman and Rousimar Palhares as well as Bellator's Marcin Held have been tapping fools with the kind of lower body attacks long believed to be wildly impractical in MMA.
Grappling guru Ryan Hall made much of his reputation in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling world with his 50/50 guard, a leg entanglement that opens a whole new world of leg attacks. Hall is returning to MMA full time this year and he spoke to MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas about the 50/50 guard and its recent impact on MMA.
Bloody Elbow Judo Chops on leg locks and the 50/50 guard
Here's some of what Hall had to say:
Ryan Hall: I certainly have been using it for a long time and definitely didn't invent it. It's definitely something that's only recently started to come around. It's caught a lot of heat in jiu-jitsu competitions because it's used for massive amounts of stalling, but I think of that as a shortcoming of the rules and a shortcoming in the lack of a stalling call more than anything else.
One thing I would say, though, for the most past is there aren't people who are good in it. There are a handful of people who I would consider legitimately good at the 50/50. Everyone else is kind of fumbling around at this point.
Luke Thomas: Who is good at it?
Ryan Hall: I think Rafael Mendes is fantastic. Obviously 'Toquinho' [Rousimar Palhares] has had some success there. Dean Lister was the first person in competition that I'd ever seen use it in Abu Dhabi in 2003 when he submitted 'Cacareco' [Alexandre Ferreira]. [Masakazu] Imanari is fantastic. He's been using this position for a long time, but for the most part in jiu-jitsu people use it to latch onto each other and not do much. The guys from the Atos camp do a very good job of utilizing the position for sweeping in jiu-jitsu.I use it a lot myself.
It's always exciting to see innovation in MMA and as fighters become more and more experienced at the various aspects of upper body submissions, striking and wrestling, the need to search further afield for novel attacks that will give the element of surprise only grows.
I'm looking forward to Hall's MMA career and seeing more and more fighters using the 50/50 guard to get more submissions.