UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman and former champion Anderson Silva are set to rematch on December 28 at UFC 168 in one of the most-hyped Middleweight matches in recent memory. In their first fight, a leg lock attack by Weidman was hailed as a great show of confidence by some and a serious error by others.
Let's take an in depth look at the leg lock attack by Weidman and judge for ourselves.
To begin, here is a link to the gif of the full sequence so you have it fresh in your mind. Leave it open in the other tab as a reference.
On to the breakdown:
It started in the first round as Weidman went to stand in Anderson Silva's guard to continue raining down strikes, which he had been having some success with up to this point in the round. Silva, looking to have some form of control of Weidman as he stands, switches to the de la Riva guard.
Pictured above, the de la Riva guard has become very popular in sport Jiu Jitsu as an answer to a top fighter attempting a standing guard pass. The guard involves Silva using his right leg to hook around Weidman's left leg and snake inside, tying up the leg and limiting Weidman's ability to move. Silva has achieved a fairly strong position, as he has broken Weidman's posture, has strong wrist control on Weidman's right hand, and appears to be snaking his leg in even deeper to get threaded through Weidman's legs.
That position can be used for any number of balance-disrupting moves, including a sweep similar to the scissors sweep from the de la Riva. Without the gi grips, Silva is unlikely to finish the sweep, but he very easily could create a scramble in which he could escape to his feet. Weidman is out of position and needs to react or lose his position.
So Weidman attempts a spinning kneebar, attacking the leg that Silva was using for his de la Riva hook by kicking his right leg back and spinning around. It is not an uncommon technique, though not often seen in competition. In a gi with a belt on, if any mistake is made, it is an amazingly efficient way to give up one's back.
But Weidman did an admirable job with the execution, and for a further look at the attack here is the legendary Rigan Machado teaching the technique.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Portland - Rigan Machado 2013 - Countering The de la Riva Guard With A Knee Bar (via Northwest Fighting Arts)
Weidman ends up with a deep and very threatening kneebar, pictured below.
Anderson Silva is in deep trouble here. A kneebar works functionally the same as an armbar - the goal is to position the leg in a way where Weidman can use his hips and entire body to hyper-extend the knee. The leg is a much larger and stronger limb, making it more difficult to control and finish, so the kneebar requires precise positioning. To keep the leg from rotating, Weidman needs to pinch his knees tight together and keep Silva's knee aligned at the proper angle.
If Siva's toes remain pointing down and Weidman's hips can pushed directly into his knee, bending it the wrong way, Silva will be forced to tap. Silva has both hands on Weidman's left knee, pulling on it both to pull himself up and to flair it just enough to give him space to turn his leg.
Silva is able to give himself just enough space to rotate his leg. Above, his knee is turned enough that Weidman no longer can force it to bend the wrong direction. At this point, Silva has escaped the kneebar, and Weidman must switch his attack if he wants to submit Silva.
Weidman passes Silva's foot to his left armpit and begins to attack a heelhook. The heelhook works by immobilizing the top half of the leg and then gripping the heel and rotating the bottom of the leg, tearing the tendons in the knee.
In a refreshing bit of savvy, Weidman doesn't lock up the 50/50 guard, where he would lock up his legs on the outside, which many in MMA do as a hold over from the rules format of sport Jiu Jitsu. Instead, Weidman locks up between Silva's legs, which would be illegal in sport Jiu Jitsu, attacking for what is known as the "leg knot".
He ends up in one of the stages in the progression to a full leg knot where both his feet are under Silva's leg. This leaves Silva's only escape option to try to step over Weidman's feet, and as Weidman uses his upper body to rotate Silva's heel from left to right spin with the motion and out of the heelhook.
And that is just what Silva does to escape the heelhook, turning over with the motion until he is able to free his leg. Here is the link to the gif again so you can see the whole sequence again.
To close with, here is one of America's premiere Sambo instructors/competitors, Riley Bodycomb, teaching the leg knot. Notice the ankle control grip that would prevent Silva's step over escape in the progression to the full leg knot which prevents really any kind of escape.
Sambo Leg Knot Part 1 (via TakingItToTheMMAT)