I cannot be sure, because my memory seems to find itself in a state of perpetual decline, but I think UFC on Fox 9's bout between Zach Makovsky and Scott Jorgensen boasts more actual wrestling than any fight in UFC history. By "wrestling", in this case, I mean what I have referred to in the past as "pure wrestling situations". Pure wrestling situations materialize in the fleeting moments of an MMA contest where kicking, punching, choking, limb twisting and other elements of human cock fighting become irrelevant, and only the kind of wrestling you would see performed by spandex-clad combatants on a mat matters
Not only did this fight offer us a large number of pure wrestling situations, it offered them in a wide variety of wrestling positions, some of which do not commonly manifest themselves in cage fighting. Two story lines appear fairly consistently throughout these situations. First, Makovsky, a solid wrestler for Division I Drexel University, but far from a star, showed finely tuned and well-schooled wrestling, and generally dominated the wrestling component of this fight against an athlete with substantially greater collegiate accomplishments. Second, Jorgensen, a fantastic Division I wrestler for an elite Boise State program, who placed in the top twelve in the NCAA tournament three times, made a series of head-scratching technical decisions throughout the wrestling phases of the fight, leading one to wonder if he vastly underestimated the wrestling skills of his opponent.
In Part I of this two-part technique recap, we will look at some the pure wrestling situations which popped up while both fighters were standing. In part two, we will enter into a detailed examination of this fight's fantastic scrambles.
Jorgensen's Failure To Take Advantage of Good Wrestling Position
If I have one criticism of Jorgensen's wrestling in this fight (and I have a couple), I would aim it at the fact that he routinely achieved a body lock from double unders, one of the most commanding holds to have while wrestling in the standing position, and he essentially did nothing with it. Once a wrestler obtains a body lock from double unders, he enjoys a wide selection of high-percentage options to turn his hold into a take down. In this fight, time after time, Jorgensen eschewed these reliable options, and instead wasted his superior position with less-than-ideal finishes.
At :37 of the first round, Jorgensen has his hands clasped behind Makovsky's back in a double-under body lock. Jorgenson elects to step deep between Makovsky's legs, and hips in hard in an attempt to whip Makovsky to his back. This technique possesses an inherent problem in that it only displaces the defensive man's near leg, allowing him to support his weight with his far leg. Despite this, Jorgensen still manages to muscle the throw into a hip-to-hip position on the knees, where he has a seat belt around Makovsky's back and Makovsky has a whizzer (frame 3).
From here, Jorgensen attempts to do something forbidden by coaches in many wrestling rooms when he tries to step over the whizzer. The only likely way this will end well for Jorgensen would be if he managed to throw his leg in all the way over Makovsky's far hip, which he almost does, but not quite (frame 4). Instead, Makovsky clamps down on the whizzer and gets out; Jorgensen did a whole bunch of work for nothing.
This identical situation plays itself out at 4:39 of the second round. We see a body look for Jorgensen, he tries to throw by displacing only the near leg, and Makovsky uses his other leg to stable himself to avoid a potential takedown.
Jorgensen again squanders a double-under body lock in the third round. I cannot be certain what he was trying to do, but it appears as if he attempts a half-hearted inside trip attempt, which Makovsky easily avoids.
Jorgensen's only missteps did not occur in double-under positions. At 4:35 of round 2, Jorgensen finds himself struggling to finish with yet another body lock, and decides to transition to a front headlock. In the process, he extends himself too much reaching over Makovsky's head, leaving himself open for a duck under, an opening of which Makovsky happily takes advantage. Since Makovsky's head has already cleared Jorgensen's arm, all he has to do is lower his level, pull Jorgenson past him, and swivel around behind for control. Notice that at the beginning of the exchange, Jorgensen has an underhook with his left arm, around which Makozsky holds a corresponding overhook with a grip on Jorgensens triceps. Makovsky uses the grip to pull Jorgensen forward and onto his head as he executes the duck under.
Later in the second round, Makosky ends up head down with his arms extended in a head-inside single position. He improves his position by sliding his hips back under him an raising his head, but then finds himself in Jorgensen's front headlock. Makovsky executes a technique known as a peek out (among other things), and close cousin of the duck under, to escape the headlock. He sits hard to his right buttock, and uses this to push off the ground and pop his head skyward, flinging Jorgensen's arm off of his neck.
Makovsky hit a nice peek out, but I find myself shocked that a wrestler of Jorgensen's caliber did not exhibit more command from this position. Properly held front headlocks should always prevent the opponent from slipping his head out between the headlocker's elbow and torso.
I realize at this point just how critical I have been to Jorgensen and his wrestling; I take no pleasure in it. Something else dawns on me: in my experience, I have seen quite a few big weight cuts make excellent wrestlers look as if they have forgotten every technique they have ever learned. This does not suggest that something similar happened in Jorgensen's case, but one does wonder.
Either way, Makovsky deserves a great deal of credit. His wrestling looked, polished, clean and very quick, and he proved why sometimes resumes do not matter.
Join me next time for part two of this Technique Recap, where we break down a bounty of beautiful scrambles truly worthy of the holidays.