MMA Jiu-Jitsu

This weekend’s Strikeforce card (Jan 29, 2011) in San Jose, CA saw its three most antipated matchups end in brilliant displays of Jiu-Jitsu.

Roger Gracie, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and Nick Diaz all finished their opponents using textbook Jiu-Jitsu techniques. All three fighters are known for the grappling ability. Gracie and Souza have been Jiu-Jitsu champions multiple times over. Why are these three so successful when other BJJ tournament champions have not enjoyed comparable success in Mixed Martial Arts?

The difference is between having MMA Jiu-Jitsu and Tournament Jiu-Jitsu.

Three attributes that make for good MMA Jiu-Jitsu are as follows.

  1. Setups – using setups in BJJ is tried and true. However, good MMA Jiu-Jitsu submissions are almost always setup with strikes. Jiu-Jitsu players get into deep trouble in MMA competition when they try to only use traditional tournament style setups in MMA matches. Roger Gracie used kicks to control the space and setup his takedown, eventually leading to a back take and rear naked choke against Trevor Prangley at Strikeforce.
  2. Timing – in MMA and tournament Jiu-Jitsu, submissions from top control can be slow, tight, and methodical. However, from the bottom position in MMA, you must immediately seize the opportunity for an effective submission. Nick Diaz transitioned from closed-guard to armbar, and continued to spin through the armbar to top position in a matter of seconds. He did not give Cyborg an opportunity to attempt ground and pound from his closed guard or the bottom armbar position. Many fighters have been knocked out from their closed guard and the bottom armbar position.
  3. Agressive Positioning – Jacare used agressiveness to compliment his already superior Jiu-Jitsu to wear down Robbie Lawler and submit him. Jacare switched side control grips and holding positions several times to control nullify Lawler’s escape attempts. He limited Lawler’s opportunities to escape when he throwing strikes by striking from controlled positions. Lawler was able limit Jacare’s damage from closed guard in the first round when Jacare was in Lawler’s guard and the referee, McCarthy, stood the fighters up. Jacare recognized this and worked to pass Lawler’s guard the remainder of the match. Jacare’s aggressive positioning and transitions nullifed Lawler’s escapes attempts and wore Lawler down during the course of the match allowing Jacare to take Lawler’s back and sink in the choke.

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