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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 29 November 2020
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Anatomy of a choke: Just how did Frankie Edgar submit Cub Swanson?

The rear-naked choke is the most commonly used submission in MMA.

Cub Swanson asks to referee to stop the fight.
Cub Swanson asks to referee to stop the fight.
Image: Michael Thomas/AP/Press Association Images

FOR SOME FANS of MMA, particularly the casual ones, there tends to be little regard for the finer nuances of the sport, namely grappling. For them, anything other than an all-out, blood-soaked barnburner is tantamount to boredom.

Admittedly, when you first start familiarising yourself with mixed martial arts, getting to grips to what is transpiring on the canvas can be difficult and, unquestionably, it lacks the instant gratification of witnessing a perfectly placed head-kick or over-hand right. However, an expertly applied submission can be just as awe-inspiring as a devastating knockout.

Although other forms, such as judo and sambo are utilised, the bedrock of MMA grappling is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). In fact, if not for BJJ, the sport – certainly in its present guise – would not exist.

BJJ was developed during the 1920s by Helio Gracie, as a derivative of judo. Due to his slight frame, Gracie would augment the Japanese art so that a smaller or weaker person, through the use of leverage and technique, could gain parity against a larger opponent.

Source: Valente BrothersTV/YouTube

For many years, all over Brazil, he issued what would become known as the ‘Gracie Challenge’ to all-comers, regardless of size or strength, in a bid to prove that his martial art was the most effective. The ensuing fights, of which Gracie won most, became known as ValeTudo. Subsequently, a legend was born.

His son, Rorion, would do likewise in America during the 1980s and, along with Art Davie, started the UFC. Rorion’s brother, Royce – who was about 11.5 stone when soaking wet – went on to win two of the first three UFC events, at a time when there were no weight-classes, rounds, time limits or any discernible rules.

Source: FOX Sports/YouTube

The entire sport was spawned from BJJ, and it remains a pivotal weapon in any fighter’s arsenal; offensively or defensively. On Saturday night, Frankie Edgar used a rear-naked choke/face crank hybrid to submit Cub Swanson, and he has the Gracies to thank for knowing how to do so.

There are two methods of applying such a choke; the first, is to encircle an opponent’s neck, then grab your own bicep on the other arm. Conversely, the ‘Choker’ clasps his/her hands together having secured control of the neck – Edgar did a little of both. According to mixedmartialarts.com the rear-naked choke is the most commonly used submission in all of MMA.

Below, grandsons of Helio Gracie, Ralek and Renner, both of whom work with some of MMA’s elite, explain here how UFC Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones used the technique to submit Quinton Jackson at UFC 135 in 2011.

Source: GracieBreakdown/YouTube

Has Frankie Edgar’s win pushed Conor McGregor down the pecking order for a title shot?

Edgar stops Swanson in five-round brawl – but what will it mean for McGregor’s title chances?

About the author:

Tom Rooney

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