Ultimate Submissions: The Anaconda Choke


In a sport full of elite athletes ranging from dangerous kick boxers to powerhouse wrestlers the appreciation of crafty submissions have often flown under the radar. The very foundation of mixed martial arts was based on grappling and submissions. From the days of Royce Gracie all the way to today and ADCC and champions like Braulio Estima the submission game despite being overlooked is still very prominent.


To give more appreciation to the submissions I have chosen to break down all popular submission holds and chokes ranging from the most often seen submissions like arm bars and rear naked chokes to the rare submissions like the gogoplata and Peruvian neck tie.


This will be a reoccurring series that will contrast my favoritism in my fanposts towards the striking aspect of mixed martial arts. If anyone in the mmamania community as any insight as to any errors I make or would like to add anything feel free to leave comments in the comment section below. Jiu Jitsu is such a diverse discipline and everyone seems to have their own methods, set ups and minor details that differ from gym to gym and trainer to trainer.


The first submission will be the Anaconda Choke.


This choke is traditionally started from the sprawl position, happening quite frequently with a very experienced grappler stuffing a takedown. The choke itself is a headlock variation and shares similarities to other arm chokes such as the arm-triangle and the D’Arce choke.


Follow me for more on the choke and famous examples of its usage.

The Anaconda Choke



Essentially an arm triangle from the headlock position. Ideally you want your base to be in-line with your opponents head. . The fighter who is on top weaves his arm under the opponent's neck and through the armpit and grasps his biceps or cluthes his hand in a Gable Grip. While the coke can be finished here the most effective way is to continue the technique it what is called a gator roll.


Once you are latched on to the bicep or locked into the Gable Grip you will pin your opponent the trapped shoulder which gives you a better angle to disrupt blood flow to the head. The easiest way to pin your opponent as described would be to use the Gator Roll which simply described is rolling your opponent onto his untrapped shoulder and when doing so use the momentum to turn him onto his trapped shoulder.


The first fighter to be credited with using the Anaconda choke in a mixed martial arts fight is the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira who submitted Hirotaka Yokoi and Heath Herring in back to back fights. Nogueria attributed learning the technique from Luis "Buscape" Firmino.


Some of the most notable usages of the choke are Randy Couture in his match against Mike Van Arsdale, Brendan Schaub submitting Demico Rogers in an Ultimate Fighter fight that doesn’t actually count towards Schaub’s record, Babalu Sobral submitting David Heath in his controversial UFC bout, Phil Davis pulling off a beautiful choke on Alexander Gustafsson and the aforementioned Nogueira fights.



At the beginning of this gif we see "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis in the sprawl position. He weaves his arm just as described before and immediately creates the angle and leverage to Gator Roll. As soon as he does he pancakes his body together creating a different angle that will make the choke even tighter. He also improvises by using the cage for leverage which just adds even more tightness to the choke. I chose this gif to be the one I describe because the technique here is shown move for move exactly how I learned it.

The Anaconda choke is very hard to defend once its sunk in so it is very important not to panic or freeze up if you are being placed in the choke. One of many ways to defend is to try and create a scramble when your opponent attempts to gator roll which would hopefully loosen his grip and base enabling you to get out. If you are attempting to escape prior to the roll you want to place the trapped side arm and hand cupping your head similar to the way you would be positioned if you were holding a phone to your ear. That should give you some space to breathe and prepare for the roll or attempt to throw your opponent off his base.


Other Notable Displays Of The Choke


Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Hirotaka Yokoi


This Anaconda choke is recognized as being the first one done in MMA. While it may have been done prior this is undoubtedly the first significant use of this hold. In this gif we can’t see the set up that Nogueira uses but we can see the picture perfect gator roll and the proper arm placement. There was no escaping this one. Also, notice his shift on his body to create that angle mentioned earlier to tighten the hold.



Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs War Machine


This choke was highly modified but effective. Yoshida doesn’t finish the hold with the conventional roll but instead does what we often call a monkey roll basically a reverse somersault that lands Yoshida perpendicular to War Machine as they land from the mini scramble. Regardless, the choke is tight and War Machine goes out.



Brendan Schaub vs Demico Rogers


Brendan Schaub locks in the hold on fellow TUF cast mate Demico Rogers. He does what is taught once the hold is tight, he rolls and from there it is all basics. Rogers doesn’t seem to have great hip movement and Schaub powers his way to a submission.



Babalu Sobral vs David Heath


We do not get to see Sobral’s set up for this but to basically outline it, Sobral gets dominant position and drops heavy elbows that forces Heath to scramble which leads Sobral into a sprawl position where the BJJ black belt is quick to snatch the hold and gator rolls. This is more notable because Sobral holds the choke after the tap and referee intervening which led to Sobral’s dismissal from the UFC.

Until next time Maniacs....

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