Ultimate Submissions: When technique meets power


Brazilian jiu-jitsu has often been recognized as a discipline that allows the smaller man to conquer an oftentimes over-sized opponent. This perception of the art has been around for mixed martial arts fans since Royce Gracie was submitting fighters over 200-pounds, who were muscular and massive in comparison to his own substandard stature.

While this is very true, as the art of jiu-jitsu is focused immensely around leverage and technique and strays from the need to have brute strength, there is also a need for power. Whether that power comes in the form of amazing wrist control like that of Anthony Pettis or whether it be raw power shown in the upper body of Matt Hughes as he choked out third degree black belt Ricardo Almeida, the need for power remains in grappling.

Not only is power used in takedowns and positional control, it is also highly beneficial to submissions. Prying an arm free for an arm bar or choking someone unconscious in three seconds, as opposed to eight, is a game changer.

Follow me after the jump for a few examples of power induced submission finishes.

When you are a Division I wrestler it isn’t unheard of to become a very respectable grappler in mixed martial arts. When your teacher is jiu-jitsu black belt Matt Serra, it isn’t unheard of to develop a very slick submission game. Being a purple belt and having one year of formal jiu-jitsu training and entering into jiu-jitsu's most prestigious tournament, going toe-to-toe with one of the world’s best grapplers, well, that is unheard of.  

That's the story of top ranked prospect and undefeated fighter Chris Weidman, though. He's a 6-0 Serra/Longo trained middleweight that is buzzing right now in the combat sports world. From giving Andre Galvao one of his stiffest tests in the 2009 ADCC competition to his perfect record in the mixed martial arts world, Weidman is moving on up. 

He is a perfect example of someone who can use his remarkable strength to compliment his improving grappling skills. He showed that when he met up with tough Canadian Jesse Bongfeldt.

Before we start, let me first give a thank you to Zombie Prophet for the .gifs. Check out his site ( -- he has .gifs and videos of fights up faster than anyone else on the 'net.


Weidman initiates this sequence as he launches a solid knee into Bongfeldt's body. In anticipation of the knee, Bongfeldt folds in to soften the blow and moves in for the takedown just as the knee lands. Bongfeldt attempts to grab onto a single leg, the same leg that launched the knee. In attempting to takedown the All-American wrestler, the karate practitioner leaves his head in a very bad position.

Recognizing that Bongfeldt left his head under his arm pit, Weidman retains balance as he slips his right arm up and under the neck and chin of Bongfeldt. Weidman quickly begins to put some force into the choke by squeezing the arm, clutching his free hand which is not being isolated by the left arm of Bongfeldt, making this a no-arm in guillotine.

For more on guillotines read here.

While fighting with Bongfeldt, Weidman remains calm with the choke. As he begins to push Bongfeldt back, he lifts his body up, arching his upper body, which, as you can see in the clip, makes for a very erect and pressure inducing posture. That lift allows the weight and leverage of the upper body to further strain the neck of Bongfeldt.

This is the same movement you would see when this choke is being executed from your back, with the exception being the lack of hip involvement. This displays even more so the power used in a standing guillotine.

Weidman pushes Bongfeldt back towards the fence and with the leverage and power being used there is no viable option then to tap out or go unconscious. Weidman shows, once again, why he is so heralded as a prospect and why the middleweight division should be on high alert.

Rousimar Palhares is one of the most physically imposing fighters in the sport today. Incredibly muscled, the stout middleweight is built like a tree stump which is what his nickname, "Toquinho," means in Portuguese.

Palhares has built a reputation as a dirty fighter but nevertheless is one of the most technically sound jiu-jitsu players in the sport. With 13 career wins, Palhares has notched nine submissions, six of those by way of leg lock. If you have seen him fight you have probably seen him go for leg locks frequently, as he may be regarded as the most dangerous fighter in MMA with a limb in his grasp.

The reason being his power, Palhares is an insanely strong grappler that doesn’t need to power through submissions due to his technical prowess but only adds to the devastation with his brute strength.

Never was it more evident then in his fight with Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111.


Palhares evades a front kick and as Drwal falls to his back, Palhares swarms quickly. While scrambling, Drwal's left foot is served up on a silver platter.

Leg locks are extremely dangerous and even more brutal. In this case Palhares attacks with a heel hook which can be easily chained to become a knee bar. Palhares, using his brute strength, doesn’t have to attack the knee or really set up the submission since as soon as he uses some of his power to put force on the hold, the pain sets in.

The heel hook, as its name suggests, really attacks your opponent's heel but it also sends shockwaves down your leg and starts to really attack the knee. Ligament damage abounds. 

In this clip, after grabbing the left ankle under the arm pit, Palhares drops to his back with it clutched together by his body and arm. In simple terms, he has a guillotine of Drawl’s foot. With that foot near the arm pit trapped, Palhares pulls back on that hold by using his weight and leverage to torque backwards while shifting his hips forward.

For more on the leg lock, including Palhares' use of a knee bar, click here and here.

The tap comes immediately, as do the torn ligaments. The hold is excruciating and immediately injures the knee and leg. This comes as little surprise considering the power of the initiator. With such strength in his upper body, Palhares' adds fear to go with his ridiculously technical arsenal of attacks.

Leg locks do not have a 100-percent success rate; they can most certainly be fended off. There have been countless leg lock attempts in the UFC that have been countered or fought through.

But when dealing with powerful grapplers who snap through defenses with brute strength, there isn’t much to do if one is caught this deep in a limb submission.

That’s it for this week, Maniacs. Until next time.

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