Ultimate Submissions: A featherweight contender emerges with a D'arce Choke victory at UFC on FOX


This past Saturday (Nov. 12, 2011), mixed martial arts fans were treated to the debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on the FOX television network. The historic night was headlined by a heavyweight title fight that saw Junior dos Santos dethrone former champ Cain Velasquez in little over a minute by knockout.

But before that fight, the card was stacked full of exciting match-ups.

One of those fights was a contest between two fighters who were riding very hot streaks. Rising prospect Pablo Garza would enter the Octagon with a record of 11-2 and two very impressive finishes in his first two UFC bouts.

Dustin Poirier would bring a 10-1 record with him on quite a run himself, a four-fight win streak with three of those being under the UFC banner.

In a division that is still looking for contenders to emerge to challenge Jose Aldo for his featherweight championship, these two fighters were one impressive showing from vaulting themselves into the hunt for a UFC belt.

Which one did it? Follow me after the extended entry to find out.

At the young age of 22, Dustin Poirier already has made a name for himself.

He was matched up with rising contender Josh Grispi in a fight that was supposed to be a "stay busy" bout with champion Jose Aldo injured. Grispi, already the number one contender, stayed on the card to face Poirier on short notice.

Big mistake.

Poirier dominated Grispi en route to the unanimous decision victory. It would be his first fight and first win inside the Octagon. Later this year, he would win another dominant decision over Jason Young who was filling in for Rani Yahya. With two wins inside the octagon and three straight overall, Poirier would meet up with the 27-year-old rising star Pablo Garza.

From’s play by play:

Round one: Garza opens with a front kick but Poirier has him dancing near the fence with good footwork. Garza throws a nice leg kick but he's still stuck on the outside. Head kick from Poirier is blocked and he swarms Garza with punches but cant' sneak anything through Garza's defenses. Garza is crossing his feet a bit which could get him in trouble. Poirier catches a kick and throws some more big punches on Garza before backing off. Another kick is caught by Poirier and he throws him down. Garza clinches and tries to throw knees but gets shrugged off. Garza throws a nice body kick and then he catches a Poirier kick, taking him down and latching on a kneebar but Poirier escapes. Garza lands a nice inside leg kick and Poirier swarms him with punches. Garza drops down looking for a single leg but Poirier gets on top. Garza locks down a leg from below but Poirier drops some short punches and then a big right elbow to the head. Poirier postures up and drops some big punches and Garza is getting overwhelmed here. Garza tries to lock him down looking for an armbar at the end of the round. 10-9 Poirier

Round two: Garza opens with some wild strikes, throwing a big left knee that throws himself off balance. Garza drops down and pulls guard. Poirier is in half guard and Garza has him locked down a bit. Poirier drops a big elbow and Poirier sneaks his arm under Garza's neck and latches on a D'Aarce choke. Poirier is completely stuck here and he gets rolled over nicely and is forced to tap. Terrific finish by Poirier there. 

Final result: Dustin Poirier defeats Pablo Garza via submission (D'arce choke) at 1:32 of round two

With the win, Poirier puts his name in the cap to be matched with another contender (Erik Koch) in hopes of scheduling a day for a championship fight. Jose Also will look to defend his title against Chad Mendes in the early 2012 and without a clear contender for the belt, this fight was huge in terms of long term implications.

But what exactly finishes the fight for Poirier? A D’arce Choke is the submission used to force the tap out on Garza.

The D’arce Choke is named after Joe D’arce, a black belt under Renzo Gracie who has claimed to learn the move from John Danaher and Marc Laimon. It is simply stated a modified head-and-arm choke. The choke also has been called a Brabo Choke and regardless of what you call it or how it is set up, the chokes are basically the same thing.

The choke itself is very similar to the Anaconda Choke, a personal favorite which was featured in its very own "Ultimate Submissions" entry. In simple terms, the choke focuses on the arm-triangle method, in the D’arce technique the choking arm is thread under the nearest arm. The set up usually comes from a sprawl position where the head/shoulder area is beneath your own body.

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.

Now onto the choke.


Pablo Garza, beneath Dustin Poirier, had established his half guard and was looking to stay active possible fishing for sweeps or submissions, really anything to keep Poirier from dominating from top position.

Poirier throws a very powerful elbow strike on the head of Garza which sparks an immediate reaction from Garza to spring his upper body up and in doing so, Poirier immediately puts his weight on the neck/shoulder area of Garza while fishing his right arm over the shoulder and under the armpit.

That right hand quickly clutches around the throat and grips the side of the neck; this is the main difference between the Anaconda and the D’arce, the way the arm is thread through. As Poirier clutches onto the neck for grip he looks to establish his base to keep balance. This patience is what prevents scrambles from happening. Finding an opening can lead to over-excitement and often lack of technique. Poirier stays patient and diligent; as soon as his base is centered he goes back to work.  

He hugs tightly on the upper body of Garza, now grasping onto his left arm’s bicep similar to most chokes utilized in the sport. He grabs onto the bicep which is what will tighten the choke and he squeezes. In doing so Poirier brings the choking arm upwards, which causes the forearm to suffocate Garza and really put the pressure on the choke.

He simultaneously stays heavy on the neck/head area which also causes even more pressure.

Poirier forcefully uses the choke to flatten out Garza and soon after earns the submission victory. With an impressive finish over a quality opponent, Poirier is now ready to tackle possible top contenders at 145-pounds.

For a slower clip of the choke and its set-up.


So Maniacs, what are your thoughts on Dustin Poirier and his impressive performance? How will he fare against Erik Koch at UFC 143?

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.