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carlos machado

The ground is my ocean, I’m the shark, and most people don’t even know how to swim.


– Carlos Machado –

« I lost my fight.
I lost my fuckin’ fight.
Damn! I just don’t get it, I did everything I could leading to this moment.
I drilled my closed guard.
I drilled my double legs.
I did everything conor did.
I even went Cross Fit.
Cross Fit god damn it!
I don’t get it, he defended every takedowns.
I shoot, he sprawls.
Shoot again, I hit a wall.
And when I begin to realise there is something fishy with my gameplan, he lights me up like a christmas tree. »
Doc what’s happening?

Today friends, we will try to answer this tricky question:

What can I do against a better striker and wrestler?

Take it easy, I don’t have THE answer but rather an idea of what it could be. I call it the third option ( actually I took this title from Master Eddie Bravo, ever heard of him ? 🙂  )

Sad News

It’s pretty simple. In modern MMA, you can break down the game in three phases :

  1. the no contact phase, which would be the striking part
  2. the stand-up contact phase, this would be the wrestling part (referred as clinching)
  3. the ground phase, aka the mop phase (it’s a joke don’t get too crazy yet )

Grappling arts have faded in Mixed Martial Arts this past decade. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu have been the target of countless criticisms from the pro MMA community along the years.
A brief summary of those could be:

  • The way fights are scored nowadays don’t favor the ground game. To put it simply, whoever is on top is winning the fight in the eyes of the judges.
  • Some BJJ fighters don’t second-guess themselves, and keep the gi while training for a MMA fight ( I am going to take some flack for this one)
  • Every newcomer is now bounded to learn the basics of jiu-jitsu before entering their first mma fight. (they are basically cross-training)
  • Last but not least, a big gap has been dug between Sport Jiu-Jitsu and the reality of a MMA fight.
  • Most of the schools don’t train the self-defense aspect anymore. ( That one hurt me )


So If you manage to get good at just one of those three phases, I am telling you right now, you are about to enter a world of pain facing another human being who managed to get good at two of them.
So what to do then, when you have to face this wrestling/striking guy? ( basically those beasts from the easts)

Pull guard

Yep you read it right my man, this is one of the most under-appreciated option out there: Just pull guard. Contrary to most MMA enthusiasts’ belief, pulling guard doesn’t necessarilly mean pulling the closed guard. No !!

A more accurate definition would be : A concised game of body positioning that leads to the control of my opponent movement. In the end there is more to just one kind of guard out there. Possibilities are endless.

Ryan Hall, ultimate fighter season 22 winner, uses his expertise in the field of jiu-jitsu to lure his opponent into his forte.
His last victime? Gray Maynard ladies and gentlemen. A powerful wrestler with hands of stone who couldn’t figure out the pulling guard puzzle of Mister Hall.

Ryan Hall vs Gray maynard

Shynia Aoki, Judo/BJJ Black Belt is an expert at it against better strikers ( Jz Calvacante) or against powerful wrestlers (Kawajiri).


Imanari Mazakazu facing one of his countless victimt)

Imanari Mazakazu

Ian Entwistle bantamweight nightmare

Paul Sass forgotten genius

Honorable Mentions : Tony Fergusson and Rory McDonald for their Imanari roll this year


What are the boundaries of such a strategy
First of all, you guard have to be lazer sharp! You need to put the time into developping it. It has to become second nature, otherwise it’s a gateway to « in your face land ».
Because your bff the wrestler will take tremendous joy in making you remember what a fist in your mouth sound like. You know who I am talking about, the blanket guy who is going to stay forever in you guard hammering you until the bell rings.
Famous examples:

Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort III (UFC 49)

Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort III

Tim Kennedy vs Roger Gracie (UFC 162)

Yoel Romero vs Ronaldo Jacare Souza (UFC 194)

Yoel Romero vs Ronaldo Jacare Souza

I will greatly stress the importance of having an unsinkable guard. Otherwise it turns into James Cameron’s Titanic. Moreover people with no idea of when a slam is coming, or with giant holes in their guard are usually quick to sink.

Slam 2

Slam 1


A New hope

They are no secrets in martial arts.
You have understood it by now, guard pulling is demanding.
They are no short cuts in this one. Less bankable, this option is still to this day a gray area for most of the MMA community. It’s a new territory for the future generations that will step into the MMA realm.

Like it or not, Jiu-Jitsu is not dead and keep evolving. Hungry newcomers are ready to take over!
Kron Gracie leading the way, has been using this third option in his last four bouts against fierce opponents.

kron gracie 1

kron gracie 2


With the new way jiu-jitsu is heading to, and the always evolving nature of BJJ, are we on the verge of witnessing a new guard revolution trend in MMA?



Single leg X guard

Single leg X guard



50-50 guard

50-50 guard

de la riva – guard

de la riva - guard

If you guys liked it, I strongly recommend Firas Zahabi’s videos on the matter. Vidéo 1 et vidéo 2

What do you think about this third option?
Do you use it in your trainings?
What will be the next guard in MMA?

[Total : 0   Moyenne : 0/5]

Julien J

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