How Wrestlers Lose In MMA: Basic Chokes

With all the hype about Brock Lesnar's UFC debut this saturday, I thought it would be useful to review the careers of some of…

By: Nate Wilcox | 15 years ago
How Wrestlers Lose In MMA: Basic Chokes
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

With all the hype about Brock Lesnar’s UFC debut this saturday, I thought it would be useful to review the careers of some of the prominent wrestlers in MMA and discuss some of the pitfalls they met in their early days in MMA.

First up, Dan Severn, the trailblazer, the first wrestler to enter MMA, the first to win a UFC tournament, the first to win a UFC championship belt, one of the first to enter the UFC Hall of Fame. But he had some hiccups along the way.

First he met Royce Gracie and discovered the triangle choke (see it here). Then he met Ken Shamrock and learned about the guillotine (see it here).

Here’s how a writer for described the Gracie-Severn fight in 1999:

Royce Gracie, a 180-pound Brazilian jujitsu specialist, was matched against a 275-pound beast named Dan Severn, one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the world and a national champion many times over. In 30 seconds, Severn had grabbed Gracie, flung him to the canvas, and mounted him. For the next 15 minutes, Severn pummeled and elbowed and head-butted the smaller man. Gracie’s face grew drawn, and he squirmed wildly to avoid Severn’s bombardment. Then, all of sudden, Gracie, still lying on his back, saw an opening, wrapped his arms and legs around Severn like a python and choked the giant into submission.

It seems very unlikely that Mir will catch Lesnar in a guillotine — especially one like Shamrock used on Severn that didn’t even involve controlling the opponent’s body. But Mir has won a fight with a triangle before. Will Lesnar make the rookie wrestler mistake of leaving his neck out there? Will Frank Mir surive the onslaught and “choke the giant into submission”? We’ll see on Saturday.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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