Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: The Half Guard Sweeps of Wilson Reis Upend Shad Lierley at Bellator XIV

Bellator’s second season has featured some of the more technically interesting fights I’ve seen this year. The second show of the season…

By: Nate Wilcox | 14 years
Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: The Half Guard Sweeps of Wilson Reis Upend Shad Lierley at Bellator XIV
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Bellator’s second season has featured some of the more technically interesting fights I’ve seen this year. The second show of the season was no exception as featherweight Wilson Reis showed a dizzying array of sweeps from deep half guard that repeatedly put his opponent — wrestler Shad Lierley on his back.

The techniques that Reis used so reflect the dramatic advances made at the higher levels of jiu jitsu over the past decade and a half. They’re only now beginning to make it to MMA. While Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s amazing array of sweeps from half guard hinted at what is possible, the next wave of guard innovations are a dramatic step forward.

I will be the first to admit that I’m a good decade behind the latest BJJ theory, so by all means go out and learn more elsewhere, just please come back to our comments and share what you find or already know.

Here’s a little bit about the Deep Half Guard position from the esteemed Grapple Arts site:

In the Deep Half Guard you are – as the name implies – deep underneath your opponent’s hips. Typically you are trying to keep your body turned onto its side, and can control either your opponent’s hip (1st picture) or your opponent’s thigh (2nd picture) with your top arm. The legs can do a variety of things, including triangling around the opponent’s leg, butterfly hooking underneath it and more.

The Deep Half Guard is primarily used for sweeping your opponent and has very few submission attacks available from it. This position and some of the techniques associated with it was the subject of a Grappling Tip post on our Blog. To date it has not found a lot of application in mixed martial arts competition, probably for fear of getting punched in the face. Perhaps a future competitor will yet come along and offer some new insight into using this position in an MMA context.

Reis definitely showed how to use this position in MMA at Bellator XIV. The secret was really getting in and out of the position as fast as possible. Reis’ attacks were a blur to the untrained eye, all that was immediately clear was that one second he’s on his back under Lierley and the next moment Reis is on top.

I asked BE reader AboveThisFire to break down the moves gif by gif in the full entry. This will spare him the effort of correcting my mistakes in the comment and give you, the reader, more insight to the techniques on display.

I’d also recommend checking out Marcelo Garcia’s book The X Guard to learn more about innovative guard play.

SBN coverage of Bellator XIV

Gifs by Chris Nelson.

Take it away AboveThisFire:

In the first gif we see Reis initiating an elevator sweep from half guard to set up an x-guard or deep half (he’s got two options depending on how Shad’s left leg reacts to the right leg raise putting him off balance). He could also try to finish a full sweep from here but it’s higher risk.





Because Shad had to post the left leg in a different position after Reis used the elevator setup to put him off balance, Reis is able to lock around Shad’s left leg and execute a single leg stand up (a la Marcelo Garcia) and then he just tips him into the high single takedown while sweeping the standing foot out as well.




Reis is executing a partial setup to go to deep half (full deep half is not a good idea in mma… lets you get your face punced in pretty easy) but he hooks Shad’s leg to open it up and create space/put Shad off balance, Reis tris to shoot out the backdoor hooking his arm up and over on the hip trying to spin out all the way and execute another sweep or single leg stand up.




In the fourth gif Reis shoots the entire deep half and goes for what’s called a “Homer Simpson Sweep” (or Three Stooges sweep, named after Curly (or Homer) running in a circle while laying on the ground, which is essentially the motion of the sweep from deep half. Jeff Glover has youtube vids for more.





Here Reis simply unbalancing Shad, trying to grab a foot, Shad doesn’t want his foot taken so he moves directly in front of Reis giving Reis butterfly guard with double unders.





Immediately, Reis pops his legs out behind him from butterfly, posts his feet, drives forward with the double underhooks and executes a normal bear hug type takedown.




Essentially all of his stuff is half guard, x-guard and deep half are just specific half guard positions. Reis is using his hooks (feet) to move Shad’s legs off balance and then he sweeps/stands or improves position.

It might be worth checking out some deep half guard videos on youtube, or some of Marcelo Garcia using the X guard to stand up with a single just for further illumination.

I didn’t have as much luck finding the videos I was looking for to illustrate these points so please pop them into the comments if you’ve got ’em.

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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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