Matt Hughes surprised a lot of people, myself included, when he knocked down and then choked out BJJ ace Ricardo Almeida at UFC 117. Like most of you, I have nubs wrestling knowledge and didn’t really know exactly what I was seeing.
Josh Barnett was the first to correctly diagnose the move on twitter:
I see MMA reporters and sites are still struggling with what to call the hold Hughes used last night… IT”S A DAVE SCHULTZ FRONT HEADLOCK
Yahoo’s resident wrestling geek Maggie Hendricks further advanced the cause of knowledge:
Matt Hughes choked Ricardo Almeida out cold at UFC 117 with a classic wrestling move, the front headlock. After the bout, Hughes said that it’s a move that Almeida probably hasn’t seen before. That is likely true, but wrestling fans everywhere recognized the move. The front headlock was perfected by Dave Schultz, one of wrestling’s most dominant athletes and an Olympic gold medalist in 1984.
During the Los Angeles Games, Schultz’s headlock was so hazardous that referees were warning him as soon as he sunk his arms in on an opponent.
Along with his brother Mark, Schultz was known as one of the more brutal wrestlers of his era. Though Mark defeated Gary Goodridge at UFC 9 in his one MMA bout, Dave never had the chance to transition to MMA. He was murdered in 1996. Hughes’ headlock win was a fitting tribute to a member of the wrestling family who was taken too soon.
But it was BE reader KJ Gould who really breaks it down in his FanPost “Technical Wrestling #1”. I’m going to be swiping his gifs and commentary in the full entry. It’s dynamite stuff and really shows the technique and skill involved in this wrestling move.
Take it away K.J.:
When legally used in wrestling it’s an excellent control point that allows for setups to takedowns such a single leg takedown on the same side as the head in the above picture.
You can also arm-drag of sorts and take the back – in the above picture you would go counter-clockwise.
However I’m sure what everyone here is interested in is how it can be used as a choke.
(Dave Schultz illegally chokes a guy at the 1984 Olympics. In some areas the arm-in headlock choke is known as the Dave Schultz Headlock. The Schultz brothers became notorious for chokes and Sakuraba style Kimura’s aka Double Wrist Locks in wrestling).
As explained in this gif, Hughes immediately goes for an arm-in front headlock control. It’s difficult to tell from this angle but he may have Almeida’s chin in a chinstrap grip while is other hand looks like it might be going to block Almeida’s knee to stop him standing back up.
Fairly self explanatory. It’s difficult to see what grip is being used, but it’s likely a C-grip / finger-grip or a gable grip / palm grip. Hughes maintains a straight back throughout. [NOTE from Nate: K.J. confirms that it’s a gable grip from the photo in the full post.]
Hughes tripods again to put more weight on Almeida’s neck and shoulders, rotating Almeida’s head enough for the blade of his forearm to compress the carotid artery. Hughes shifts his hips down to add more pressure but Almeida is already out and the ref is already moving in to stop the fight.
As you can see, the sub wasn’t pulled off with brute force as a lot are reporting, but was largely down to Hughes’ knowledge of weight distribution, leverage and hip movement which comes from years of wrestling.
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