Judo Chop: C.B. Dollaway Gets the Elbow Lift Guillotine

While it's true that UFC 119 was marred by a lousy headlining fight, the undercard included some sparkling action. In particular, C.B. Dollaway's quick…

By: Nate Wilcox | 13 years ago
Judo Chop: C.B. Dollaway Gets the Elbow Lift Guillotine
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While it’s true that UFC 119 was marred by a lousy headlining fight, the undercard included some sparkling action. In particular, C.B. Dollaway’s quick submission over veteran Joe Doerksen impressed everyone watching. 

With his third submission win, including one using the Peruvian Necktie, Dollaway is showing flashes of evolving into a Matt Hughes or Jake Shields style wrestler/grappler

As any reader of this series knows, I don’t train myself and have no martial arts or sport combat experience whatsoever. As such I’m always on the lookout for bright students of the game who can explain what I’m seeing. Today’s guest is Andrew Foster, who has been studying No-Gi submission grappling and BJJ since 2005. He trained at the Chapel Hill Quest Center under Hardee Merritt (purple belt under Royce Gracie) and is currently a blue belt at Evolutiion MMA in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Our BJJ is from the Nova Uniao lineage. My teachers are Jeremy Owens (black belt) and Dave French (brown belt), and Neal Zumbro (brown belt) under BJ Penn’s BJJ coach Renato “Charuto” Verissimo.

Here’s Andrew describing the guillotine variation that C.B. Dollaway used to such deadly effect against Joe Doerksen:

The hip drop/elbow lift/leg over the shoulder/side crunch/Marcelo Guillotine is absolutely the best variation of the choke in existence. You’re squeezing the neck very tight, but the elbow flare and lift pulls the forearm right up into the trachea. It cuts off the blood, and you can sleep from it, but the primary action for this Guillotine is attacking the trachea. Matt Arroyo showed the choke and had a student puke on him. Most people tap immediately. There’s really no time to think or ride out the choke once it’s on. For someone to be able to even stand the pain for 3-6 seconds to even go to sleep would be a great feet.

The elbow lift accomplishes a few things. It prevents the opponent from bulldozing into you to relieve the pressure. That works with the old-school full guard Guillotine, which I haven’t caught anyone with in forever, and I do think it will be phased out as time passes. The elbow lift can also be used to help keep someone on all fours if you are on your knees setting up the choke. Leo Vieira did this beautifully against Ryan Hall at ADCC 2009. Ryan was on his knees in the front headlock, and Leo was on his knees. He lifted the elbow up and over Ryan’s back so Ryan couldn’t posture up. Then Leo threw the leg over the shoulder and the tap came almost immediately.

The elbow lift also makes it so that the choke can be finished anywhere. In a full guard Guillotine, if your opponent jumps his body to your left side, and you have his head under your right arm, you lose the choke. With the elbow flared up, they are typically completely on the choking side of your body (let’s pretend the right side again). If they do manage to jump over you before you can throw your left leg over their back/shoulder, they will still be in the choke as they land. If you finish from the mount, the elbow lift allows you to post your forehead on the mat when finishing from the mount, giving you more stability.

Those are some of the details about the workings of the choke that make it so special. Literally all you have to do is get control of their head, and then get to the front headlock. This Guillotine can be finished from so many positions it’s scary. The elbow lift is almost as secure as getting the non-choking arm behind the neck in the Rear Naked Choke.

Let’s look at the action in the full entry. We’ll also look at how Sean Sherk managed to escape Evan Dunham’s guillotine chokes, a grappling battle between Marcelo Garcia and Jake Shields, and Marcelo Garcia and Matt Arroyo demo’ing the choke so effectively that his demo partner vomits. 

Gifs by Chris Nelson

Here’s Andrew Foster breaking down the action:

Here C.B. throws a right lateral shin kick to Joe’s ribs. Joe catches the kick, and it appears that C.B. is attempting to turn away and pull his leg free, but Joe follows up by sweeping the back of C.B.’s support leg for the take down. It’s hard to tell what caused Joe’s initial forward fall, maybe overcommitment or simply the angle at which C.B. fell. Either way, C.B.’s high grappling IQ allows him to turn into Joe, forcing him up against the fence with minimal resistance. C.B. has a very clear sense of where their bodies are positioned in space, and this lets him keep his cool to take the top position with Joe against the fence.

C.B. shifts his hips to square up with Joe. C.B. is momentarily in a postion to drop to side control or attack from knee-on-belly, but Joe re-shoots from his knees. C.B.’s wonderful wrestling skills allow him to square off with a solid sprawl, and he has many options to attack from the front headlock, before Joe get to his feet and presses C.B. up against the fence. It is important to note that as Joe re-shoots, C.B. takes the time to create enough distance between himself and Joe to shoot for a right underhook. So even though Joe has C.B. against the fence, C.B. is still in a neutral position because he has gotten an underhook under Joe’s left armpit.

Here C.B. immediately secures a front headlock. It is hard to tell whether he secured the headlock because Joe was going for the takedown, or whether C.B. initiated the front headlock and Joe decided to go for a takedown afterwards, This all happens in a split second. Joe turns to take C.B. to the ground, but C.B. uses his right overhook and his grip around Joe’s head to create an arm-in Guillotine choke. C.B. uses his left leg to aid the momentum of Joe’s on take down to sweep Joe overhead. At the end of the GIF we can begin to see C.B. turn onto his his right side to lock in the closed guard.

Sensing that he his in danger, Joe does a very good job of trying to jump to the left side of C.B.’s body. In a traditional, closed-guard guillotine, jumping your body to the side away from your trapped head will prevent you from being choked. It will also give you the options to attack with a Kimura on their choking arm, or even try the famous Von Flue choke. C.B.is obviously well versed in the Guillotine and traps Joe’s jumping body with his left leg, preventing the jump that would cancel out the Guillotine. From here, C.B. locks in the full closed guard and is ready to submit Joe with the arm-in Guillotine. Joe knows he is in danger and wisely posts on his feet, driving his shoulder into C.B.’s chest to help take the pressure off his trachea and arteries. It is interesting to note that when Joe jumped to escape C.B. closing his guard, his right leg came very close to the fence. We may have been in for an interesting scramble if the fence had blocked Joe’s jump.

At this point, both fighters had been in the arm-in Guillotine for some time. This Guillotine is harder to finish than most unless you’re Jake Shields. It appears that C.B. wants to go from the arm-in to the arm-out Guillotine, which will allow him to put an insane amount of pressure on the neck/arteries/trachea. He moves to his side, which is smart because the oblique-crunch Guillotine is arguably of the most powerful. All C.B.needs to do is free his left hand and reconnect it to his right hand, but in front of Joe’s shoulder to create the arm-out Guillotine. This hip/side-drop gives a split second opening for Joe, giving him a chance to try to jump to the safe side again. C.B. catches Joe’s right leg with his foot, preventing the jump. Joe ends up almost doing a cartwheel, but landing on his knees. As he lands, C.B. has the arm out Guillotine and his left elbow is lifting. This is KEY! The elbow lift Guillotine does a few things. It prevents your opponent from pressing their weight into you to create space for their neck. It gives the fighter doing the Guillotine more leverage to create a more powerful choke, causing an almost immediate tap. it also negates the safety of being able to jump to the safe side. There is no “safe side” when the elbow is lifted in the Guillotine.

Now that the elbow is lifted, C.B.’s main goal is going to be to get his left leg IN FRONT of Joe’s right shoulder. He attempts this but Joe front flips in an attempt to escape. C.B. gets back to his knees, posts his left foot, and almost does a baseball slide motion with his right leg bent to get to his side. Notice the lifting left elbow throughout t the process. As he slides, Joe flips once again. The third time proves to be the charm. C.B. manages to not only get his left leg in front of Joe’s shoulder, but he also blocks Joe’s right leg with his foot, preventing another roll/flip. From here, the Guillotine is all but finished.

C.B. has really followed Marcelo Garcia (the master who reinvented the Guillotine) by following the Guillotine through until the very end. C.B.’s best bet here is to finish the choke by going to the full mount. C.B.’s kept his left leg in front of Joe’s right shoulder, so when he floats over to the mount, he has even more leverage to finish the choke. Notice how C.B. is not posting on his knees from the mount and arching his back to finish to choke. His right foot is posted along with his own forehead. This is much more powerful than staying on your knees and arching your back. Also, if somehow Joe’s head popped out, he would have the full mount and even a strong chance to set-up a Triangle choke from the mount.

On the left is a bonus gif showing the choke from another angle. 






Here’s Andrew Foster again explaining how Sean Sherk escaped from Evan Dunham’s guillotine at UFC 119:

In the first GIF we see Sherk in Dunham’s Guillotine while both fighters are standing. Dunham has his left elbow lifted like the Marcelo Garcia style Guillotine. Although Sherk could still go to sleep from this pressure, Dunham’s forearm cutting like a knife into Sherk’s throat is the primary threat to Sherk tapping. Sherk is in luck, as his body is not controlled since both fighters are standing. Sherk explosively turns to his left, until his chin is in line with Dunham’s elbow. As Sherk turns, he is still in danger, and is having a hard time getting his throat off Dunham’s forearm. It is not until his right hip touches the mat that he appears to be safe from the choke. Although he is out of the frying pan, he is in danger for the North/South choke, also famously referred to as the Monson choke. Jeff Monson made this choke famous at UFC 57, and Marcelo Garcia used the choke at the 2007 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships to score the Gold medal. He also used the choke twice in a row at the 2010 Mundials (World BJJ Championships).

It appears that Dunham might be thinking about going for the North/South choke. He was definitely in the perfect position to do so. There are several reasons why Dunham may have elected to not pursue the North/South choke, discussing it here would be mere speculation. Instead, Dunham transitions to the seatbelt grip and elects to take Sherk’s back. Regardless, this is a very smooth transition from an excellent grappler.




Marcelo Garcia explaining his Guillotine:


Here is a link to Marcelo Garcia’s Guillotine as taught by Matt Arroyo, who learned the choke from Marcelo personally: He talks about floating over the mount also.

Here’s a Marcelo Garcia HL video with plenty of his trademark guillotines:


Here’s Marcelo Garcia using the exact same finish on Jake Shields in a submission grappling match:

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. 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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