Judo Chop: The UFC’s Nick Pace and the No Arm Triangle or ‘Pace Choke’

We kind of took the Christmas holidays off as far as Judo Chops go. Apologies. We've got three fights to get through before we…

By: Nate Wilcox | 13 years ago
Judo Chop: The UFC’s Nick Pace and the No Arm Triangle or ‘Pace Choke’
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

We kind of took the Christmas holidays off as far as Judo Chops go. Apologies.

We’ve got three fights to get through before we get to UFC 125 so I better get cracking.

Today’s featured move is either an innovative bit of jiu jitsu wizardry or a technically questionable move that would only work against fairly inexperienced grapplers.

Nick Pace choked out Nick Campuzano on the undercard of the The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale at 4:33 of the third round with a submission previously unseen in MMA. It or moves like have been called a no arm triangle, the no gi rubber guillotine, the invisible collar, the leg brabo, the Ninja choke, the Pilory Choke and now the Pace choke.

Donald Cerrone tried something very similar (video around 2:20 of the 2nd round) against Jamie Varner at WEC 38 in the second round. There are instances of the hold being used successfully in grappling competition by one Karl Nemeth. We’ll look at the latter in the full entry.

After the fight Pace said he improvised the choke but it’s hard to believe he had never tried the move in practice.

It’s a hold that Pace pulled from the Rubber Guard — the foundation of Eddie Bravo’s controversial 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system.  Score another one for Bravo and the rubber guard.

Many grappling traditionalists heap scorn on Bravo’s style and the Pace choke isn’t going to change their minds. One of my theories is that in combat novelty is inherently advantageous. So every move shouldn’t be judged against every other move as if everyone will be fighting based on equal knowledge. I think it will be increasingly to the advantage of top level Mixed Martial Artists to have a set of trick plays in their deck. The Pace Choke is certainly that.

I pulled in K.J. Gould of Cage Side Seats to help me research the move and Patrick Tenney, aka Above the Fire breaks it down and discusses the pros and cons in the full entry. We’ll also watch some videos from some 10th Planet JJ grapplers (Bravo students) and others who have discovered the hold.


Gif by Caposa via the UG.
Here’s Patrick Tenney:

I’d like to first start off by saying that this is not a technique I would recommend, nor is it something that will be more than a 1-100 shot; if there’s one minute left in a fight, you’re getting your ass handed to you and you find yourself in this position… by all means go for it; but honestly what we’re looking at here is more of a failure of fundamentals by Campuzano rather than a triumph of superior technique by Pace.

Campuzano dives into Pace’s guard and starts his first mistake by diving into what looks to be the start of a low guard pass but he leaves the opportunity for a triangle , Campuzano starts to correct his error by keeping his arms in tight and passing Pace’s left leg through and out so he can hit side control (kind of ignoring Pace’s right leg which has lock down over the back of his head (Will believes he is safe because he’s essentially gotten into a low pass and prevented Pace from being able to figure four lock the legs and execute a proper triangle.

Pace crushes his leg down tight over Campuzano’s neck, Campuzano tries at first to shrug and pass to that side I believe, but it looks like he gets stuck inside of Pace’s hips (can’t be sure what exactly has happened here) Instead of continuing his pass and moving around the left side of Pace, Campuzano stays put in a broken down posture without his chin tucked tightly; Pace is able to get under the chin with his right arm and dig through so he can undergrab his right shin after he uses his left arm to tighten the leg down further. The best description of this choke would be a variation on a collar choke (in the gi) but using your own leg as the base of the choke. Pace is able to finish but locking a gable grip overtop of his leg, pulling his leg down and his left arm in tight, crushing Campuzano’s windpipe. From a technical stand point, it’s a neat idea, but it’s one of those things that just requires EVERYTHING to go right for it to work, you can even see looking back at one of Donald Cerrone’s fights not too long ago that he tries a variation on this idea repeatedly without success; it’s just not a solid technique to rely on in any situation but an absolute do or die emergency moment; it gives up the guard pass and against an opponent who has betterposture awareness it’s just going to end poorly for you.

Here’s Patrick Tenney’s commentary on this video:

Above is a video of what this particular grappler calls a pillory choke, it demonstrates some of the fundamentals of what occurred between Pace and Campuzano, however even in the video one can tell that it almost requires a willing opponent for the technique to work; to be completely honest I just think Campuzano had a brain fart at the wrong moment and Pace received a revelation from the gods of grappling or something at the same time. Sorry for sounding so negative, but honestly I can’t fathom getting caught in this without having a gi on and even then I’m pretty sure it’d end in a guard pass 99 out of 100 times.

Photo by Scott Petersen via mmaweekly.com

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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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