Nick Diaz isn’t just the outspoken and controversial Strikeforce welterweight champion, he’s also made his mark on MMA history with his technical prowress.
We’ve discussed Diaz’ unique application of boxing to MMA in a previous judo chop, but he’s also known for his jiu jitsu skills.
Jonathan Snowden enumerated Diaz’ greatest hits earlier this week and of course he mentioned the famous gogoplata submission of then Pride lightweight champ Takanori Gomi.
At the time it was seen as a ridiculously amazing upset. It was also overturned by the Nevada Athletic Commission only a couple of months later due to Diaz failing a drug test — it was all the reefer.
In 2006 Diaz was a wayward welterweight who had lost three straight to end his first UFC stint and had worked his way back in for two undercard wins before jumping ship to Pride. At the time Dan Stupp of MMA Junkie openly speculated that Diaz was just being brought in to lose to Gomi and make the UFC look bad.
So no one could quite believe it when Diaz not only survived an orbital bone shattering hook from Gomi but came back to submit him with a… gogoplata.
In 2006 the gogoplata was a very rare bird. Only one previous major MMA bout had been won via gogo up to that point and only a couple months before Diaz did it to Gomi. (Shinya Aoki over Joachim Hansen at Pride’s 2006 NYE show).
What is a gogoplata? Let’s ask wikipedia:
The gogoplata is executed from a guard, commonly from a “rubber guard”, where the legs are held very high against the opponent’s upper back. The fighter then slips one foot in front of the opponent’s head and under his chin, locks his hands behind the opponent’s head, and chokes the opponent by pressing his shin or instep against the opponent’s trachea. A variation called a Locoplata is when the bottom man uses his free foot to push up on the choking foot and increase pressure.
Before we talk about the specifics of Diaz’ use of the gogoplata, let’s talk about the move itself. It’s widely associated with Eddie Bravo’s Rubber Guard system because Bravo acolyte Shinya Aoki was the first to pull it off in MMA (*in a widely seen match) and because it’s a natural rubber guard submission.
But it’s actually Nino Schembri who most credit with discovering/popularizing the move. Here’s Kendall Shields breaking down the history of the move for Total MMA:
Aoki is often credited with the first successful application of the gogoplata in MMA, but that doesn’t seem to hold up. The earliest I’m aware of is this Ryusuke “Jack” Uemura bout, posted to Youtube in March 2006, which puts it at least nine months ahead of Aoki/Hansen, but I’ve been unable to find the actual date of the match, the name of the opponent, or even the name of the event (anyone who has any information about that match, I’m all ears).
But this is all pretty recent. Where does the technique itself come from? The gogoplata is perhaps most closely associated right now with Eddie Bravo and his rubber guard system – and it is an impressively thorough and complete system, which you don’t really get a feel for in the five second bursts in which you’ll see UFC fighter X “play rubber guard” by grabbing his own ankle, eating an elbow to the face, and then switching up the plan. It’s become a kind of running joke in the online MMA world to suggest that Eddie Bravo invented or claims to have invented every conceivable grappling position and maneuver, from the halfguard to the gogoplata. But Bravo makes no claim to having invented the gogoplata, only to having developed a guard system that facilitates techniques like it. In Jiu-jitsu Unleashed, Bravo writes, “The Go-Go Plata: I stole this move from jiu-jitsu phenom Nino Schembri because it wasn’t hard for me to see just how often it presented itself during the transition to the Omoplata.”
OK, so where did Schembri pick it up? At least once, Schembri – whose omoplata instuctional is absolutely essential viewing for anyone interested in that technique – has claimed to have “invented” the gogoplata. He later conceded that surely someone, somewhere, at sometime must have done it before him, at least some version of the move.
Shields goes on to discuss some possible judo antecedents of the gogoplata which I highly recommend for grappling nerds.
Now on to the fight.
From K.J. Gould:
Gomi parries a jab and ducks alooping cross to shoot a double and continues driving off the ground as Diaz tries to stop it but Gomi manages to finish it.
But, Gomi makes the cardinal sin of submission grappling and that’s leaving a hand or arm on the ground when inside someone’s guard. Worse still he kept his head up allowing Diaz on flexibility alone to pull his leg in front of his head and wedge his shin under his throat. With a clinch like grip on top and bringing is other leg over Diaz locks the choke in place and Gomi not knowing how to defend taps out.
There are ways of countering the gogoplata (by the way, it’s named that because ‘gogo’ in Portuguese refers to the throat or front part of the throat). If it’s on, a common first line of defense is to simply turn your head and have the chin against your jaw. Also stacking the bottom guy and pivoting away while limp-arming your trapped arm and pulling it free where you could work on a pass, or if you’re inventive apply a form of toehold.
Before it even clears your head, either put your head on the chest or tripod your head on the floor so there is now a barrier stopping the leg from coming over. With the tripod it allows you to pivot again and limp-arm out. Or if he doesn’t have your posture fully locked down posture up.
Patrick Tenney aka Above This Fire
Gomi shoots in on Diaz, turning the corner and getting the takedown but then immediately tries to go for the the right underhook on Diaz; Gomi hadn’t necessarily realized that Diaz had his right leg out and was able to recover guard which leaves Diaz with an overhook on Gomi from within the guard.
Diaz uses that overhook, traps the arm by bringing his left leg up and over the shoulder blade and using his right arm to drag his leg across the head of Gomi and down across his face (this is where Gomi is making a mistake, he doesn’t keep his chin tight enough and he waits far too long to use his left hand to defend his throat from being attacked by the shin).
Moments later Gomi realizes that the shin has popped under his chin and across his throat, he tries to defend with his left arm which is correct to do earlier but now it’s a little late as Diaz controls his posture in the guard and immediately locks his right leg over Gomi in order to prevent Gomi from standing up to try and get out of the choke. Diaz uses both hands and pulls Gomi’s head down into his shin and compresses the adams apple which forces Gomi to tap.
Gomi instantly started falling into Diaz’s trap as soon as he gave Diaz the overhook from guard, after that it was just Diaz going on submission autopilot.
Nino Schembri explaining the move he is widely credited with discovering:
Tenney comments: “Nino is really one of the only guys who ever successfully used it as a good part of the game; even he didn’t hit it all the time but because he is so good at the omoplata he had to learn it as a possible solution to omoplata defense.”
Just for fun here’s an Elvis Sinosic bout from RINGS in 1997 in which he kinda sorta almost pulls off a gogo variation against Kyoshi Tamura (this may have been a worked bout):
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