I will write about some technical aspects of what Khabib Nurmagomedov did at UFC 254.
I’m going to talk about Khabib’s triangle choke sequence. I think it’s a pretty smart sequence, especially in the context of MMA.
Let’s start from the point where Khabib takes down Justin Gaethje and gets to the mount position.
He immediately sets up arm triangle from there.
If I were in this position and wanted to finish my opponent with arm triangle, I would move to my right-hand side and take a sharp angle (about 45 degrees) as pointed in the photo above.
There can be different ways of finishing arm triangle, but I suppose anyone skilled would move to their right hand side in this situation.
I searched for a good arm triangle choke video on YouTube, and the first video I opened tells you exactly how I do it as well.
If you’re curious about the finishing mechanics of arm triangle, check out this video by Neil Melanson.
Khabib could have gone for arm triangle this way, and even if he couldn’t finish Justin, I don’t think it would have been that bad for Khabib. In that case, he could have gone for a back take from there.
But Khabib releases arm triangle.
This positioning by Khabib is pretty neat.
At this point, Justin’s right arm is trapped between Khabib’s body and the cage.
If you want to catch your opponent with triangle choke from the mount position, you have to control both of your opponent’s arms well without losing your position.
You control one of their arms in such a way that they will have to raise their arm. You can use your arm or leg as an under hook against that arm of your opponent.
But Khabib doesn’t need to do any of these things because Khabib’s body and the cage already trap Justin’s arm.
By the way, this position may have given Justin some false sense of security.
Even though Justin’s right arm is sticking out as if it’s ready to be armbar-ed, there’s no space for Khabib to go for armbar from this particular situation because of the cage.
Justin may not have to worry about his right arm (yet) … but he probably did worry about his left arm.
Khabib has some space on his right hand side, and he could do armbar in that direction after all.
So, Justin tries to hide his left arm.
At that moment, Khabib steps over to clear that arm away while being heavy on top of Justin.
He hasn’t had to adjust his mount position much because his positioning has taken care of everything so far.
Now, the most obvious step for Khabib after stepping over Justin’s arm is to go for triangle choke, but I noticed some subtle things.
If you look at the photo above, it looks like Khabib is using his leg to create a frame between Justin’s body and the cage.
This way, Justin cannot turn to his right side and close the space between him and the cage.
Khabib needs this space for triangle choke. In fact, he creates some more space and securing that space by posting his left arm/elbow on the cage …
Now that Khabib has some space to execute triangle choke, he falls on his back and secures triangle.
Khabib’s triangle looks tight, but he makes sure to tighten it even further by adjusting his position.
Khabib takes more or less of a perpendicular angle. This angle is what Ryan Hall recommended in his legendary triangle choke DVDs, by the way.
I believe this angle is the best angle for triangle choke, because it gives you the strongest and most efficient finishing power for triangle choke.
In MMA, this positioning will make it harder for your opponent to hit or lift you as well.
Overall, Khabib’s positioning was on point.
I’ll surely try this sequence as soon as I can.