Former Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson (10-4) scored the third submission of her pro MMA career Saturday at UFC 243 and did so in unique fashion — with an arm-in triangle choke off of her own back. The native Australian is known for her dangerous stand-up striking but showed dominant grappling on the feet and on the mat against Zarah Fairn Dos Santos (6-3), snapping what was a three-fight winning streak for the French fighter.
Anderson’s coach and UFC lightweight James Krause was not among those surprised at Anderson’s impressive jiu-jitsu.
“People don’t seem to think she’s got really good jiu-jitsu, but she does. In the past she just never had the confidence in it, and also, when your striking is so good, why the f--- would you need to show your ground skills,” he told Yahoo Sports.
“In this fight she was put in a spot where she needed to use it and that was a high-level transition.”
Within a minute after the fight had begun, Anderson used a body-lock to take Dos Santos to the mat. Once on the mat, she took the full-mount and rained strikes down before getting reversed to her own back.
In the process, however, Anderson managed to secure a triangle-choke — weaving her left leg around Dos Santos’ right arm and over her right shoulder. “If you suck at BJJ, that doesn’t happen,” Krause continued.
He’s right, of course. Anderson finished the choke moments later and her coach says she improvised well and got all the key elements of the strangulation down.
— UFC (@ufc) October 6, 2019
There are many different types of triangle-chokes, but many of them involve pulling one’s opponent’s inside arm (many traditional triangle-chokes involve forcing one of your opponent’s arms outside of the parameters of your own legs while keeping the other inside of them) across their center-line, so that carotid arteries on that side of their neck pressed on by their own shoulder. The opposite side carotid area of the neck is pressed on by the offensive fighter’s own leg.
Often times, the offensive fighter’s legs are best wrapped directly on the back of their opponent’s neck and head, as high up as possible. In the case of Anderson’s choke, she didn’t have to move her opponent’s arm across the center-line or lock her “figure-four” leg wrap particularly higher up on the back so that it pressed mostly on neck and head of Dos Santos.
Anderson also finished the submission and got the “tap out” with her right hand locked underneath her left leg. Krause believes the hand position was a byproduct of Anderson’s earlier grip on the lat of Dos Santos while transitioning from top-mount to a triangle-choking position on her back.
“I’d love to say that was intentional and something we always work on, but I think Megan just got her hand trapped under there in the moment while executing the transition, and once it was there she adjusted,” he explained.
“Once the hand was in there, there was no need to get it out because she already had everything you needed to finish the choke. If you think about it, there are three things you need to finish a triangle choke: You need to cut the space, control posture, and get an angle. Megan got her angle by going under the right leg of Dos Santos, and was already controlling her posture.”
Whether or not it was intentional, Anderson’s right arm position may have very well helped further break down the posture of her opponent, as well as reduce breathing space around her neck with the added width of her gloved wrist and fist in between her own legs and the neck of Dos Santos.
“If her hand position did anything extra, it likely cut the space down,” Krause allowed.
In any case, Anderson showed that she’s got slickness and savvy on the ground in addition to her technical stand-up striking. Whatever she’s been working on at Krause’s Glory MMA & Fitness is working, and the young former champ has a new highlight from her competitive return to Australia to show for it.
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