The Severe Spotlight: Jailton Almeida

UFC 279 was chaos. Through chaos, a production of beauty can occur. Nate Diaz’s fairy-tale was just that, nestled into the Las Vegas dunes is a portion of history, where Nate Diaz finally won; in the most Nate Diaz fashion. With the card being headlined by two veterans, two men on the downward lines of the career apex there was bound to be duality – and duality there was. There is a beauty to the death of a career and the explosion of birth to someone else’s.  

Jailton Almeida’s career is exploding with the same ferocity that the synapses in his fast twitch muscle fibres do as they propel him through his opponents’ hips, lofting them into the sky, to be dumped to the canvas, sans parachute – in a world they are encountering for the first time.

Almeida made his third appearance in the UFC, when he fought replacement Anton Turkalj. Almeida was scheduled to compete against Shamil Abdurakhimov, however the Russian fighter was unable to get a visa.

It took 12 seconds before Almeida made his first shot to the hips. He took a leg kick, gave a leg kick, feinted a flying knee, which he turned mid-air into a swiping right hand and then as Turkalj had been pushed back to the fence, made his approach to the hips. No resistance followed from the Swedish debutant, Almeida’s penetration drive had been too fast, and too strong. Hands clasped behind the hamstrings; Almeida had pulled the legs from under Turkalj instantly.

He immediately then turned his hips into a smash pass position, this lofts the legs off the ground. For Turkalj to escape, he must have his feet connected to the ground, the shelf that Almeida had created with his own legs, restricted just that. Turkalj is forced to attempt to get some purchase on something and opts for a grapevine of his right leg to the calf of Almeida. This forces Turkalj’s hips to turn in, allowing Almeida to find the sweet nectar that is knee to hip connection, effectively moving himself directly to mount.

Whilst working from his bodylock to secure lower body position, Almeida had switched to a handcuff grip. This grip is debilitating for a couple of reasons, primarily it is a grip that cannot be stripped conventionally – often for you to strip you need to remove your arms from the elbows, exposing inside position, or you need to use your secondary hand, which offers a variety of other options. Almeida is using a two-on-one variation, committing both of his hands to the handcuff. This allows Turkalj to fend off the primary hook that Almeida is trying to feed but does not allow him the ability to escape the position.

In this instance, Turkalj does well to use this two-on-one commitment to begin to climb to his feet and does a great job of keeping knee and elbow connection, so that Almeida is denied his hook. However, as soon as Almeida feels the hips of his opponent rising, he switches to a regular back bodylock, vaults Turkalj into the air, slamming him belly down to the mat, and taking his primary hip ride hook in anyway.

Here we see the new meta of MMA grappling control. Almeida has exposed Turkalj’s back but isn’t attacking it in a traditional sense. He is using the hip and thigh ride and the claw grip as methods of control. The hip and thigh ride are self-explanatory, Almeida’s hips are heavy on the hips of Turkalj and Almeida is looking to climb his chin as a staple over the thigh of Turkalj, restricting the movements with which Turkalj can turn his hips, and thus improve his position. The claw grip is the interesting one. Almeida is opting to take a grip that resembles a reverse underhook, but instead of grabbing the same side shoulder, he is taking a cross shoulder grip. In this situation he has a underhook under the right lat, with a grip of the far left shoulder. This grip allows you cross body control, restricting turning ability, but also all of the great uses of a traditional underhook. Equally it allows you access for a handcuff setup.

Almeida opts for the handcuff once again, with a tiny additional detail. That detail is he is hamstring curling his legs, which is forcing hip pressure into Turkalj whilst at the same time, shelfing his legs at the same time. We see another attribute to the claw grip as Almeida hops to a back mount, which is that ability to stretch out your opponent, by just opening the elbow of the underhook, Almeida uses that motion to remove the leg shelf and take his position in a dominant back mount.

All these dilemmas are designed and executed with the intention of you giving up your back, and Almeida is in no rush to take it. The smartest grapplers allow you to build yourself up into a position where you give a submission, there is no need to hunt it; only just to continue to close off all avenues of chaos remission before leading you to the door at the end of the street, laden with grime and heavy handled.

Some more minutes of debilitating pressure ensued, until Turkalj once again managed to find his way to his feet, however this was again, short lived. Almeida began to look for a more traditional Renzo Gracie style far hook feed and to climb the back of Turkalj, as this was not working, Almeida turned the corner and used that hook in a reverse broomstick takedown. The half guard of Turkalj was then quickly destroyed with a tight far lat grip, and Almeida shin stapling the near arm, landing some shots for good measure.

Almeida finds his way to a dominant head and arm grip, smashes the hips, and passes to the mount. There is beauty in the finishing sequence also, primarily in the fluidity and non-commitment to a specific finish from Almeida. Initially Turkalj quickly swam in one of his hooks and looked to turn, Almeida allowed the turn and already had a single choking arm, in and under the neck. His body alignment was off, so he relinquished the grip and looked for a head and arm choke. Quickly realising that his body position is too high, so opts to posture and land shots, knowing that this will illicit one of two reactions, either an acceptance that the fight is over, or to give the back.

Turkalj quickly gives the back, and during that transition, Almeida slips the choking hand in. He opts to slip the right hand under the neck, simply because he had placed so much weight on the right hand side, that Turkalj’s arm was stuck underneath him, rendering it useless for defence. Turkalj looked to fight the choking arm with a single hand, failed and tapped.

Fantastic grappling from start to finish from Almeida. Buckle in folks, as we have a special fighter on our hands.