Dan Faggella is a competitor, BJJ writer, and owner of the Black Diamond Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Wakefield, RI. His passion lies in teaching, whether through articles, classes, or video. Learn more about his MMA academy online at www.BlackDiamondMMA.com
When someone slaps on any kind of leg lock, it’s easy to get jittery and begin to panic. Countless thoughts run through your head in a millisecond knowning how painful this sequence can end up being. Nine times out of ten, the panic button gets slammed and the fight or match ends in a submission victory for the other guy.
The one time that it didn’t occur, however, was back at UFC 124 in December, 2010. An undercard fight that featured two bright lightweight prospects, Charles Oliveira and Jim Miller, would be one of the bright spots of the night.
The Kneebar Setup
Miller, a fixture in the UFC’s lightweight division, was welcoming the then undefeated Charles Oliveira to the next level of competition. The back and forth bout reached a high point when Charles latched on for dear life when he saw one of Miller’s legs present itself for the taking.
Understanding the dyer situation, Miller slightly began to panic a bit. While doing so, he came close to giving up an arm for the arm bar, and I’m sure the slick BJJ ace, Oliveira, could have found a few more moves in his bag of tricks as well.
Quickly regaining his wits, Miller did an excellent job of stacking up Charles which made it more and more difficult for him to execute a proper heel hook. Continuing to stack Charles, Jim was able to gain the upper hand and regain his wits. Now, suddenly, it was Oliveira that was in trouble!
Seeing his opportunity arise, Miller was able to spin out of the move, and not only did he just save himself, he was able to spin into a toe hold! He went from being on the verge of losing to now being in control, with Oliveira being the one in trouble.
Obtaining the hold and beginning to apply pressure, Miller held on as Oliveira sat up and did his best and sent multiple hammer fists to the ribs of Miller. This didn’t faze the New Jersey native, as he forced Oliveira to submit!
The kneebar itself is seen as the “unicorn” of leg locks in MMA because of how very rare it is. However, with the popularity of leg locks on the rise, I believe we’ll see a lot more dynamic leg lock setups in professional MMA matches. I’ve written recently on Josh Vogel’s blog about how dynamic kneebars are finding their way into top-level grappling, as well.
Never Give Up, Never Surrender
Miller showed some guts in this fight! This actually ended up being very significant for a few reasons: this began a three fight stretch where Oliveira would go 0-2-1 and send him to a new weight class and it made Miller a main stay in the 155 lbs. title picture.
It’s funny how just one moment in time can change someone’s career. While Miller went on to get wins over Melvin Guillard and engaged in an instant classic with Joe Lauzon, his composure against Oliveira is one that will make his highlight reel for years to come. Job well done, sir!