Jiu Jitsu advocates have long awaited the arrival of a new-wave BJJ star to the Octagon. André Galvão had a promising start to his MMA career, three armbars in the first three fights, before going .500 over the next four: a win and a loss by decisions, a win and a loss by knockout. He has alluded to a return to the cage, but no fight has been scheduled. Marcus Almeida, “Buchecha,” has also teased a switch from Jiu Jitsu to MMA. We can hope to see him throwing punches in 2016.
Last September, Ultimate Fighter fans were quick to learn the name Ryan Hall. Finishing his opponent in less than a minute, Hall earned his spot in the TUF house by executing an Imanari Roll to the 50/50 position for a heel hook. Afterwards, he baffled the world with his training doctrine:
Jiu Jitsu nerds, however, have long been familiar with Hall’s talent, methodology and some of his more eloquently stated philosophies.
After winning two rounds by heel hook submission, Hall lost his quarter-final match against Team McGregor’s Saul Rogers, who stopped each of Hall’s attempts to roll beneath him. Rogers was scheduled to fight in the TUF 22 Finale against Against Russian born, Irish raised Artem Lobov.
However, following visa issues, Rogers was removed from the fight card and replaced by Hall.
Hall, his supporters, and the Jiu Jitsu world could not ask for a better matchup. Lobov has had a few submission victories, but none against a grappler near the caliber of Hall. And Hall, while not nearly the same sort of expert in striking as he is on the ground, has a technically sound understanding of kickboxing––at least enough to stay safe providing he keeps composed.
Lobov, during the majority of his fights, has operated as a heavy handed counterstriker. He waits for his opponent to give up space or to lose intelligent angle, and then wings knockout punches from his hips. A southpaw, he throws looping hooks over the top and favors his left cross, his lead uppercut, and, at close ranges, his lead shovel hook to the body. His short arms and relatively unthreatening kicks diminish his danger at long range; but when his opponents lose distance, he attacks like a pitbull.
Hall has to keep control of his movement and range. Lobov will stalk him for the length of the fight. And if he begins losing his feet in the back pedal, he may end up eating a barrage of kill strikes against the cage. If he lets Lobov get close, he’ll have to time a clinch while avoiding the heatseaking uppercut.
At a distance, Lobov plays into Hall’s game. Lobov has been knocked down by headkicks in several fights; and though Hall may be safer if he keeps both of his legs beneath his hip line for this fights, he has the knockout capability as long as his opponent keeps his hands below his shoulders.
If Hall can slow Lobov down and keep him out of range for the first two rounds, the latter is likely to begin storming forward. Lobov is markedly more aggressive in the final minutes of his bouts, throwing his counterstriking method by the side for a more wild, awkwardly footed, swarm of attacks. When he gets impatient, he squares his hips with each punch. The third round should be Hall’s best chance to take his opponent down for a quick finish while mitigating his own vulnerability.
In his last four professionally sanctioned fights, Lobov has defended only 30 percent of takedown attempts. If Hall times his shot in concert with Lobov’s hip exposure, the ankle will be ripe for the picking.
Most of Hall’s shots druing his stay at the TUF house have been in the form of an Imanari Roll (demonstrated below by the technique’s namesake).
Yet, in his single failure in The Ultimate Fighter Octagon, Hall could not secure his opponent’s leg using this technique; Rogers had been coached well enough to avoid Hall’s leg lock entry. We can presume that Connor McGregor has coached his friend and teammate well enough to similarly avoid this attack if he can see it coming.
The UFC needs Ryan Hall. Jiu Jitsu fans need Ryan Hall in the UFC. He’s a finisher, he plays a style of BJJ that’s flashy enough for the less-sophistocated MMA fans, who have grown accustomed to demanding referee inteventions when the fight goes to the ground. He’s a true Jiu-Jitsu technician who understands the physics and mechanics behind every exchange, and––more importantly––can execute them with precision.
We need a Jiu Jitsu artist, a real, educated, experienced artist, to be the next Ultimate Fighter. And Ryan Hall is our guy.
The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale: “Edgar vs. Mendes” airs live tonight on Fox Sports 1 at 10 p.m. Eastern. Prelims start on the same channel at 8 p.m.