The Severe Spotlight: Farid Basharat

135lb might be the best division not just in the UFC, but in world MMA right now. Particularly in the UFC (at the time of writing 73 active Bantamweight fighters on the roster*), the list of names in the division that are unranked in comparison to the skill level of those names is unfathomable. Getting noticed is tough, but take notice is exactly what Farid Basharat deserves as he extends his perfect record to 11-0 (2-0 UFC, 3-0 Endeavour).

Kleydson Rodrigues in hindsight is a step down in class from Da’Mon Blackshear. Basharat in his post-fight interview ensured to humbly tell the crowd just how good Da’Mon Blackshear is, and that his record does not pertain to his skills. Peeling those comments back a single layer, he told us then to notice him, because he knew what that win meant – how good of a win that was.

But every fighter must face several tests in the UFC before we look upon them as a contender to either a ranking, or ultimately a title shot. One of those is the “wrecking ball” test. Rodrigues did Miley Cyrus proud in his 59 second demolition of Shannon Ross in Perth.

Round one began with Rodrigues stating his intentions immediately. He lands with a right low calf kick that forces a step from Basharat before clipping the side of the head with a well-timed, well placed high kick. Basharat wasted no time catching the next low kick and turning it into a takedown.

Rodrigues smartly sprawls alongside turning the corner to strip the grip Basharat had accumulated on the far leg. Briefly settling into a front head lock situation with an unusual set of grips. He opted for a common chin strip; however the deep body grip was uncommon. It appears he began to look to lock up a d’arce choke, which from the front headlock is not advisable, as it is difficult to get enough purchase on the shoulder from a referee’s position.

Rodrigues attempts the go-behind to expose the back of Basharat, however Basharat had smartly kept hold of the chinstrap arm, pulling it tight to the top of his chest. Immediately this means that Rodrigues is anchored to the front of Basharat and gives him time to circle alongside Rodrigues, eventually beating him to the angle, scooping up the far leg and turning the transition into a mat return of his own. The return was a pseudo fireman’s carry/double leg hybrid. A smart use of positional awareness.

During transition, Rodrigues began to look for what seemed to be the beginnings of a triangle setup, his left leg aloft the back of Basharat and a deep far lat grip anchoring his hips up, however Basharat deftly positioned his head centre chest, and locked a bodylock grip around the waist of Rodrigues, severely diminishing his ability to break the grip and continue the triangle path with any meaning.  

Whilst the initial sequence was not successful, it is important to highlight the incredible level of grappling nuance on display, in the first and second.

Basharat begins his pass with a beautiful shin pummel with his right leg to block the left leg of Rodrigues. This is important for two reasons.

  1. When defending a bodylock situation, its imperative that you keep knees tight to the chest, this limits the space the attacker has to win the inside position and dominate the hip line with his knee. By placing that shin staple Basharat pins the leg to the mat, restricting the range of motion Rodrigues has in it, therefore limiting the ability to fully bring it to his chest.
  2. This shin staple allows Basharat to use the staple to extend the leg and drop into a chest-to-chest half guard, one of the more dominant passing positions.

Basharat having won the lower leg battle immediately moves to improve his upper body position, driving his right arm into an underhook and goes on a search for an inside bicep tie with his left hand. This is to both win the inside space, maintaining chest-to-chest and to limit the striking options of Rodrigues.  

The base is switched, and Basharat now uses hips to shelf the right leg of Rodrigues and Basharat profits from his excellent grappling as he slides the final piece of the puzzle into place. He connects his left elbow to the right knee of Rodrigues, pushing the knee down toward the mat to create the space for him to step him left leg over it. As the left knee makes connection with the mat, he smartly builds up his base square again, still deep on the right side underhook and the left hand still searching for inside position. The icing on the cake to what was a phenomenal pass was the consistent perfect head position of Basharat, cross body driving into the shoulder of Rodrigues, severely limiting his movement.

Some damage is exchanged as Rodrigues works to retain the right leg of Basharat by clamping his legs into a closed guard position. Basharat immediately notices the space created by the legs lifting off the mat and swallows it with another base switch and tripods with his crossface and underhook to begin to extract the leg. Pummelling a butterfly hook into the crook of the knee allows Basharat to slowly begin to work the trapped leg free – sensing the impending doom, Rodrigues explodes, looking to create space. Basharat proves the merit of soldi upper body frames as the result is Basharat smoothly sliding into the mount, tucking both feet underneath before working in a single grapevine hook.

The next step is to isolate an arm, this sets up a plethora of attacking options for Basharat. He does so with the use of double grapevine hooks, allowing him to drive his hips into the stomach of Rodrigues. Basharat walks up the left elbow of Rodrigues with a gable grip, gaining space inch by inch with a combination of forearm bumps and elbow flares. As the elbow rises above the shoulder line, the gable grip opens, and the left arm moves from a cross face to a far armpit grip. This locks the head, and the arm into place, and allows freedom of movement with Basharat’s right arm.

A small technical nugget occurs as Rodrigues is aware of the danger he is in – begins to strike Basharat with his right arm. Basharat in response leans weight to his left side, closing the distance between striking arm and his body, and relaxes the choking arm in doing so allows Rodrigues’ movements to sink the arm deeper into an eventual choking position.

As Basharat makes what would have been his final movements to sink in the choke, Rodrigues reacts well – shrimping up and creating abit of space, bringing his left arm back into the inside space. The primary focus here for Basharat is to maintain position here and does so by sinking his hips back into Rodrigues’ hips, in case of a large bridge and postures, landing shots. Basharat pummels inside, takes a collar tie and bangs away, Rodrigues uses this space to buck him off, doing brilliantly to work Basharat all the way back to the cage wall defending a double leg.

A lovely single leg sequence lands Rodrigues back on the canvas in a similar bodylock situation once again.

Basharat enacts the same principles. He wins the lower leg battle by walking his knees across the centre line, misaligning the spine of Rodrigues, and making it difficult for him to create space. He next works for an inside bicep tie and with a windshield wiper motion removes the hooking leg to ensure no meaningful connection to the floor for the left leg of Rodrigues, reducing the ability for bridges and shrimps.  Basharat once again uses the elbow push to remove the knee to chest connection and step over his own knee, dominating the hip line. Rodrigues this time looks to pummel his legs from the outside space – Basharat counters by taking a deep crossface and knee cuts through with his right leg.

A forearm post in the throat from Basharat progresses into a crossface underhook. He works the right leg free and switches the thigh staple to his left knee, driving his kneecap to the mat. Basharat and Rodrigues oscillate through a ton of options, grip fighting, landing shots, exchanging head positions, but this period is about Basharat landing damage.  

The finishing sequence is one of beauty. Basharat recycles the butterfly post and tripod movements to free his leg from the entanglement and postures up to work between landing heavy shots and using his left hand to move the right tricep across the body of Rodrigues for the head and arm choke.  As a result of the damage, Rodrigues makes a mistake and moves his own arm across body to land a shot.

Basharat snatches the head position.

Immediately bailing on the half guard position, Basharat circles his legs back and round into a ¾ mount situation for two reasons. Firstly, this will allow his right arm the maximal exposure to the neck and give the best choking option with square hips. Secondly, he can move himself into a dismounted position far easier.

Last chance saloon beckons as Rodrigues bridges, creating the space for Basharat to turn the corner, now just off parallel with his opponent he sets himself for the choke. Basharat high legs over into a dismounted position and the mechanics are wonderful. An effective head and arm choke utilises a number of things; the choke arm deep, so the bicep and shoulder connect to the neck, a retraction of that choking arm down into the trap of the opponent as the attacking head pushes the opponents head and neck into the choke, an engaged and tight back allows for maximal squeeze and finally, active toes to both engage the attacking core and to drive off the mat and into the choke.

Basharat had it all. The grimace was gruesome, and the tap came quick.

*73 fighters listed in the Wikipedia article for active UFC fighters (,_61_kg))

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