The Severe Spotlight: Jafel Filho

Making your UFC debut on short notice is a double-edged sword. Mostly because you both do not have time to prepare with a full a camp or for an opponent, you conversely often don’t have time to allow the grandeur of the occasion to sink in and affect the preparations. Making that UFC debut, on short notice against Mohammad Mokaev is an extremely sharp double-edged sword.

To compete with and then put the young star in a kneebar that 99% of the roster would have tapped too is something entirely different. Something the UFC often looks favourably on is “taking the chance”. Whether that is taking the short notice fight in the first place, or whether that’s making a great impression after that first fight, often you will see the promotion deal with the short notice fighters with some leniency should they have produced on the night, win, lose or draw.

Daniel Barez was that leniency and Jafel Filho tore through that fight in the first round.

Ode Osbourne, Filho’s assignment on Saturday night is a significant step up. His UFC record of 4-5 does not speak to his ability. Osbourne is long and tricky, carries power and can fight everywhere.  

Filho began the fight by marrying his offensive and defensive responsibilities well. He opted for an orthodox stance, mixing between step in feinting, parrying away the lead hand of Osbourne and looking to land the back leg kick, either low or teeping to the body.

As the first minute draws to a close Filho drops into a takedown, Osbourne looks to turn the corner, but exposes his back. Lacing in a whizzer he gives Filho time to lace up a bodylock grip around the left hip. Filho also steps his left leg over the right of Osbourne to isolate it. This isolation allows for a variation of a dogfight sweep attempt, whereby Filho torques the leg of Osbourne to force a reaction. Osbourne gives the correct reaction, which is to build height and attempt to drive weight into Filho to reduce the torque, however Filho beautifully reads the pressure, and bails to his back, removing the base of Osbourne completely due to the whizzer being held, and uses his right leg to post up off the mat and take top with a clean reversal.

From top Filho keeps an underhook and utilises a wrist ride to land strikes on Osbourne. This creates a nasty dilemma. If Osbourne wishes to stop the strikes, he can block with his free hand but is pinned in that position. If he wishes to fight the wrist ride grips, he must contend with not being able to stop the strikes efficiently.

The decision is made for him as Filho progresses to a truck hook on the left leg of Osbourne. The truck hook exists as a method of using a triangling of the attackers’ legs around a defensive fighters legs to restrict its ability to bend. Filho uses this as a method of keeping Osbourne grounded as he relinquishes his wrist ride and switches to a shallow armpit grip with his left hand, leaving his right hand still able to strike.

The next two minutes are positionally dominant for Fialho, he hangs from Osbourne, stripping posts, clearing frames, constantly harassing the bae of Osbourne, whilst continuing to search for the back, using his strikes to open his opponent. With around 1:45 to go in the round Filho laces a body triangle and looks to flatten out Osbourne belly down.

As he does this, he shows the benefits and the disadvantages of working with double overhooks. Having double overhooks allows for Filho to punch strangles with both arms, however due to the lack of cross body control, Osbourne can turn to bottom mount.

That bottom mount is not a position you want to be in either. Filho sits his weight to his left hip and works to isolate an arm of Osbourne. That arm isolation can lead to armbars, triangles, head and arm chokes and back takes. Osbourne looks to drag his hips close to the side of the cage and Filho squeezes his knees and gets to a perfect hip ride position, beginning to unload big shots on Osbourne.

Osbourne is forced to turn in and gives Filho purchase of his neck. A beautiful adjustment from Filho as he is looking to deepen the choke was to grip the forehead of the bellied down Osbourne and drive his hips in as he lifted the forehead. The pressure on the lower spine creates more of a willingness for the body to arch naturally, which exposes more of the neck. Those combined mechanics gave Filho full purchase on the choke, forcing Osbourne to tap.

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