No-gi Superfight this Sunday
September 8, Leandro Lo (Cicero Costha) and Claudio Calasans (Atos) face off at the Copa Podio in a no-gi superfight. In a 2 part series, I will be looking at past footage to see how the battle might play out and where the critical scrambles/positions might be that tip victory one way or the other.
Lo is typically a light weight while Calasans is one division higher at middle, but as Lo has fought at middle before and struggles to make light weight, weight should not be a big issue in the match up (as compared to the 65kg Miyao fighting in the middleweight GP this weekend). Lo will be taller and have the longer limb length along with no weight cutting drain to deal with thus keeping his biggest physical advantage, his cardio, preserved for the most part. Calasans, an ex-national wrestler and black belt judoka will have physical toughness/raw strength over Lo but as Calasans is not a pressure passer/smasher this really only translates to a takedown/clinch advantage.
Not much to debate here, Calasans has good wrestling control (a good blast double) and judo takedowns (he pulls off osotogaris, morote seoinages and hip throws). Calasans also has a good understanding of planes/shooting distance and drops levels well. In absolute matches even Rodolfo would rather play guard than get into a takedown war with Calasans. In contrast, as mentioned in an earlier blog post and video, Lo has almost no sprawl and is very susceptible to doubles/singles/shots. A takedown by Calasans seems almost inevitable if Lo engages on the feet.
Nonetheless, Lo is likely to pull guard and try get a sweep off Calasans.
Lo’s Guard vs Calasans’ Top Game
Lo has one of the best guards in his division and of the elite blackbelts in general. He has not been passed in almost 3 years(?) in the gi at an elite level and in no-gi only Tanquinho (forced Lo to sweep recklessly in the last seconds to catch up on points and passed) and Xande Ribeiro (forced Lo to turtle, advantage) have managed to get any points off his guard. Lo’s guard has been tested in the absolute and his own weight class and seems impervious to smashing/pressure/dragging/agility/speed passing tactics. A lot of this is coming from Lo’s use of open/DLR/butterfly guard to keep distance and never letting someone get close to crossface/grab his head/get underhooks. Lo is so conservative he won’t even play closed/X-guard/half to risk any chance of someone getting close. Add to the mix his above average flexibility, long limbs, willingness to invert into pressure and ability to re-guard from a sudden left-right pass switch (his guard retention movements/mechanics are very similar to the Miyaos), passing seems almost impossible.
Calasans on the other hand has a pretty average passing game, preferring to not use his strength advantage over most in his division to smash/pressure. Calasans also doesn’t side switch/drag/toreando or use standing passes in general. His preference is to play double guard pulls and try rolling attacks to spin into 50/50, get leg locks, berimbolo etc, ie not exactly “passing” as one would think of in the traditional sense. At middleweight, this does catch many of the slower guarders by surprise, but against Lo, the much better scrambler of the two, it seems unlikely to work. Lo in general is leg lock proof and has a specific counter to 50/50 which often works (see part 2, I wanted to cover this in the Lo studies originally but could not fit it in). Many have tried to 50/50 Lo (in gi and no gi) and very frequently lose this position/scramble. Lo’s specialty is also dealing with inverters (Lo wins almost every scramble in an inversion situation) so it seems unlikely Calasans gets much out of his “top” game from Lo’s guard.
Calasans’ key to victory: Front headlock/Guillotine
One thing Calasans has going for him is his front headlock. That is one direct carry over from his wrestling that he translates well into gi and no gi. Calasans will go for the front headlock any way he can, off a snap down, clinch, your failed sweep/shoot etc. More dangerous, he will jump for it while standing with you, or jump over your guard (especially butterfly and DLR) to try lock it on. If he can get the front headlock on, he can spin to the back, go for takedowns, hit guillotines, peruvian neck ties or just simply get the pass. This guillotine tactic is frequently used by Marcelo Garcia and is very effective in no-gi. Lo has not encountered an aggressive head grabber yet (in gi or no gi) and so it will be interesting to see how he deals with Calasans’ main offensive weapon. In general though, Lo’s no-gi guard game is extremely conservative (unlike his gi game) that he never drives in deep/close to get underhooks off his butterfly or shoot in from butterfly to transition to one legged X/full X guard. While this makes sweeping Calasans tough it also makes it hard for Calasans to secure good head control on Lo. Quite likely, Calasans will have to try jump/roll for it or sacrifice the sweep to try get it. If he fails though, he gives Lo top and will have to deal with Lo’s biggest threat, his passing onslaught (which is almost a 100% replica of his gi game).
In the next entry coming shortly, we will look at the Lo’s top game vs Calasans’ guard. In the meantime, do let me know if you think Calasans has a shot at passing Lo’s guard!
Enjoy the video. Come on. It’s Leandro Lo. You knew I had to.