This Sunday at the no-gi superfight at the Copa Podio, on one hand it will a bag of “modern BJJ” tricks by Calasans (inversions to berimbolos, leg locks, leg drags etc, rolling guard passes to a guillotine/leg drag) with good wrestling against Lo’s modified old school BJJ (zero inversions or drags, just kneeslides/active posting and modified step and push toreandos). Calasans will be a unique opponent for Lo though and if Lo doesn’t get to pass/top position, this could be a long night for him.
Continuing on from Part 1 of the preview, we look at how Calasans’ guard will fare against Lo’s relentless top game and what key scrambles may decide the match coming up in 2 days time. I will also breakdown some of Lo’s no-gi game and his particular counter to 50/50 guard.
Calasans’ Guard vs Lo’s Passing
In gi or no-gi, Calasans is a closed guard player, he is suffocating here, and will work armbars/wrist locks/guillotines as you try break free. He doesn’t actively try sweep here but rather hope to frustrate. When his guard does get pried open or if he can’t get closed guard, he almost always looks to immediately invert off your first pass attempt. He wants to invert under ASAP and in the ensuring confusion/scramble, come out with a leg lock or get to 50/50. It is a bit ironic that despite his wrestling credentials he doesn’t look for the sit up sweep to double/single more (currently one of the best sweeps in BJJ and co-incidentally Lo’s Achilles heel). Nonetheless, especially in absolute/middleweight, this type of lightweight tactic is very confusing to bigger players and they are often caught by his inversion
Lo’s passing has already been covered extensively in this blog in the Knee Slide Study Part 1, Part 2, Toreando Study and DLR Counters Study (scroll down to links to those studies). The only thing to point out is that in no-gi, Lo’s passing should be on roids. Most of the time people try to slow him down by going to spider or DLR, or at least some kind of cloth grab. Without these restraints, Lo will basically be able to “freestyle” over a passive guarder posting and stepping over without restraint. In videos of his no-gi matches, his kneeslide/active posting/stepover combo is lethal, he is no longer restricted to step overs on the knee slide side, but can now step over and post with the underhook punching hand. This leads to a confusing left-right-left kneeslide/stepover attack that gasses out opponents if they don’t concede the pass first. As most guarders are intimidated, they end up merely trying to turn in to one attack only to realise they have given their back when Lo switches over to the other side. You will see some of this in action in the video.
Also “step and push” toreando has no “pull” element and thus requires no gi. In fact, Lo sometimes does his toreando with no grips even in gi matches. He merely starts the “step” portion off his knee/shin posts and begins to push. There isn’t enough recent no-gi tape to show him doing this but he should be able to perform this Sunday on Calasans.
As mentioned in the “Scouting Leandro Lo” entry (scroll down for link), Lo’s active posting has been effectively countered by good wrestlers, which Calasans is. Staying on your back as a guarder to face Lo is a losing proposition – if Lo can float over you, you are now at his mercy where he can spam you with kneeslide/stepover attempts non-stop. Kicking free from that bad position sets up his toreando. Sitting up into him ready to drive him back into a double/single has been pretty much the sole source of points that Lo concedes. As they say though, styles make fights and Calasans despite being a wrestler, guards/sweeps like a lightweight using inversions and doesn’t capitalize on top position (he does double guard pull many times). Whether he makes enough changes to take Lo out of his element remains to be seen.
Lo’s 50/50 counter is simple but effective
In keeping with his no “fancy moves” philosophy, Lo doesn’t try to 50/50 you back and hit his own leg lock or try sweep you from 50/50 etc. He basically has no regard for this guard or leglocks whatsoever and will stand up immediately into the 50/50 to start prying your legs open. As he pries he keeps trying to step forward till he gets them open upon which he will begin his pass. If the 50/50 is released early to spin for a kneebar or a backtake, he simply uses his step overs/active posts to get free. He gets 50/50-ed in almost half of his matches and in not a single one has he engaged in a “leg spaghetti” contest, preferring to immediately stand and pressure a pass. He has been swept on occasion standing up, but in an overwhelming number of times, he will get free and often be in a position to pass. Calasans has some good 50/50 submissions but Lo is so experienced in this position vs better 50/50 players , it doesn’t seem like a good position for Calasans to go for.
Lo shares the gym with 2 of the best berimbolo & 50/50 guard players in the world, that’s gotta help
And yet being very flexible himself, Lo strangely incorporates none of the tendencies of the Miyao brothers. No inversions or 50/50. He must get excellent practice passing inverting flexible guards though. No doubt some of the genesis of his unique passing style (and the DLR knee post) must have been to solve the problems the Miyaos bring.
Lo’s style basically continues to stay “basic” in the face of “modern” BJJ’s evolution. But every time Lo competes he seems to be getting sharper at his set of “moves” and he does make small incremental changes (especially to his guard play). Lo in a sense represents another way BJJ could have “evolved” and given his success at competitions, perhaps we will see more champions emerge using his brand of “modified” basics, with even more modifications even.
Modern BJJ vs Old School (supercharged) BJJ on display this Sunday at the Copa Podio
To date, Lo has dominated everyone, especially inverters and fancy guard players. His one weakness is a direct in your face wrestling based style which aggressively drives him back preventing him from establishing his “float”. Calasans being a very good wrestler has all the tools to bring this to Lo. Whether he brings that side this Sunday or plays his usual inversion based style could well determine victory or defeat. As far as my personal guess goes, we are going to have to wait to the Miyao + Lo team challenge to see if Lo is finally dethroned off the Copa Podio podium.
Check out the video.