Last Wednesday Thiago Moises got the grappling fans to their feet with a leg lock victory over divisional stalwart Michael Johnson.
After a tough first round that appeared to be won by Johnson, Moises came out with heavy pressure in round two. After grabbing Johnson’s right leg looking for a single leg takedown, Moises bailed on it by falling back for the submission. With a guillotine-like grip, but a twisting motion, it left even some grappling aficionados wondering exactly what to call the submission. Luckily, Thaigo Moises was able to explain it.
“I had the single leg and then I laid down and went straight to the straight ankle lock. My left leg was crossed over his leg, putting a lot of pressure on his knee,” he explained. “But I had a straight ankle lock. I went belly down and he had to tap. I believe it was the straight ankle lock because I heard his foot popping a few times.”
The straight ankle lock submission is one that has not been seen in the UFC in some time. However, Moises wasn’t surprised the opportunity presented itself as it was all part of the gameplan.
“In training the strategy was to use my jiu jitsu and my wrestling to win this fight, but me and my coaches knew he had really good wrestling defense and I knew that my jiu jitsu was way better than his. So I’d be at an advantage even if I were on my back,” he said. “The strategy was to take him down, but if I couldn’t get the takedown, I would go for the butterfly sweep or to the straight ankle lock.”
But it wasn’t just a backup plan that happened to fall into his lap, but it was one he visualized happening before the fight - so much so that it was what he was drilling as he prepared that night.
“I drilled this a lot, even in the locker room I was drilling this move, so when I got the single leg it was just natural,” Moises shared. “This was the strategy. This is what I should have done since the beginning of the fight. All of my corner was talking to me ‘you have to go forward. You got to pressure him.”
After picking up a win over a big name like Johnson, Moises has his eyes set on a top 15 opponent. He feels that the notoriety of his recent opponent and the weight his opponent’s resume holds should catapult him to that slot.
“I think I deserve a top 15 guy. I have fought nothing but tough opponents since coming to the UFC. A win over [Johnson] - a think I deserve that. He beat Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier - both guys who are former champions,” Moises said. “I would love to fight Anthony Pettis. I think my fight style matches up really good against his.”
With cards becoming more frequent and seemingly safer to have, there’s no telling when a bout against Pettis or any future opponent would take place - regardless Moises will be ready.