What is the Ezekiel Choke, and which UFC fighters have used it?

Sode guruma jime, also known as “Ezekiel Choke,” is a Judo choking technique. It is particularly unusual in mixed martial arts. There are only two submission cases with this technique in UFC history, both by Alexei Oleynik.

The movement consists of pressing the opponent’s trachea or the carotid arteries, reducing the oxygen flow in the process. While there are several positions in which this technique can be applied, the most common results from clinching the opponent’s head and pressing the throat with the other hand.

Here’s a video of Daniel Cormier and Kenny Florian demonstrating how the peculiar choke is done:

The Ezekiel Choke was completed in the UFC for the first time only in 2017 when Oleynik managed to submit Viktor Pesta with the technique in the first round of their heavyweight bout.

He would then repeat the feat three fights later against Junior Albini. To this day, Oleynik is the only fighter in UFC history to have won via Ezekiel Choke.

Why is it called “Ezekiel choke?”

The Ezekiel Choke got its name in homage to one of its most famous users, Ezequiel Paraguassu. The Brazilian judoka introduced the choke to the MMA world when he trained at Carlson Gracie’s gym in 1988.

Paraguassu concluded that a competitive environment could help his preparation for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. “What better than a Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym?” Paraguassu thought. And he was right. Gracie’s team members were all eager to display their BJJ skills to the judoka.

However, upon being constantly locked in the BJJ practitioners’ guards, Paraguasse had to improvise. He decided to try the sode guruma jime, as he recalls in this interview with MMA Fighting.

“The first time I choked someone and he tapped, everyone was shocked. Professor Carlson asked his athlete if he got hurt if he tapped because I hurt him. They didn’t understand what was going on. Someone being choked from guard position? I just improvised, and it worked,” Paraguassu recounted.

“I had no idea how to get out of their guards, so I started to use that. The more they pushed me away, the more they got choked. They started to say, ‘Try that thing Ezequiel did, try that Ezequiel Choke,’ and that was it,” Paraguassu concluded.

With the ascension of other judokas, like Kayla Harrison, in the MMA world, we may start to see more of the Ezekiel Choke in the sport.

Published 17 Feb 2021, 06:14 IST

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