Jon Fitch and the decline of the closed guard in MMA

Earlier this year Jon Fitch declared that “the closed guard is dead,” following Nate Marquardt’s unexpected loss to wrestler Chael Sonnen. No less than ground-wizard Shinya Aoki backed up the claim.

This is the basic closed guard (with gi) in BJJ:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoJ5noSl3Rs&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

More recently, USA Today interviewed Fitch following the announcement of his upcoming match with B.J. Penn, and Fitch got to expand on his views regarding the guard position.

From USA Today:

Fitch: I’m not saying that people don’t still try it, using the closed guard and then trying to work high guard. But I think it’s very counterproductive. You spend lot of time on your back, flat against the ground, taking punishment; taking elbows, punches, knees to the body.

Just over time, it’s very easy to avoid submissions. … It’s easy to bunch your shoulders back inside, pulling arms out, getting away from the triangle and armbars, and then doing damage and controlling top. The bottom guy just takes damage and wears himself out over time, or gasses his legs out even, trying to hold the guard position.

If you keep an active guard, an open guard, you’re more mobile. You’re more active in trying to get up to your feet, or you’re moving and trying to sweep more. And as guys follow you or try to hold you down or keep you down, then they open themselves up to submissions. Then it’s when you can roll into your armbar or triangle, or just stand up to your feet and get back to work with your hands.

What do you think?

All around, a very interesting interview with a fighter in a very interesting spot in their career. Check it out for more on Fitch, who is refreshingly level-headed and surprisingly honest with himself about why he hasn’t received another shot at the welterweight title.

USA Today: “Jon Fitch doesn’t want to be MMA’s Dan Marino”

(photo via)

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