Jonno Mears grew up watching the WWF (now WWE) as a kid growing up in England. He was a casual fan, but marked out at the likes of Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and the Legion of Doom.
One of the things that fascinated him about pro wrestling was the move set, even if he wasn’t great at memorizing all the names.
“I loved and studied all the moves,” Mears told MMA Fighting. “I wasn’t great at remembering the names, as I was trying to do them on my younger brother.”
On Saturday, Mears upgraded his list of victims. The Manchester area native actually finished an opponent with a pro-wrestling style Boston Crab on a card Saturday night. Aaron Jones was the man on the wrong side of the hold and the event was Full Contact Contender 19 in Bolton.
Video of the submission has gone viral and Mears (2-0) got quite a bit of attention this weekend. The submission was even shared on Twitter by WWE star Chris Jericho, who uses a variation of the Boston Crab as his finishing maneuver: The Walls of Jericho.
Hahah see the #WallsOfJericho really works! https://t.co/qJpJLn0lMz
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) September 30, 2017
“I’m very shocked at the response,” Mears said. “I knew it would be good, but not this amazing.”
In reality, Mears said he did go into the fight thinking about pulling off a submission that would stun the world of mixed martial arts. Before his pro debut in June, Mears said he was goaded by Full Contact Contender promoter Adam They, who told him that he didn’t think anyone has pulled off a Boston Crab finish ever in a real MMA fight. Mears never got a chance to go for it, though — he knocked out opponent Will Cairns in 23 seconds.
“So I played with it in my training and kept it in my mind knowing it would be funny and somewhat new,” Mears said.
Last week when his original opponent Jay Moogan pulled out of the fight and Jones stepped in on short notice, Mears knew he had an even better shot. Jones, Mears said, is known for his boxing, not his grappling.
“I knew I had more chance of getting a submission finish,” Mears said.
The scramble that led to the crab was a weird one. Mears took Jones’ back with Jones face down and, when Jones went to cover up preparing for punches, Mears switched to his legs. He grabbed a hold of them and bent them backward while sitting down. Mears had to torque it to get Jones to tap.
“When I took him down, he turned to all fours quick, but I managed to chin strap him and was going to try the Peruvian necktie,” Mears said. “But he tucked his chin, so I jumped to his back, then the crab came into my head. Then, during the scramble, I was going to turn into mount and give it up, but I seen he covered up during me striking him, so I thought why not I just try? And I was shocked myself I got a hold of his legs in a scramble.”
While some on social media opined that Jones likely tapped to the foot lock portion of the move, Mears said he likely gave up because of what the move was intended to do — damage the back.
“I’m sure it was his back, although I applied it slowly knowing it’s a dangerous move being a spine lock,” Mears said. “But he refused to tap, so I cranked it a bit more while sticking out the tongue.”
Mears, 34, said he “messes about” often with “silly submission attempts” in training. He said his Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach Andy Aspinal is a “chilled-out coach” who lets his students enjoy the art. Having fun is a major key for Mears.
“I always say to everybody, if you don’t enjoy [MMA], don’t do it,” Mears said. “You gotta really love and enjoy doing it to succeed, as it’s a very tough sport.”
Mears just turned pro in MMA last year, but said he has 10 amateur fights under his belt. He’s currently opening up his own MMA facility in his hometown of Bury, called Bury MMA. Along with coaching, Mears said, he plans on fighting for another three or four years. He says his skillset makes him unique and “goofy” at times.
“My mind ticks about differently and my inner belief and confidence within myself and my skillset,” said Mears, who fights at lightweight. “I always try to enjoy my fights. Physically, I have some long limbs and stand at 5-foot-11 with a 77-inch span at lightweight. I feel my reactions are fast and I’m very accurate.”
Some have joked online that Mears has proven that pro-wrestling moves can do damage in real fights. He’s not 100 percent if that’s the case, he just knows he’s having a good time trying it out.
“I don’t think some of the [moves] would transfer over to MMA too great, like a Tombstone (The Undertaker’s finishing move),” Mears said with a laugh. “But as we all know, the physical side to a martial artist is very important, to give a fighter different attributes to use, but the mind and mental side is just as important.”
As for what might be next in his bag of tricks, Mears isn’t saying. But it seems like it’s something he’s already thinking about.
“I can’t say this as it may give away my next move,” he said with a laugh. “I have a few up my sleeve, and I know if I can pull off another that would be even more amazing.”