When you live inside the mixed martial arts bubble, the summer Olympics becomes an every-four-years visit to foreign corners of the combat sports world. There’s a recognizable motion and dynamism on the TV screen when you watch the double-leg takedowns of freestyle wrestlers, the right crosses of boxers, the armbars that judoka use during all-too-brief tumbles on the ground, or any of the other component parts of MMA transplanted to a different, worldlier context. (Another familiar MMA-related sight: Former Team Quest standout and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland is head coach of the US Greco-Roman wrestling team this year.) But each sport contains its own culture, governed by rules that range from complex to inscrutable, at least to the illiterate among us.
Yesterday, 25-year-old, 75-kilogram Roman Vlasov of Russia won his second straight Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, beating Mark Madsen of Denmark 5-1 in the tournament final. But Vlasov’s semifinal victory against Bozo Starcevic, a Croatian whose name sounds like an Eastern Bloc villain from a Cold War-era comedy, produced the tournament’s most memorable moment. Down 6-0 at the end of the first period and with Vlasov controlling him, Starcevic wrapped an arm around Vlasov’s head and cupped his chin, squeezed hard, shuffled his hips away, then reversed Vlasov onto his back.
What might have looked like a head pinch to wrestling purists became, with the benefit of hindsight and replay, the favorite fight ender of Renzo Gracie seminar attendees everywhere: an arm-in guillotine choke. When the camera caught a glimpse of the face of Vlasov after the reversal, he looked like a crash-test dummy, all vacant eyes and lifeless limbs lying supine on the mat as the referee called a halt.
Watch the video here.
Chokes of all kinds are definitely not okay in Greco-Roman, and yet ….View full article