We’ve seen some wild finishes and submissions in mixed martial arts. However, one of the rarest finishes we’ve ever seen is the Ezekiel Choke. So, what is it, and was it ever even used in the UFC?
The Ezekiel Choke is also known as Sode Guruma Jime, and it’s a chokehold with roots in judo. It got its name from Ezequiel Paraguassu, a Brazilian judoka that introduced the choke to BJJ practitioners while training at the Carlson Gracie academy.
The move became highly popular in modern-day BJJ. They gave it Ezequiel’s name to honor his contribution to the move being used not only in judo but in jiu-jitsu, and other martial arts, including MMA. It’s been used in the UFC only two times because it is quite difficult to perform without a gi.
Why Is It Called the Ezekiel Choke?
The choke’s original name stems from judo: Sode Guruma Jime. It means “sleeve wheel constriction” in Japanese because the original move requires a sleeve to be performed.
The name Ezekiel Choke appeared in the early 1990s after a Brazilian judoka Ezequiel Paraguassu passed on the judo technique to his training partners at the Carlson Gracie academy.
They had never heard of the technique before but recognized how great it would be to apply it to BJJ rules that allow a lot more grappling on the ground. You can do the standard Ezekiel Choke from inside the guard, so it’s a low-risk, high-reward move that quickly became popular in modern-day BJJ.
The rumor that Ezequiel himself invented the choke is false – it existed long before he ever showed it at the Gracie academy. In fact, he didn’t even know they named it after him for almost twenty years, as he moved to Switzerland shortly after he introduced the move to them.
How Do You Do the Ezekiel Choke?
The Ezekiel Choke has several variations, but all stem from the same principle. You need to clinch your opponent’s head with one arm right above the neck. The opponent should be facing you.
Next, you need to use your wrists as leverage to tuck the other hand below the neck and press the opponent’s trachea or the carotid arteries to reduce oxygen flow, resulting in a submission.
The reason why the choke is so rarely used in MMA is the lack of leverage you get. In judo and BJJ, you can create leverage by grabbing the sleeve of your gi. There are no sleeves in MMA, so you need to create all the leverage with your wrists alone.
However, if you can get a good grip, you can perform the Ezekiel Choke from numerous positions, including the bottom guard.
Ezekiel Choke in the UFC
Only one guy pulled off the Ezekiel Choke in the UFC, Aleksei Oleinik – and he did it twice. Both occasions earned him the Performance of the Night honors and high praise from his boss, Dana White.
First, he pulled it off against Viktor Pešta at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Penn in 2017. It looked like Pešta had him in trouble, climbing up in the mount position, only to get choked out moments later.
Three fights later at UFC 224, Oleinik fought Junior Albini and made him suffer the same consequences as Pešta – Aleksei looked hurt, bleeding badly above the eye, but he got the Ezekiel Choke from the bottom position and spectacularly finished the fight yet again.
Nobody else ever pulled it off to this day, and due to the difficulty of getting enough grip to perform the hold, I doubt we’ll see it again soon.