Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, widely considered the No. 3 lightweight in the world, tapped out DEEP titleholder Katsunori Kikuno at DREAM.12 on Sunday. But early on Alvarez was in trouble when he was caught in a move, which he claimed, was "something I've never been in before."
The move is called the standing crucifix, a neck crank obtained when the applier can secure double underhooks and join his hands around his opponent's back. It can be transitioned from a guillotine choke and also be utilized when defending a takedown, which happened in this case.
After circling for 15 seconds, Alvarez shot-in with a double-leg takedown and Kikuno defended with a sprawl. When pressed against the cage, Kikuno grabbed his second underhook with his right arm for the standing crucifix and applied pressure to Alvarez's neck by leaning back. The move could have been incredibly dangerous had the top of Alvarez's head been bent directly towards the front of Kikuno's hip.
Kikuno controlled Alvarez in the hold for nearly two minutes.
"I originally thought that they were just going to break it, so I kind of just relaxed in there, but the ref just let it go and he kept cranking my neck," Alvarez told the press after the fight. "It didn't feel like it was a move that you would give up to. I just felt uncomfortable. That's all."
However upon release, Alvarez was in obvious discomfort and outright ran away from Kikuno for a momentary breather.
"And I didn't realize until I got out of it that it was stopping my blood flow to my brain I guess and it messed up my footing."
But while Alvarez would lose the remainder of round one, Alvarez emerged stronger in the second frame, scoring two takedowns before finishing with an arm-triangle choke.
"I was caught in a weird situation, something I've never been in before," Alvarez said. "And it caught me off guard, but as soon as I adjusted and got my wits about me again. I think I was able to control the fight like I wanted to in the beginning."
In the video below, Dan "The Wolfman" Theodore demonstrates the standing crucifix.