One of the more fun finishes you'll see in MMA this year (video above) involved a ground-and-pound sequence by 2004 judo Olympian Rick Hawn last week at Bellator 33 initiated with a beautiful judo throw.
The one-arm shoulder throw, referred to in judo as a "seoi-nagi," was all instinctual, says the four-time National judo champion.
"It was just second nature," Hawn told MMAFighting.com. "He was in the right position and I took advantage of it. Didn't even think about doing it, was just a reaction. It helps when you have done that throw for 20-plus years as well."
Judo throws are rarely seen in MMA due to the high level of difficulty as well as the risk of a rear-naked choke from turning your back on your opponent. For the most part, only top shelf judoakas have been effective in translating the Japanese martial art to MMA and one of the first judo players to do so was Karo Parisyan when he joined the UFC in 2003. In Parisyan's Judo for MMA instructional, he talks about the seoi-nagi.
"The instant my opponent digs his arm underneath mine, I'll trap his hand in my armpit by bringing my elbow close to my body," Parisyan teaches. "Next, I'll establish a tight grip on his triceps. Once I have his arm controlled, I'll secure a collar tie with my free hand, dig my forearm into his chest and plant my head into his shoulder. I then use these points of contact to keep his body at bay as I drive my hips backward. This creates separation between our bodies and extends his trapped arm, which allows me to move in for the throw. It's an excellent technique to catch your opponent off guard."
In the Hawn-Maynard fight, Maynard tries to capitalize on Hawn slipping after a high kick by trying to clinch with Hawn as Hawn recovers. Maynard puts his left arm over Hawn's shoulder and as soon as Hawn senses that, Hawn controls Maynard's left arm and scoops under Maynard's left armpit for the throw. And the rest is a showcase of another side of Hawn's game: devastating ground-and-pound punches.
With the win, Hawn secured himself a spot in next season's Bellator welterweight tournament.