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From Elvis to Aoki: The History of the Gogoplata in MMA

Australian MMA pioneer Elvis Sinosic was to make his Octagon return this weekend when the UFC debuts in his homeland at UFC 110. But although he has been forced out with an injury, let's still revisit the history of the gogoplata submission in remembrance of Sinosic's MMA introduction of the difficult maneuver 13 years ago.

For those unfamiliar with the submission, the move is a shin choke pressing against the throat of an opponent. It's a move that appears to have originated in Judo as the "Kagato-jime." In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it is most commonly seen transitioning around the omoplata and was coined "gogoplata" because the word "gogo" in Portuguese is slang for the Adam's apple.

Coincidentally, another "Elvis" claims to have introduced the move. Former PRIDE fighter and BJJ extraordinaire Nino "Elvis" Schembri claims to have invented the move. The ultra-flexible Schembri was known for his devastating use of the omoplata and added the shin across the trachea as another application to submitting his opponent from that position.

"The gogoplata is a variation from the omoplata," Schembri told MMA Fighting. "I adapted because of my flexibility. As far as I know it is not a judo move, however all things in Brazilian jiu-jitsu connect to judo. I did it in the academy first about fifteen years ago, but the first time I used it was in Sao Paulo in 2000."

And actually, Schembri doesn't consider Sinosic's shin choke a gogoplata.

"The difference between the moves is that for the gogoplata that i developed you let go of the back of the head for the choke and grab the big thumb of your foot, and then there are its other variations," Schembri said.

Sinosic won't claim to invent the move, but believes his attempt should be considered a gogoplata.

"My only claim is that it is the first documented use of the move in MMA," said Sinosic. "When I came up with that move, I called it the shin choke. It was only years later reviewing the old footage that I realized it was what is now termed as a gogoplata. I believe it is a gogoplata variation. I have no issues with Nino being the inventor of the move and would never lay claim to such a thing."

Eddie Bravo, who helped popularize the move in the grappling world in his 10th Planet jiu-jitsu system through his technique of applying the move through the rubber guard (or more specifically "kung fu move," when speaking in Eddie Bravo), credits Schembri for the move.

"I stole this move from jiu-jitsu phenom Nino Schembri because it wasn't hard for me to see just how often it presented itself during the transition to the omoplata," Bravo wrote in his book, Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed.

It wasn't until 2006 when the MMA world took notice to the move when Shinya Aoki helped popularize the move by notably tapping top-ranked Joachim Hansen with the submission at PRIDE Shockwave on New Year's Eve.

But nine years ago prior in October 1997, Sinosic -- though he didn't finish the choke and wasn't applied from a traditional omoplata transition or rubber guard position -- is perhaps the first one to attempt the move in MMA, applying a shin choke against Kiyoshi Tamura at a RINGS event in Japan.

"Of course the choke with the shin was used for years in judo, but I am proud to be credited in bringing the move to MMA," Sinosic said. "I don't know if I was really the first fighter to use it, but I am happy to have gone down in history as the man who (introduced it in MMA)."

For a measure of how rare the move is in MMA, in the 17-year history of the UFC totaling 145 events and counting, no fighter has registered a gogoplata inside the Octagon.

Two months after Aoki submitted Hansen, Nick Diaz landed the most important gogoplata by submitting then No. 1 lightweight (BJ Penn at the time hadn't compete at 155 pounds for years) Takanori Gomi at PRIDE 33 in Las Vegas.

That same year, The Ultimate Fighter 2 runner-up Brad Imes received some renewed interest when he posted back-to-back gogoplatas, against Gladiator Challenge/King of the Cage veteran Bo Cantrell and TUF 10's Zak Jensen. More impressively, Imes is a heavyweight applying the move typically more fitting for a lighter (read: more flexible) fighter.

Then 18 months after the gogoplata over Hansen, Aoki landed the move again -- this time from full mount against 2000 Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling, Katsuhiko Nagata. Although Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto won a fight last October with the gogoplata and less recognized fighters in smaller shows have probably finished with the move, the Aoki-Nagata fight would be the last time a gogoplata was hit in a major MMA event.

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