It’s a classic question that has been around throughout the history of MMA, vale-tudo or whatever the next name denominating the sport to arise is.
All is takes is for a monster like Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva or Jon Jones to show up on the scene and fans get worked up into a frenzy and some hyperbolic commentator states, “He can’t lose even with both his hands tied!” Or, “It would take two opponents at the same time to beat the champion!”
Fighting in twos (or more) is the stuff of Bruce Lee flicks, or pro wrestling. But it really does happen in real life.
Last decade, word of an epic altercation involving Carlos Newton got around. As the story goes, the former UFC and Pride FC star was left alone to defend himself against 12 aggressors, even seeking refuge behind the counter of a restaurant, flinging kitchen items to protect himself, according to witnesses—just like in the movies. And also like in the movies, the Canadian submission ace survived relatively unscathed.
Now as for layman fights, everyone has had their own experience. The question here has to do with Jiu-Jitsu as self-defense. As salvation in extreme cases, and for curiosity’s sake too, of course.
For example: Could Jon Jones, the best light heavyweight in the UFC today, easily overcome a pair of skinny guys like, say, the brothers Rafael and Guilherme Mendes in a real fight situation.
To MMA coach and Jungle Fight-promotion kingpin Luis “Bebeo” Duarte, Jon Jones wouldn’t stand a chance in a Jiu-Jitsu match. In MMA, though, things are a lot hairier. “The first one would fall with his ribs caved in within seconds, and the other would have to get out of there quick,” quips the Carlson Gracie black belt.
“I CAN’T SEE A WAY TO BEAT JON JONES”
To the brothers such a task would be a tall order indeed. That’s right, Rafa and Gui’s money would be on Jones for this one. “Shoot, I can’t see how we would beat him—not even the both of us together!” says Rafael with a laugh. “That would be a tough strategy to put together. The thing to do would be for one of us to get in the line of fire and get knocked out while the other one latches on to his legs. Maybe a back take or footlock might come of it. One is the decoy, the other tangles up with him.”
Would it really be all that easy for the darling of the UFC? To at least one Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teacher, no, it wouldn’t. Quite the contrary.
“To give Jones his props, out of ten fights, I’d say he’d win one of them. The Mendeses would win nine.” That’s the take of Claudinho Arrais, a Rilion Gracie student and co-promoter of IBJJF tournaments in Southern Brazil. He means what he says. And he has experience backing him up.
“TWO USUALLY BEATS ONE” SAYS THE TEACHER
In 1996, Claudinho accompanied Rilion on a visit to Royce Gracie’s academy in Torrance, California. A post-training debate arose, whether a seasoned black belt could beat two less experienced practitioners. There wasn’t a question about it in Rilion’s mind at all. He called his nephew Igor Gracie and a partner over to take on an incredulous big guy, who thought putting away two 13-year-olds would be child’s play. The lumbering fellow donned boxing gloves. The fledgling pair were forbidden to hit, just grapple.
The first clash saw the two hovering around, one on each side, adrenaline pumping. When one would close the distance on one side, the other would dart onto the hulking fellow’s back. The young duo won by rear-naked choke. The defeated said he only lost because he was afraid to hurt them, promising to make it count the second time around. That time, it was even quicker and easier—another loss via choke.
“When your attack is focused on one, the other has loads of room to grab on. It’s not all that easy to knock someone out. Between two experienced fighters, two always beats one, no matter how big he is. Jon Jones wouldn’t stand a chance,” asserts Claudinho.
What’s your take, gentle reader? How many Mendes brothers would it take to beat one Jon Jones?