Pantoja vs Royval - Technical Fundamentals Outlasts Technical Chaos

TL:DR - Good fundamental technique will carry you through chaotic scrambles

Brandon Royval does not know the definition of "boring" and it shows every time he comes to fight. Watching him lose the other weekend wasn't fun but I can not help but be impressed with Alexandre Pantoja and his technical consistency in this matchup.


If you're looking for broader fight specific analysis and details, check out the embedded video. Otherwise I wanted to touch I on something I could have spent more time on: Pantoja's back control.


Taking the back isn't anything revolutionary. It is a common milestone in a grappler's workflow when hunting for the submission. But there's a hierarchy of prerequisites you need to establish before you start sinking in the choke:

  1. Back to chest contact

  2. Some form of upper body control (seatbelt control, double underhooks, etc.)

  3. Lower Body control (Hooks, body triangle, half back, etc.)

Is it ideal to have all 3 of these parameters checked off before hunting for the rear naked choke? Absolutely. Is it mandatory? Absolutely not. Pantoja actually had 2 out of the 3 requirements for full back control. In theory, he could have rushed and tried to gun for the choke despite Royval's entertaining scrambles. Every time he got a shot at the back, he was making it clear that he was not moving any further on the offensive until he got his hooks in.


This is the mark of an experienced savvy grappler. At the end of the first, Pantoja had lost the back multiple times and almost got his back taken as well. As a figher, that is a very discouraging place to be, physically and mentally. This is only exasperated when your opponent is finding their second wind. In spite of this, Pantoja took one last opportunity to attack the back standing and checked off the final box which lead to a fantastic rear naked choke finish.


The reason I chose to break this fight down was primarily because of the consistency Pantoja was showing in his choice of techniques. The crab ride backtake deserves a breakdown and analysis, but I love seeing technical composure just as much as I love seeing technical chaos.


Written Wednesday, August 25th, 2021.

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