Wrestling breakdown: Greco-Roman world champion Shinobu Ota is ready for RIZIN NYE debut


The reigning Greco-Roman world champion is embarking on mixed martial arts this New Year’s Eve. Japan’s Shinobu Ota just won a gold medal in Kazakhstan, where he dominated the 63 kg category. This is Ota’s first medal at this level since the 2016 Olympics, where he qualified for the final at 59kg.

While the Tokyo Olympics are just around the corner, it’s possible Ota will transition to full-time MMA, given his national rankings. 63kg is not an Olympic weight class, and the next closest class to 60kg is led by two-time world champion Kenchiro Fumita, who beat Ota in 2018.

Greco-Roman wrestling is a relatively restrictive art of wrestling, and it’s fair to question its usefulness in MMA compared to other forms of wrestling. However, Shinobu Ota’s aggressive and athletic style, both on the feet and on the mat, could make him one of the most promising wrestling crossover prospects in recent memory.

He will face veteran MMA grappler Hideo Tokoro at 135 pounds. Although Tokoro is 43 years old and has not fought since 2017, it is a dangerous clash given each man’s area of ​​strength. Sure, Ota could take him down, but is his ground game developed enough to avoid Tokoro’s relentless and dynamic submission attack? Does he have the tools on his feet to win a brilliant battle? Ota’s team are confident to have accepted this confrontation, to say the least.

An article from Yahoo Japan exposed his current training situation.

“Although he is an independent affiliation, the current practice environment is under KRAZY BEE’s trainer Issei Tamura, grappling is Shinya Aoki, and the batter is also studied under a boxing trainer, Ota practices at a high standard in every area. ”

Even if he doesn’t score the first victory, Shinobu Ota’s future in MMA is bright. Take a look at some of his skills and attributes that should immediately translate into the sport.

Duck underside and head nips: Shinobu Ota’s offensive style

In modern Greco-Roman wrestling at the highest level, kicking action is often hard to come by. There is a ton of risk involved in attacking, the majority of techniques leave the option for the attacking wrestler to shoot his opponent at him. Some throwing attempts are considered “slips” and points are not awarded to your opponent, but this rule is not sufficient insurance to encourage taking initiatives.

More often than not, the two wrestlers control the ties and the center of the mat, hoping to force enough caution calls against their opponent to win a “forced down”. In this case, the referee orders the cautious wrestler to start prone on the mat, giving his opponent the opportunity to practice tubular wrenches, reverse lifts or other exposure techniques.

It makes sense to play towards this kind of result, it is much less risky and wrestlers can specialize and focus on their attack and defense on the floor during training. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to see Greco-Roman wrestlers constantly pushing for neutral attacks and putting on a show. Men like Ismael Borrero and Shinobu Ota from Cuba are fantastic examples of how exciting El Greco can be on a global level. Of course, you’ll find more action when you start zooming in on national competitions or by age group, just watch as members of the US National Team erase their challengers year after year.

So what makes someone like Ota different? It’s not that he’s just “better” and that he can lock himself in over-unders and throw anyone in the world. He has a few select starters he prefers on the feet, and a series of absolutely brutal head nips from the floor that often allows him to finish matches without taking a second attack.

Ota’s highest entry percentage is its submarine.

This is mainly achieved without pressure in hand combat. Ota is able to pull his opponent’s arm inward and upward, while changing levels to roll under the elbow after creating a window. The beauty of this technique is that it is designed to end the game. One arm is moved up to hide, but the other arm is pulled down and through. When Ota hits his penetrating entry, he is able to squeeze the body straight up – trapping his opponent’s farthest arm against his own body.

This trap-arm bodylock allows Ota to immediately switch to a tubular wrench, the most common show turn in Greco. If his opponent cannot free that arm, Ota will continue to roll until the match ends in a technical fall.

Another great feature of the trap arm is that it removes a pole. In the clip above, you can see that Ota is able to control his opponent’s descent and plant him on his back with minimal resistance. His opponent has no way of stopping his fall or fighting. Another wrestling prospect, Mo Miller, recently won a slam knockout fight with a trap arm rear waist cincher.

Ota’s under bodylock duck entrances can also be used to counter attempts to reach the head, which comes in handy in Greco-Roman wrestling. Overall, Ota is excellent at building and reading momentum on the feet, using the push-pull dynamics of a match to time explosive and precise entries.

The other half of Shinobu Ota’s game is his nip in the head. If he doesn’t land on the mat with the trap, Ota loves to immediately switch to the front headlock and start working on a handle that can look like an armed guillotine. The entrance itself is very similar to the “pocket guillotine” we’ve seen from UFC fighters Pedro Munhoz, Jack Hermansson, and more recently Ilia Topuria.

Not only is Ota extremely powerful from this position, but he rolls his hips up and rips his head off in an explosive and violent manner. You don’t want to leave this man near your neck. Ota can permanently reset and keep squeezing that grip to create exposures, dragging his opponent all over the mat. Most consider Greco to be an upper body sport, but footwork and overall body positioning are absolutely essential for these techniques to be successful.

The pinch of the duck and Ota’s head also play into each other. If Ota is looking to dodge and his opponent matches his level to avoid it, Ota can rise above them and grab onto the front headband, lower them and head straight for his streak. head nips without even marking an indent.

How could Shinobu Ota’s game translate into MMA?

When evaluating a wrestling prospect for MMA, one of the most important things to look for is athletic type. Shinobu Ota is the complete package – explosive, agile, strong, poised, graceful. The degree of precision required to draw the techniques he does is difficult to understand for those who do not play sports. There is a lot more room for error when attacking the leg in freestyle or folkstyle, for example.

Shinobu Ota’s favorite attacks are also well optimized for MMA. Ducks and bodylocks can be incorporated into a boxing game quite easily, just watch how Petr Yan takes advantage of his head movement to access his own duck entrances. Of course, these direct level-shifting attacks seem to open up opportunities for the Counter-Guillotines, but adjustments like turning the corner or even the trap arm can effectively navigate this danger.

On the mat, Ota is already well placed to learn a series of front-end starters. His series of head nips are incredibly similar, and we’ve even seen him sit down and work what looks like a traditional standing arm guillotine in the past. If he can avoid playing in the guards of his opponents in his first fights and keep the fight controlled in the transition positions, he should be safe.

Working with Krazy Bee’s squad and a dedicated boxing trainer for his strikes is a good sign, but we can be even more encouraged by his wrestling work with Shinya Aoki. Hideo Tokoro is a pretty tough matchup for a novice fighter with no previous MMA experience, but it’s entirely possible that Shinobu Ota is already good enough to beat this caliber of opponent.

Of course, we have no way of knowing how long he has been training or how seriously he takes it. We’ll find out at RIZIN 26 on New Years Eve.


Robert J. King