The Severe Spotlight: Matt Schnell

Outside of the main event, UFC Long Island delivered. Brian Ortega suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first round of his fight with Yair Rodriguez forcing the action to end prematurely. In the co-main event Amanda Lemos sniped Michelle Waterson-Gomez with a nasty jumping guillotine in a grappling transition. Jingliang Li showed us why rankings still matter with a furious finish over Muslim Salikhov. A fight for the ages took place at 125lb between Matt Schnell and Sumudaerji, we will get onto that later.

Shane Burgos took the win over rising 145lb fighter Charles Jourdain in a performance of two halves. Lauren stamped open the main card with a dominant performance over Meisha Tate. Punahele Soriano finished Dalcha Lungiambula with a well set up and timed left hand after Ricky Simon handed Wales’ Jack Shore the first loss of his amateur and professional career with a head and arm choke.

Bill Algeo picked up a win in strange fashion when Herbert Burns refused to rise to his feet during a break in the action. Justin Jacoby sent Da Un Jung on a one way trip to Shadowville, and the card openers Dustin Stoltzfus and Emily Ducote both picked up unanimous decision wins.

The level of fighting in MMA is consistently on the rise. As an MMA community we are more and more treated to fantastic, high-level fighting. However, every so often a fight comes along that causes a unified chorus of awe and wonder. Schnell & Sumudaerji combined for just one of those choruses, the two-stanza duet was as poetic a reference to the essence of MMA as you can hope to encounter.

Going into the contest, the common analysis was that Schnell was more experienced and possibly more well-rounded, but the power of Sumudaerji could be the great equaliser.

Chaos ensued early in the first, Schnell pressuring Sumudaerji with a wide, staunch stance. Aggressive in his pursuit of finding his range, Schnell baits an open chin, whilst looking for low kick counters, bouncing in and out of range with each bait. Sumudaerji doing his best to keep his back from the cage, and finding his exits from the oncoming onslaught, like hidden subway trains in an evacuation. Schnell made the early read that Sumudaerji would bite on the low kicks, or if in the right range would throw a low kick of his own. He used that to his advantage by offering jabs and check left hooks whenever Sumudaerji did throw those low kicks.

With 3:33 left in round one, Schnell ducked under a left hand from Sumudaerji and hits a clean outside trip takedown, tripoding and passing straight to the mount. Sumudaerji, forced to give his back to stop the blows does a great job of hand fighting, misaligning his spine to the chest of Schnell, getting his right shoulder into the inside space, and turning in.

The foreshadowing begins here. Schnell is looking for a triangle. Sumudaerji is wise to the first two attempts and momentarily disengages the closed guard of Schnell to land some strikes. He looks to enter back into the ground exchange with a shin pin, and into some form of half guard, but Schnell does a great job of open guard retention, finds his way into a trap triangle and quickly locking off a full triangle. He rushes in passing the arm across, giving Sumudaerji time to stand, rotate his body toward the side of the lock and stack Schnell.

Sumudaerji escapes his head from the triangle and begins to defend the omoplata. He begins with exactly the right defensive mechanics, stacking into Schnell, and stripping the triangled legs that hold a lock over the shoulder. He tries to add a few extra pizzaz points to his social kitty with an attempted slam counter to the omoplata, but eventually is forced to concede bottom after granby-ing out of the submission attempt.

Both men landing good work from their respective ground positions, Sumudaerji with some fantastic elbows, Schnell with his own long, lunging shots.

Round one ends. Sumudaerji was forced into a choice from the early pressure and takedown of Schnell, to grow into the fight, or not survive the first. He chose to grow, and what resulted in a tooth and nail fight for every position and transition, already a concoction of non-verbal communication battle for dominance of will.

Round two begins much the same, Schnell pressure, low kicks mixed with check left hooks. A low kick seemed to incense Schnell, who began to drive forward with extra heat in his hands. Sumudaerji, to his credit had made the read that if he angled off, or dipped his head the counter was there, and began to catch Schnell on the counter. The first prominent shot, at 4:31 of the second, a slick one two with a left-hand landing flush on the jaw of Schnell. The sight of Schnell stumbling and wobbled becomes apparent, as he auditions for the lead role in the next 2-3 Wolverine films.

Having seemingly recovered lightning fast from the first shot, Schnell looks to get to the hips of Sumudaerji, who turns the corner well and catches Schnell with a right elbow as they disengage from the clinch. Schnell wobbles, again. The shots are both landing cleaner, but the visible impact of Schnell’s jaw wobbling through his skull is also more apparent. The third wobble causes Schell to drop. Sumudaerji, angling to his right lands a left, and see’s nothing come back, he bounces out of the pocket, still see’s no counter, so lunges all his weight through a left hand that meets its mark of Schnell’s jaw, sitting him down.

Adamantium seething through his body, Schnell wrestles up immediately.  3:07, Sumudaerji clasps both hands of Schnell, draws the left hand from the face of Schnell and smashed a right elbow into the side of his head. In one minute and thirty seconds of fighting, Schnell has now been rocked 4 times, and dropped once. Pandemonium.

In the exchange after the elbow, Schnell is rocked enough that he has to take a pause, placing his right hand on the canvas, somehow, he still has the wherewithal to not just see the uppercut coming from Sumudaerji, but to roll under it, disengage from the pocket, and get a guard back. Wild.

Another double hand grab, another right elbow smashed into Schnell, another wobble. That’s five. Schnell doing his utmost to battle back, to turn the tide, to stay in the fight lands a nice right hand, only to be wobbled again by another straight left, staggering back. Six. Sumudaerji swarms, looking again for the double wrist tie elbows, Schnell eats it and returns with a huge right uppercut of his own, forcing Sumudaerji to retreat. To find that shot, in the chaos, amid the pain, the failed equilibrium alone, is unadulterated insanity.

Another Schnell right hand lands, snapping back the head of Sumudaerji, who gives a wry smile of what can only be imagined is disbelief. The Terminator is supposed to be a film, a fiction picture. A laboured left hand see’s Schnell change levels and run the pipe, pure automation.

A hip switch to his left see’s Schnell into a half guard with no knee shield, he smartly walks his hips to his right, rotating the hips of Sumudaerji away from the line of his spine, removing his effective ability to turn in and get a knee shield, but the shin staple of Schnell lands him in a ¾ mount. Immediately progressing into mount, the momentum shift has been completed. Stadium and audience in disbelief, Schnell rains shots from top mount, Sumudaerji holding on. A concerto of elbows open and slice the face of Sumudaerji as Jacob Montalvo takes a very close look at the action.

In a last gasp effort Sumudaerji gets an overhook of Schnells left arm, controls the wrist of his right, and bridges, rolling Schnell to bottom and Sumudaerji to the oasis of top position. That oasis however, had run dry. Schnell during the transition had turned Sumudaerji’s wrist control into his own, and as his back hit the mat, was setting up a triangle. He finds it, and locks his triangle tight.

Elbows, angle changes, more elbows, more angle changes. When finishing a triangle, you generally determine your legs a choking leg, and a locking leg. The most efficient way to finish a triangle, is to line up the hamstring of your choking leg flush with the side of your opponent’s neck. A triangle is a blood choke, removing the blood supply and air supply to the brain, causing someone to go unconscious. Whilst conventional teaching is to finish a triangle square with your opponent, this is using your adductor muscles, and not the full might of your hamstrings.

Schnell, when underhooking the arm of Sumudaerjithat is outside of the triangle, is attempting to cut his body in such an angle that the pressure is not a squeeze of his abductors but instead a scissor motion between his choking and locking leg, much like the motion your legs make when riding a bicycle.

After the final spout of elbows, Schnell gets the angle he needs, he has the underhook so deep he almost has a violin armbar, but is perpendicular to Sumudaerji, this means he is using the full force of his right hamstring to stamp into the neck of Sumudaerji cutting off all the blood and air supply.

Five seconds later, Schnell is telling Montalvo he has rendered Sumudaerji unconscious, and it’s his job to step in and secure the mercy of Sumudaerji’s life.

An insane showing of everything that is richly beautiful about MMA. Technical skill, technical adjustment, heart, will, guts, grit combined with every intangible audience members energy reserve being emptied from the stands, over the top of the canvas, and soaking into both fighters.

Fly never die.`