Half Minute Highlight: Michael Liera Jr at Fight 2 Win 136

Each week the Half Minute Highlight will break down a sequence you may have missed from the week’s grappling. We won’t only focus on the big names or the flashiest techniques – they speak for themselves. We want to highlight the interesting bits of a match you might have overlooked. Click here to see the full collection of Half Minute Highlights.

Whenever Fight 2 Win lands in San Diego we can expect a card full-to-the-brim with high level talent and competitive matches. Fight 2 Win 136 in the ‘mecca of jiujitsu’ was no exception. The card featured no fewer than twenty-four(!) black-belt matches with world champs and legends in abundance. A matchup between Michael Liera Jr (Atos) and Piter Frank (Alliance) stood out for its short duration and violent finish but also the tricky guard work on display.  

Michael Liera Jr has been a staple of the Fight 2 Win circuit lately, going 5-0 with three submission victories with the promotion. Competing in super fights has not always been the norm for Liera Jr who has really made his name on the IBJJF competition scene, with notable title spots at IBJJF Pan-Americans and Europeans as well as multiple World Championship titles at each of the coloured belts. In addition to his recent run of super fights Liera took a massive step in his personal career, moving from his post at Atos as Andre Galvao’s right-hand man to open his own gym in Denver, Colorado. Lōgōs Jiu Jitsu has been open since December 2019. 

The Sao Paulo native Piter Frank trains out of Alliance San Diego and is so far 2-1 in Fight 2 Win events. Since moving to the US in 2016 Frank has picked up a brace of titles in the IBJJF Pan American Championships, American Nationals and Brazilian Nationals. 

This bout was a rematch of an earlier meeting between Liera and Frank at the Five Grappling Super League event in 2017. In a back and forth match Liera attacked with strong passing attempts and back attacks while Frank offered up dangerous knee-bars and ankle locks from 50/50 in an attempt to keep Liera at bay. The match ended in regulation and Frank secured the resulting referee decision to take the match. 

This match on Fight 2 Win took a very different route, with Liera using his speed and technical guard work to secure a nasty finish over Frank. We’re going to dive into Liera’s tricky DLR guard on display in this Half Minute Highlight. 

The Set Up

The match commences with Liera taking a southpaw wrestling stance, leading with his right leg. Using his rear left hand he reaches for the lapel to make a grip before a quick guard pull. He posts his right leg on Frank’s hip while making a low pants grip on the same side. As Frank begins to posture up and look to pass to his right, Liera shifts both of his legs outside of Frank’s making simultaneous shallow De la Riva hooks on both sides as well as low pants grips on both sides. 

The Sequence

Using the control of the double DLR hooks and the double pants grips, Liera squeezes his legs together above Frank’s knees, eventually connecting his feet. With his left arm, Liera relinquishes the same side pants grip and punches the right-hand pants grip across to his left. With his free left arm, Liera makes a cross grip on the opposite leg behind Frank’s leg. Now safe to remove his right-hand grip he shifts to grip Frank’s belt. If this sounds complex, it is! Bear in mind that Liera makes this grip switching sequence in less than two seconds. To sum it up, Liera now has a cross-grip on Frank’s pants behind the leg, a DLR hook, and a belt grip. Check the images below for a re-creation of the grips.

The Consequences 

Realising the danger, Frank turns away from the DLR hook to begin to step over Liera’s non-hooking leg. However, with the cross-pants grip, Liera has slowed Frank’s turn. Using the slowed momentum he executes a quick hop over the leg and swings into a baby-bolo. Frank tries a last ditch attempt to dive on a toehold but he’s too late, Liera is already squarely on his back. He wastes no time in attacking from the back, locking up a rear naked choke across Frank’s face and forcing the tap.  

In true Half Minute Highlight fashion the entire match lasts around 45 seconds from handshake to final tap. The real defining moment was the subtle grip shifting that Michael Liera Jr accomplished in rapid speed. Frank made the correct defensive adjustments if his pants leg was not gripped in that particular way. With that grip Liera exploited the common defensive reaction and made short work of the resulting back take. With this win, Liera has decisively avenged his earlier loss to Frank and shown off his lightning quick offensive guard. We’re definitely tuning in for the next showing from Liera on F2W to see if he can extend his unbeaten streak with the promotion.

Joe Mills

Joe Mills is one of the writing staff here at Grappling Insider. Living in Auckland, New Zealand, Joe has been training out of Atos Auckland/City Kickboxing for about five years. Joe is a self-professed technique nerd and follows as much competitive grappling as he can get his eyes on. You can follow him on Instagram @obearded for cat pics and occasional training snaps.

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