In September 2017, we witnessed the rare occurrence of what might be a jiu-jitsu rebrand. Ovince Saint Preux secured his third Von Flue choke submission win (one of five in UFC history), and with it, the position’s new moniker, the “Von Preux.”
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Several fighters on the UFC roster also show a proclivity for certain submissions, and newcomer Bobby Moffett has racked up six wins by D’Arce choke throughout his 14-3 career.
“I hope it’s some kind of record, that would be pretty cool – I’m going for four D’Arces in a row now,” Moffett told John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock.
The 28-year-old BJJ black belt wrestled throughout high school and says his progression of the move was simply a case of taking a trip down memory lane.
“[the D’Arce] comes all the way from wrestling; a move called a three-quarter Nelson. I remember my friends would make fun of me because it was supposed to be a kids move, but I was pretty good at it and could do it to almost anyone at times.”
“It’s been a long journey learning the move for back from wrestling all the way through all my years of jiu-jitsu and I’m starting to really feel like I’m perfecting it now.”
Learning from defeat
For many, UFC 235 was more notable for the controversial stoppage of Ben Askren and Robbie Lawler’s welterweight tilt than the remarkable performances from Kamaru Usman and Johnny Walker.
Moffett is a fighter who has been on both ends of a questionable stoppage, losing to Thanh Le in their LFA Interim Featherweight Championship fight last January, a result that took its toll.
“I felt like, man, I’m right on the cusp of getting into the UFC, and then this fight happens, and it gets taken from me and there goes my opportunity. I felt the highest of highs before going in, and then the lowest of lows, like, oh man, my dream’s never going to happen.”
But Moffett counts it among his most valuable experiences as a young prospect and in such an emotionally raw line of work, believes it has and will continue, to serve him in good stead,
“Having to come back from that, it, that fight made me a different fighter, you know, emotionally, mentally, how I prepare for fights.”
More recently, “The Wolfman” scored a controversial submission win over Chas Skelly at UFC Fight Night 139. Despite an undeniably impressive performance – weathering Skelly’s four-minute back-mount in the first round to secure the stoppage via Brabo choke – Tim Mills’ decision to stop the fight struck a nerve of many observers. A nerve that Herb Dean strained by pulling Askren off Lawler two weeks ago in Las Vegas.
Moffett, like many of us watching, thought Dean’s stoppage was warranted.
“It looked to me like he [Robbie] was out at that moment, and then he pulls him off and he wasn’t out, it was crazy…”
Skelly’s body reacted very differently to the choke according to Moffett.
“When Herb pulled [Robbie’s] arm, when you show the slow replay, you can see Robbie give some give, he tries to pull his arm up a little bit or something like that. And when they did that with Chas Skelly, he had nothing to give.”
Despite the controversy, the win only served to buoy Moffett’s confidence. Now heading into his UFC Fight Night 148 tilt with undefeated TUF 27 breakout star, Bryce Mitchell, he’s in a better mindset than ever before. October last year saw him briefly touted to face the perennial slugger and training partner of Conor McGregor, Artem Lobov, but the fight was never made. Now, following his victory over Skelly, some could say that Mitchell represents a backward step in the path to UFC gold, but for Moffett, it’s all about putting miles on the clock.
“I wouldn’t ever call anybody a step backward… Because Mitchell, whether he lost on The Ultimate Fighter or not, you know, he’s still undefeated. I always have high aspirations to fight the best dudes in the division and to become the champion, but I think winning in the UFC, whether it’s against a veteran or someone like Bryce Mitchell, I’m still winning in the UFC. It doesn’t matter who it is against.”
The MMA Lab
Training out of The MMA Lab in Phoenix, Arizona, Moffett is one of a swell of up-and-coming MMA fighters and world-class MMA brains who call it home, including former UFC and now Bellator lightweight, Benson Henderson, and Tim Welch, head coach of “Suga” Sean O’Malley. The value of this talent pool is not lost on Moffett, and he’s taking full advantage to develop his skills, particularly on the feet under striking master Eddie Cha.
“He [Eddie] is like a wizard when it comes to being on the feet, you’re just watching him move, and you’re like, I want to move like that. I’ve been spending a lot of time with him these last couple of camps, he [brings] a whole level of a striking that I haven’t been really exposed to.”
Cha’s expertise plays a significant part in the success of the camp’s fighters, not least that of the often overlooked Bellator featherweight talent, Henry “OK” Corrales, who recently managed a knockout win over young phenom, Aaron Pico. It was a win that brought the team together in celebration, that one of their own finally got deserved recognition.
“It was motivational, to watch to see someone that you know very well go through the lowest of lows in a fight and then come back and get the highest of highs and that same fight, to come back and to finish someone that everybody is gloating about… We watched it at the fighter house, screaming at the top of our lungs. It was just the best.”
The MMA Lab has also ensured that he’s putting in rounds with fighters mimicking Mitchell’s strong jiu-jitsu game. As a result, Moffett hopes to experience déjà vu when he steps into the cage on March 23, as he’ll be supremely confident in his extensive grappling background.
“It’s almost like two times a week I’m fighting Bryce Mitchell, I’m practicing the actual fight.”
“He’s not going to be able to go submission for submission with me, and eventually I’m going to put one on him, and he’s not going to be able to get out of it.”
Moffett is certainly not overlooking Mitchell as an opponent and knows the significance of the task ahead but already has high hopes for his career in 2019 hoping a quick win would put him in position to fight again in June when the UFC returns to the United Center, home of his beloved Chicago Bulls.
Two more bouts in October and December would see a four-fight tally for 2019 which, results depending, could be the springboard he needs to the top-10 and a place amongst the elite.
“I think my stock is only going to go higher after I continue winning.”
If history is anything to go by, Bobby Moffett will be looking for a D’Arce submission victory. If so, don’t bet against him renaming the D’Arce as his own.
“’The Full Moon’ would be cool…”
You can watch John Hyon Ko’s full interview with Bobby Moffett below, and subscribe to Kumite TV for more interviews.
Rhodri Morgan is a combat sports writer based out of London, England. When not covering MMA, he can be found roaming the halls of a south London Wholefoods, finding a dog to befriend and rolling in the doomed pursuit of the perfect kimura.