If you’ve been paying attention to the BJJ world over the past couple of years, you’ll notice one thing. More and more American practitioners are taking over the sport. One of these, is a fellow from Florida called AJ Agazarm. A somewhat polarizing figure in the sport, AJ always gives the crowd an exciting fight. Let’s get to know what makes this guy such a formidable opponent.
The Polarizing AJ Agazarm
If you’ve been paying attention to the BJJ world over the past couple of years, you’ll notice one thing. More and more American practitioners are taking over the sport.
One of these, is a fellow from Florida called AJ Agazarm. A somewhat polarizing figure in the sport, AJ always gives the crowd an exciting fight. Let’s get to know what makes this guy such a formidable opponent.
AJ is a former Division 1 collegiate wrestler. In fact, he’s been an athlete for most of his life. He started with wrestling at high school, which eventually landed him a scholarship to further his studies.
While at a college one of his friend had started competing in MMA. Joining him for an event as a spectator, AJ found himself competing. One of the fighters was a no-show and they needed someone to take his place. Agazarm stood up to the challenge. He actually won the fight, via a choke. This spontaneous success got him excited about the sport. That’s why he originally started BJJ, to compete in MMA.
AJ quickly made it to blue belt, and that’s when he started making an impact in the BJJ world. In 2013 he received his black belt under Eduardo de Lima.
I’m not going to write all his accomplishments. Take a look at some of the accolades he holds:
- 2007 World Champion (Blue belt)
- 2014 World No Gi Champion
- 2013 Pan American No Gi Champion
- 2013 Brazilian National No Gi Champion
The list goes on and on.
He has a pretty impressive resume. One that’s just getting longer as he competes in ‘super fights’ arranged by organizations such as Polaris.
AJ Agazarm Skill Set
It’s nice to know about his achievements, but how did he make them happen? Why is he winning?
He’s had matches with guys such as Jake Shields, Jackson Sousa, Oli Geddes and Daniel Strauss. Basically he has competed with some of the best, with varying degrees of success.
The Single Leg Takedown
The most apparent thing about AJ Agazarm is his wrestling background. It’s easy to see that he is explosive, good on top and has excellent takedowns. Specifically, he loves the single leg.
The single leg takedown is just as it sounds. It’s a sort of tackle that only focuses on one leg. You shoot for the leg and hold on to it as tight as you can. Your head should be pressed against your opponent’s leg, for safety and leverage. Once you learn to offset your opponent’s balance from this position, it will be incredibly difficult to defend your takedown.
AJ Agazarm is one of the few BJJ practitioners who have a flawless single leg. Standing wrestling tends to be a weakness for a lot of BJJ guys.
Not for AJ.
This means that he also tends to end up on top… a lot. In most cases that’s where you want to be when grappling. Checkout this short highlight reel. You’ll see how many of his opponents struggle with this aspect of his game.
You’ll notice how grabbing the leg by itself doesn’t actually achieve anything. He still needs to drive forward, or a little to the side to complete the takedown. To do this effectively you need to behave like a rabid pit-bull. A pit-bull locks its jaw after biting its victim. You need to squeeze the leg to your chest, to make sure your opponent doesn’t wiggle out of your grasp.
AJ is quite fit. He’s a physical guy to boot, but he is physical and dynamic. Once in a while you’ll see him do a fancy transition when he’s on top of his opponent. What’s so impressive about this is the ease that he does it with.
This skill is a combination of his wrestling and BJJ training. The powerful movements of wrestling mixed with the sleek movements of BJJ. Transitioning fluidly into different positions easily helps you create new angles of attack.
It’s also a great way to overwhelm and piss of an opponent. Especially if he/she doesn’t have the kind of endurance you have.
You can see examples of this at 15secs and 1.15min into this video:
This video is a pretty good example of how AJ Agazarm approaches BJJ as a whole.
These transitions require you to pivot around a point. Normally, that means using your hands to pivot around an opponent’s chest, head or shoulders. You actually put your weight on your opponent’s body when doing this. Using him as the central point. When done well you can momentarily control the position of the opponent to readjust your own.
For instance, if you are face to face with a sitting opponent you can place one hand on his head and the other on his shoulder. As you push downwards with both your hands, you are now controlling the head. Where the head goes the body follows. It’s difficult to get your bearings if someone is constantly pushing your head aside. From here you can jump and spin behind him. Much like what AJ does.
The Finish: Chokes and Armbars
One thing you notice about AJ Agazarm is that he isn’t exactly a specialist. He is well rounded, but a lot of guys are well rounded at the level he competes.
What I mean by this is that he isn’t amazing at doing toeholds or armbars or triangles, he’s just very good.
Lots of black belts are known for zeroing in on specific ways to finish an opponent.
That’s one thing that AJ lacks.
From his current 93 wins, 49 of them came by points and 37 of them came by submission.
His 37 submission wins come from a mix of techniques. 11 of these wins came from chokes and 9 from armbars.
His skill and athleticism gives him the opportunities to get these finishes, but finishing the top fight of BJJ with a choke or armbar isn’t an easy thing.
AJ Agazarm himself is a good example of this. The last time he lost to a choke was in 2015. The last time he lost to an armbar was in 2014.
It’s a difficult thing to find highlights of AJs submission wins on Youtube. If you go to the 4.00min mark of this video you’ll see some examples.
Undeniably, AJ Agazarm is a great BJJ practitioner. His physicality, speed and explosiveness perfectly match his skill and dexterity.
He has the makings of nearly everything you need to succeed in the sport. Once he decides to up his submission and finishing game, he’ll be a serious threat to anyone on this planet. Until then we’ll have to be entertained by his antics (such as constantly removing his gum guard and getting slapped by his competitors).
There is one thing you can’t take away from Agazarm however. He tries his best to make his matches aggressive and entertaining. Many times he is the one who sets the pace. Win or lose, it’s worth spending your money to see this guy compete.
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Robert Sterling // Author
AJ Agazarm is a great BJJ American practitioner. His physicality, speed and explosiveness perfectly match his skill and dexterity.