Match Breakdown: Cobrinha vs. Rader – No-Gi Worlds 2011


Justin Rader had faced Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles when the Lovato student was a brown belt. It was a major highlight for the young competitor since it showed that, although he lost, he could hang with the best in the world.

Rader’s base is difficult for anyone to contend with; it’s been honed on the wrestling mats since he was four years old. The last time they were paired up Cobrinha had a surprising amount of trouble sweeping the brown belt. This match, which took place in Long Beach, California, during the finals of the 2011 No-Gi Worlds Pena division, was much different.

Check out the video below for the match, which I narrated. If you dig the commentary let me know and I’ll continue to do it for future matches, otherwise I’d be happy to not have to hear my own voice ever again! Of course a full written breakdown is below as well.


Match Breakdown – Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles vs. Justin Rader – No-Gi Worlds 2011



Right away, Cobrinha’s strategy of using the reverse de la Riva guard to set up back takes and singles was highly refined. Cobrinha is able to consistently spin under Rader using the inverted reverse DLR making this a much more dynamic match than their first encounter. One of the reasons that I wanted to take a closer look at this match was to see how Cobrinha employed the reverse DLR against an opponent with a solid base. Cobrinha is able to invert by primarily using overhooks on Rader’s legs. The overhooks give Cobrinha a great deal of control, and he is able to switch to an underhook when he decides to elevate Rader’s leg to attempt a single leg takedown. By elevating Rader’s legs in this position Cobrinha is able to exert control over Rader’s ability to generate power to escape.

Check the video below for The Jiu Jitsu Lab breakdown of the inverted reverse DLR.


Jiu Jitsu Lab – Inverted Reverse de la Riva 


Rader attempts to escape Cobrinha’s inverted reverse DLR position by turning towards the outside leg. Following the inversion from the reverse DLR it’s common to have one leg inside and one leg outside the opponent’s legs. Some people try to pull the outside leg in for a “waterfall” style back take – as shown here by Rafael Mendes. This can be difficult without a gi, so Cobrinha keeps one leg outside and uses his over and underhooks to keep Rader’s legs isolated. This allows Rader to turn towards the top leg and potentially free himself from the position if he is able to remove his oppnent’s control over his opposite leg. He is unable to do so, however, and continually gives up position in his attempt.

The Lovato black belt is determined to use a guard bypass technique – the rolling front headlock. Sometimes used as a guillotine choke set up, the rolling headlock is a great way to avoid a difficult guard and achieve some control. Rader is attempting to get low and press forward, nullifying Cobrinha’s guard and controlling the grips. From here he’s looking to loop his arm around his opponent’s head. This leaves both competitors looking to the ceiling momentarily, and it takes a great deal of sensitivity and control to feel which way your opponent is turning and beating them to it while maintaining the front headlock. This technique was shown to us by Rader’s coach, Rafael Lovato Jr., and there are some key details involved with gaining control over your opponent. Unfortunately Rader has difficulty implementing them against a veteran like Cobrinha.

Cobrinha’s defense to the rolling front headlock is to roll with Rader, preventing the latter from getting control over his head. By rolling with the attacker Cobrinha is able to come up beside him, often gaining an underhook or collar tie. From this position Cobrinha either attempts to hit a single, take the back, or leap into a triangle. The triangle doesn’t come close here, but the back take from the underhook works beautifully starting at 5:13 of the above video.

As Rader hesitates slightly, sensing that maybe he can get on top, Cobrinha has used his leg to block Rader’s leg, allowing him to prevent Rader from turning in. This creates a short scramble where Cobrinha is able to use his underhook to latch onto Rader’s back. As Cobrinha senses that his second hook is blocked he immediately locks in a tight Kimura grip. Not only is the Kimura grip from the back great control, but it allows him to transition to a nasty armlock when Rader rolls to defend. It’s almost a reversal of Rafael Mendes’s amazing transition on Rader at ADCC 2011.


Photo: Dan Rod from GracieMag. 


Unfortunately this match was also controversial, as Rader and Lovato pointed out the inconsistent enforcement of the guard pulling rules. Following the match, Lovato took to Facebook to discuss the scoring. He pointed out several times when Cobrinha sat down again after standing for an incomplete sweep. There was some confusion about whether Cobrinha was able to sit guard again following a sweep attempt. Although the IBJJF did a fantastic job with their new rulebook, the no-gi rules are not posted online so it’s difficult to clarify.

Lovato asserts that the guard pulling issue was enough to throw Rader off his game, giving up a stalling penalty when attempting to highlight Cobrinha’s lack of engagement. Additionally, as Rader shoots in for a frustrated takedown, Cobrinha sits guard again. Based on the IBJJF rules, according to Article 1, Rule 3.6 – “Athletes who begin a takedown movement before the opponent pulls guard shall be awarded two points or an advantage point for the move.” The convention is that Rader should have received two points, but he was not awarded points or an advantage for the guard pull.

Getting back to the amazing Jiu Jitsu on display in this match, the highlight for me is right at the end of the match, when Rader is getting frustrated. He attempts several guard passes, leaping from one to the next in a desperate attempt to regain his deficit. Cobrinha defends and waits for his opportunity. It comes when Rader over-commits to his pass and gives up an omoplata. As he postures out of the omoplata as he has previously, Cobrinha is able to entangle his legs and work his way up to a deep waist control, from which he immediately springs into a back take that ends out of bounds. Cobrinha is exceptionally good at taking advantage of every opportunity without hesitation, something I’ve been told I need to work on in my own game.

The match ends with Cobrinha up on points. Both competitors displayed amazing Jiu Jitsu, but the Alliance veteran is able to dethrone the reigning champion and reassert his spot as the second best featherweight in the world.


Photo: Dan Rod from GracieMag. 

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Filed under Jiu Jitsu Stuff

2 responses to “Match Breakdown: Cobrinha vs. Rader – No-Gi Worlds 2011

  1. Thanks for posting this breakdown, awesome stuff!

  2. rolling commentary is always good to hear while watching. i like breakdowns like this, similar to bjj weekly’s rolling commentary with various black belts.

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