WNO 24

Breakdown: The Evolution Of Tainan Dalpra's Wrestling

Breakdown: The Evolution Of Tainan Dalpra's Wrestling

Tainan Dalpra has only done two no-gi matches as a black belt. As he gets ready for his third, we take a look at just how good his wrestling has gotten.

Jun 13, 2024 by Joe Gilpin

When Tainan Dalpra announced his plans to transition to no-gi competition, it was one of the biggest stories in jiu-jitsu. The two-time IBJJF World Champion had mowed through the gi scene and was left with few challenges as the middleweight king. Since then, he has gone 2-0 in no-gi matches with both coming at WNO.

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One of the biggest questions about Tainan's transition was how he would handle the wrestling and stand up fighting in no-gi. In the gi, he was known primarily as a guard puller who would be most interested in getting the fight down and getting to work as soon as possible. How would he adapt to this new skill that he had very little competition experience in?

The answer so far is that it has been a success. There are still some areas that could be cleaned up, but overall Dalpra has shown a lot of skill on the feet while facing Troy Russell and Oliver Taza. Through about 20 minutes of no-gi, with about half of that happening on the feet, he is 4-0 in takedowns - meaning he is averaging one takedown roughly every 2:30 minutes and still hasn't surrendered one of his own.

As far as stance and style, Tainan has adopted a very upright posture with his shoulders bent forward and elbows tight to his body. Through two matches he has marched forward with a lot of pressure into the opponent, primarily controlling hands but also digging into collar ties. It's a very hybrid stance between judo and wrestling.

From that hand grip, usually on the left side, he is beginning to build offense. He will drag that arm across and set up single leg entries or trips, he will take simple trip attempts at the moving feet, and even pick at the knees to both sides.

What's been especially impressive have been his takedown finishes. In the Troy match, he entered in on a single leg and pretty quickly finished with a change of momentum, using a cutback-like motion to secure top position right into side control. Against Taza, for his first takedown he went to build to the hips in the same way but was denied - so instead he transitioned right away to elevating the leg and tripping down for a finish. Throughout that Taza match especially he showed a variety of finishes to leg attacks that belied his experience on the feet at this level.

There are still some areas that could be cleaned up more, like trying to shoot in bad positions and certain moments where Tainan's own forward pressure is costing him some balance. Coming into this next match with Jay Rodriguez we will likely see this one key area tested - his takedown defense.

Intuitive takedown defense typically takes longer for most grapplers to build because of how quickly positions can change in a wrestling scramble. Only when you fully understand the position can you be ahead of the sequence and defend with the fluidity that we see from experienced wrestlers. It takes time to develop.

Against Oliver, who does compete down at 170lbs as well, Tainan was primarily trying to pull up any shots into an upper body clinch where he could use the overhook to throw. He tried uchi mata and kata garuma from this position but couldn't capitalize. When Taza did get to his hips, he was still very upright while he fished for the overhook. Something that Tainan does do well is counter-attack, often following up his opponent's shot with his own reshot that is more open as a result.

If these habits still persist against Jay Rod, it could be a major factor in the matchup. However, Tainan has shown some really serious skills for this far along in his no-gi career so we can expect that rate of improvement to have continued. How he enters this match is anyone's guess - and you'll have to tune into WNO 24: Ryan vs Saunders on June 20th to find out.

WNO 24 Full Card

  • Main Card
    • WNO Heavyweight Championship - #1 Gordon Ryan vs Josh Saunders
    • WNO Featherweight Championship - Diego Pato vs Fabricio Andrey
    • WNO Middleweight Championship - Jacob Couch vs Jonnatas Gracie
    • Heavyweight Bout - Victor Hugo vs Javier Zaruski
    • Middleweight Bout - Tainan Dalpra vs Jay Rodriguez
    • Flyweight Bout - Ana Rodrigues vs Adele Fornarino
    • Welterweight Bout - Elijah Dorsey vs Jozef Chen
    • Lightweight Bout - Deandre Corbe vs Ethan Crelinsten
  • Undercard
    • Heavyweight Bout - Felipe Costa vs Declan Moody
    • Flyweight Bout - Taylor Hishaw vs Lauren Sears
    • Lightweight Bout - Andrew DeGraff vs Jordan Holy

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