Competitor Study: 18-Year-Old No-Gi Phenom William Tackett

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William Tackett’s run through the JitzKing 16-man 165lb tournament was a showcase of the 18-year-old’s no-gi talents. Let's take a look at his game.

Tackett has been gaining traction in the last nine months. He won 2018 No-Gi Worlds as a blue belt, shortly after taking fourth place at the ADCC East Coast Trials. A promotion to purple belt came soon after, and he leveled up with a silver at the ADCC West Coast Trials in February of this year. 

Keeping the momentum going, Tackett has had a good summer. Last month he got a submission win at Third Coast Grappling in Houston on Friday night, then on Sunday had flown to Chicago to win the Midwest Finishers 16-man 170lb submission-only tournament with four submissions in four matches. 

We’ve been watching Tackett for a while and he has a few key strengths, namely: 

  • Solid wrestling– he and his younger brother Andrew train wrestling for their grappling but have the benefit of working with training partner Kody Steele (he of the infamous suplexes). 
  • Good top game– he has a killer body lock pass that he uses to his right side, which often surprises people as most grapplers pass to their left. It’s a small detail but a crucial one. 
  • Great leg lock game– both offense and defense. Tackett knows the set-ups, the entries and exits that are crucial to playing no-gi in the modern era. Heel hooks most definitely included. 
  • Back attacks– from good old rear naked chokes to kimuras and armbars, Tackett has multiple weapons from the back. 

With four matches in one night, Tackett showed a bit of everything at JitzKing. Let’s take a look at his winning performances and see what were the keys to victory. 

1. William Tackett vs Werther Marciales (opening match, 16-man tournament)

Wrestling was the key to setting the pace in this match. Tackett’s use of the front headlock led to multiple darce and anaconda choke attacks, but the front headlock would later open up the back control which is where he found the rear naked choke. The sweep from half guard is something we’ve seen him use in many of his matches. 

WATCH: William Tackett vs Werther Marciales

Defining moment: The use of the front headlock in opening up the back 


2. William Tackett vs Enrico Cocco (second round of 16-man tournament) 

100% a leglock battle, Tackett was able to shut out the ADCC veteran Cocco and get the sub in 1.15. Setting up the kneebar from bottom, he transitioned to the inside and then the outside heel hook for a clinical finish. Cocco wasn’t able to get anything going, which is surprising considering his experience. 

WATCH: William Tackett vs Enrico Cocco

Defining moment: The leg lock entry, because from here it was one-way traffic. 


3. William Tackett vs Emilio Hernandez (tournament semifinal)

The tournament semifinal saw Tackett play patiently in defending the leg locks, timing Hernandez’s leglock entry to go to the back where he cycled through attacks before taking an armbar. If he’d seen Hernandez’s earlier matches, it showed in his strategy. Tackett sat to guard and played exclusively from bottom, which made it harder for his opponent to enter into strong attacking positions for the leg locks. 

WATCH: William Tackett vs Emilio Hernandez 

Defining moment: The series of back attacks that led to the submission


4. William Tackett vs Mauricio Gomez (tournament final) 

The final was by far Tackett’s most challenging match– it was the only one that went the distance. He deftly handled the leg lock shootouts, and this is the match where we got to see Tackett passing the guard. Remember that body lock we were talking about earlier? We saw that one come out to play, as well as a nifty step over the X-guard right into a mounted omoplata that he nearly turned into an armbar. The points he racked up along the way saw him winning via a definitive 12-0. 

WATCH: William Tackett vs Mauricio Gomez

Defining moment: The stepover defense to the X-guard that put Tackett directly into an attacking position 


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