Here’s What You Need To Know About Ground And Pound In MMA

As with pretty much everything in modern MMA, nothing is immune to evolution or progression.

Ground and pound (G & P) – love it or hate it – is no different. From the early days of the UFC, when Royce Gracie was owning opponents without throwing a shot on the floor, to the modern trend of wrestler/boxers snapping up most titles, ground and pound has been an important part of the sport.

Mark Coleman is the man credited with coining the term ground and pound and is considered one of the early exponents of this style. Many may feel that G & P and style don’t really mix, given its reputation for brutality and being nothing more than a means to bash an ugly opponent’s face pretty, and vice versa.

Those who discredit just how important it is to MMA will also probably have no concept of the skill and technique which goes into it, however. You see, modern MMA is not like the old days. Fighters are required to have a good ground game. An average mixed martial artist needs to be well-versed in takedown defense, submission defense, and generally how to operate when they are out of their comfort zones.

Working Your Way into Position 

This makes it difficult for the ground and pounder to do his work. In order to establish yourself in a position to land significant and powerful strikes on the floor, you need certain things to work in your favor. For example:

Position: This will determine what strikes you can expect to land when on the floor. Can you work yourself into full-mount, side control, back mount, etc?

Control: You will need the right balance and execution to keep your opponent where he is or to maneuver him where you want him to go.

Opponent’s Skill Level: If your opponent is a talented ground fighter, you may be playing into his hands by taking him down. Is it in your favor at all to take the fight to the mat?

While all three of these fundamental qualities are important in improving your ground and pound game, one of them will be out of your control. This is, of course, your opponent’s skill level on the floor.

For many amateur fighters – or those without the luxury of having hours of YouTube footage to look over when preparing for an opponent – it is hard to know how skillful an opponent could be on the floor. This is something which will only be found out once the fight goes that way. However, if you know you are fighting someone with a strong submission game, you may want to be a little smarter in how you use your ground and pound.

Keeping Your Dominant Position

It is one thing working your way into a position of dominance, but your opponent is unlikely to let you stay there.

Even if the fighter you have on his back is not a submission specialist, he may be very well versed in the art of defense from the bottom. Controlling his hips and establishing a wide base over him will effectively keep his bottom half where you want it. When it comes to landing strikes, your opponent will be doing all he can to keep you from finding the space to do so.

The best position to reign blows down on your opponent’s face is from the posture up position. If you think about it, this position offers the perfect marriage of space, distance, body positioning, and control. The space between you and your opponent is widened, meaning the distance allows you to generate more power. Your body position over your opponent’s hips keeps him in check and in a position of vulnerability.

Now, in order to keep this position, you first have to do some work. Your opponent will be scrambling and trying to release his hips. When you have passed guard you will still have to deal with your opponent trying to pull your head down to prevent you from establishing control.

From this position, you want to mix up strikes to the head or body, without having your arms trapped or wrists locked by your opponent. While you lay down some pretty heavy shots from here, using your fists or elbows, you are far from being in a position of zero vulnerability.

Neutralizing the Opponent

When you are striking your opponent, the key is to remember to open up the side of the body you are looking to attack.

For example, if you are attacking with your right hand/elbow, then you want to open up the left side of the opponent. You know that you must find leverage and space to attack, and your first reaction may be to push down on his chest with your left hand. Of course, your opponent will look to hold on to your left wrist in order to keep you from finding that space or to counter from the bottom.

Your best bet in this scenario is to use your dominant position to stifle your opponent on the floor. You are aiming to strike with the right fist/elbow, but are met with resistance by your opponent holding on to the wrists. You will want to move your right arm to the right while slipping your left hand under his right wrist. Then, you want to hold his left wrist in place by using your body weight to push down and fold them into his chest.

Once you press down on them by using weight from above – with your right shoulder folding over his left slightly – you can free up the right fist and punch to the side of the head/jaw. Your shots should be considerable enough to cause sufficient damage which may see the fight ended by the referee, that is if you haven’t knocked him out.

By understanding the options an opponent has on the floor, you can develop a pretty sound strategy for taking these away. In other words, if you leave your opponent with little less than the option to restrain your wrists when you’re on top, allow them to panic and you will find a way to end the contest.


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