The influx of wrestlers joining MMA and doing well in their respective weight divisions shows that wrestlers have the upper hand when it comes to takedowns. Because of the nature of wrestling, especially freestyle wrestling, grabbing and controlling one’s opponent comes along easily. The conditioning that wrestlers are used to in their regular wrestling training also translates well into MMA training. They’re used to tough training, and that’s what MMA is all about.
Although you’ll rarely see complex, advanced wrestling at work inside the cage, a simple, yet highly effective wrestling game could help a striker/grappler do well in MMA.
Takedowns In MMA
In MMA, setting up a takedown is often done with strikes. You can also attempt to do a simple bum rush, but it could be very risky, especially if you’re up against an experienced striker. If you are looking to take your opponent down to the ground, you can also use the cage to put pressure on him. Although the sturdiness of the cage might prove to be a challenge when finishing a takedown, due to the support it provides, escaping the grinding pressure and chain of attacks you can throw at your opponent may make it very unpleasant.
Here are some of the best wrestling takedowns for MMA:
The double leg takedown is the first takedown you’ll learn in any wrestling class. It is the simplest and most effective takedown that anyone can add to their repertoire. Hence, it is the bread and butter of every MMA fighter who wants to take the fight to the ground. Former UFC Welterweight World Champion Georges St-Pierre has one of the most effective double leg takedowns in MMA history, even using it against more accomplished wrestlers such as All-American Josh Koscheck.
Famously utilized by Dan Henderson in many of his fights, the body lock, especially the full body lock, is one of the most awe-inspiring takedowns in the sport. Although some versions of the body lock are less risky than the full body lock, there’s no doubt that the full body lock is highlight reel worthy. A properly executed body lock will result in your opponent’s feet lifting off the mat and him rotating all the way over to his back.
One of the best times to use the inside trip takedown is when you have your opponent pinned against the cage. As he tries to defend the double leg takedown, he will settle his hips down, moving his feet away from the cage. When he does this, it gives you the perfect opening to hook the back of your calf around the back of his calf and sweep his foot.
As an MMA fighter, you have submissions and strikes to look out for. Unlike the double leg, you typically shoot for the single leg with your head on the inside, making it difficult for anyone to attempt a guillotine choke on you. Another advantage of the single leg takedown is the many options it offers you in terms of a follow-up move. You can easily switch to a double leg or even a trip, depending on your agility.
One of the simplest ways to get a fight to the ground is by using the snap down. The snap down allows you to use all your body weight and strength to control your opponent as you snap down his head, forcing him over and to the ground. This takedown is especially effective if you’re already controlling your opponent with a Muay Thai clinch/plum, especially since you have one arm on his head to pull him down.
In order for your takedowns to be effective, remember the following:
You must set them up properly
As we mentioned above, you can set your takedown up with strikes. But if your striking doesn’t work and your opponent starts to counter, you can slip or parry his punches, change levels and shoot for the takedown. Remember, you must always be no further than an arm’s length distance away from your opponent when you shoot for a takedown. By remembering this, you will always be able to land those strikes that give you the opening for the takedown.
You should link your attacks
The more skilled your opponent is, the more likely he’ll block your takedown attempt. You should always link your attacks and have a counter attack ready based on your opponent’s reactions.