7 MMA Takedowns to Help You Control the Game

MMA takedowns are exhilarating. It’s a sure fire crowd pleaser when a fighter gets the opponent to the ground. But what are MMA takedowns, and how do you do them?

Before we get into that, let’s talk about MMA. Mixed Martial Arts is one of the world’s most popular full-contact combat sports, and nearly every country in the world now practices it. MMA in Australia, in particular, has become very active. It has become popular as a fitness activity, with many schools offering MMA classes for beginners all over the world. It’s also become an option for aspiring fighters seeking to become champions.

Fighters round up their skills when they compete. Grapplers learn to strike and strikers learn to grapple. This brings up a need to transition a fight from standing to ground, hence the need for MMA takedowns. The takedowns are also a good reason why MMA fights happen in a cage. In a cage, it’s virtually impossible to fall out and interrupt the fight.

As the name implies, MMA takedowns are when you take an opponent down from standing to a sitting or lying position. This is done through various maneuvers to unbalance them and bring them to the canvas. In this article, we’ll talk about the different types of takedowns and how to execute them. 

  • Takedowns in martial arts

    There are different varieties of takedowns, with their etiology coming from traditional martial arts. Most of them required the use of uniforms called Gi or Dōgi, which are sturdy enough to withstand rough handling and harsh pulling. These uniforms became critical in the execution of several takedowns which required decent handholds.

    As combat sports evolved, though, takedowns from traditional martial arts became obsolete. Men fought bare-chested, and women wore sports bras and rash guards, which aren’t any better in terms of providing grips. 

    Instead, takedowns from lightly-uniformed martial arts became more practical. Takedowns from the likes of wrestling and No-Gi BJJ proved to be effective as MMA Takedowns. In fact, masters of wrestling takedowns dominated MMA matches in the early UFC tournaments.

  • Takedowns vs throws

    Takedowns are any maneuver that gets a fight from standing to ground. It’s easily interchanged with throws, but there is a slight difference. The difference lies in that throws are a subset of takedowns where the opponent’s feet are completely separated from the ground and some point. 

  • Different types of takedowns

    Throughout modern MMA history, takedowns changed the pace of many matches. They allowed fighters to strike their opponents while in a dominant position, minimized the damage inflicted on them, and provided more openings for fighters to knock their opponents out cold.

    You can land on the top or the bottom when you do a takedown. In BJJ, it doesn’t matter much as long as you do take your opponent down. In MMA, though, it’s important that you stay on top since the top fighter has the advantage of striking the one below.

    Knowing the different takedowns will give you an arsenal of options when the opportunity presents itself. That said, let’s get into the different MMA takedowns and how to do them.

  • 1 Double leg takedown

    The double leg takedown is arguably the best MMA takedown out there. Once you’ve got both your opponent’s feet off the ground, there’s little chance they’ll get out of it still standing.

    To do the double leg, you have to get close enough and low enough to grab both legs. Keep real close and press your shoulder and head against your opponent’s chest. From here, you can either lift with your legs and core or just drive straight forward to topple them down.

  • 2 Single leg takedowns

    The single-leg takedown happens when you grab an opponent’s leg and lift it off the ground to topple your opponent. It’s not as effective as the double leg takedown, and you can easily regain your balance if you happen to escape before you fall.

    Another downside to the single-leg takedown is that the head is pretty much exposed to the arm opposite the leg you’re holding. So if someone’s trying to take you down, you can push against the head to try and leverage them off you.

    Watch this video to see how it’s done.

  • 3 Low single takedown

    The low single takedown is one of the MMA takedowns rooted in BJJ. It’s a variation of the single leg takedown, but instead of grabbing the leg, you actually aim for the heel. This means you have to get real low.

    Drop on one knee with the other straight, and stabilize yourself with your non-attacking hand on the floor. You’ll end up with your torso almost parallel to the floor. Grab your opponent’s heel and plant your forehead against the side of your opponent’s knee. This will make it easier for you to collapse their position.

  • 4 Body lock takedown

    Body lock takedowns are basically very aggressive hugs. They work great against grapplers who are too agile for leg attacks. Use underhooks to open up space to lock your hands behind your opponent. Pull at their lower back as you push forward against their chest with your head to outbalance them.

  • 5 Outside foot sweep

    Sweeps are low-risk and high-reward techniques. It’s most effective from the clinch, where the opponent is pushed and pulled to offset their balance. Use your foot to sweep one of theirs to topple them over.

  • 6 Leg trip

    The leg trip is a takedown that is hard to read, easy to execute, and has a fairly high success rate. Engage in the clinch and keep close. Ideally, keep your chests tight by securing your hold in a gable grip. Snake your leg around one of theirs and pull it either backwards or to the side. Take them by surprise with swift and decisive movements. 

  • 7 Uchi mata

    The uchi mata is a judo throw that can also be useful in MMA. Grab your opponent’s shoulder in an overhook and lock it by holding onto their opposite arm in a move called the whizzer. Trip the nearest leg as you pull them forward with the whizzer, and they should find themselves on the ground soon after.

  • Final thoughts

    MMA takedowns are crucial tools for fighters to dominate during the fight. The takedown itself scores points, but aside from that, it provides a chance to get past the opponent’s defences. It lends an opportunity to control the opponent, ideally (but not necessarily) leading into submission or ground and pound.

    That’s also why wrestlers like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman, Henry Cejudo and Daniel Cormier took turns claiming glory. They appealed to most MMA judges and spectators, as they favoured fighters who dominated from the top.

    Sure, the striking game paved the way for combat sports to excel. Against a takedown specialist, though, strikers may find themselves in a real bind.

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