Defence against Take-downs in MMA

A good defence against takedowns is essential for fighters who are more vulnerable on the ground, for example grapplers and strikers.

defence against takedowns in mma

Takedown defence principle

The basic defence principle is the same for all takedowns: step aside and avoid contact by deflecting the opponent with a push. This also puts them off balance and provides the opportunity to apply a punch, strike or takedown. This is often how takedowns are set up and defended against:

  • The opponent attempts a jab to distract the fighter, who parries.
  • Following the jab, the fighter drops down and shoots in for a takedown.
  • The opponent responds by placing their forearm around the fighter’s neck and moving their legs out of the fighter’s reach.
  • The fighter steps backwards and the opponent’s momentum takes them forwards into the space created.
  • The fighter continues to pivot their body around their opponent’s to keep out of their reach.
  • While pivoting, the fighter is pushing their opponent off base, creating the perfect moment for a strike or takedown.
  • The fighter chambers their knee in preparation for a devastating knee to the head
  • The fighter pushes their opponents head down in
  • The fighter strikes with a cross to the head.

Guillotine choke to defend against a leg takedown

The guillotine choke can be used by the fighter as a defence move if their opponent is shooting in for a takedown. As the opponent comes in, it is too late to defend against them with other techniques, but because the opponent is likely to have their head down, it provides a good position for the guillotine choke to be applied.

  • The opponent shoots in for a double-leg takedown. As the opponent’s hands are low their neck is exposed, providing a good opportunity for the fighter to apply the guillotine choke.
  • The fighter places their feet outside their opponent’s and wraps their arm around the opponent’s neck.
  • The opponent drives the fighter to the ground. The fighter attempts to keep their legs away from their opponent’s body so that they can later be wrapped around them.
  • The fighter applies the guillotine choke by tightening their arms around the neck. The legs are wrapped around the opponent’s body and interlocked. By pushing the opponent away with the legs and applying the choke, the opponent is likely to be forced to tap out.

The sprawl

The sprawl can be used as a last resort when an opponent penetrates too far with a takedown. To prevent the opponent grasping the back of the fighter’s legs, they step and push back with their legs until their legs and hips are flat to the ground. The feet are also flattened to help keep the hips down and to prevent the body from involuntarily rising if pushed. This can also help trap the opponent under their weight. From this position the fighter can slide backwards, again to prevent the opponent reaching their legs.

  • The opponent shoots forwards for a double-leg takedown. The fighter reacts by lowering to a crouched stance.
  • The fighter’s elbow is bent on their leading side and catches the opponent’s shoulder in the crook.
  • The leg on the preventing the opponent from grabbing them.
  • Same side as the crooked arm is pushed backwards so all their weight is on the opponent.
  • Defence against a single-leg takedown

Balance is very important when defending against a single-leg takedown as techniques are applied while being pushed about on one leg. In this technique the opponent’s head is pushed away to the side, and then down from the fighter’s body in order to roll them to the ground.

  • The opponent goes in for a single-leg takedown.
  • The opponent holds on to the lead leg.
  • The fighter pushes their opponent’s head away and to the side with their hands.
  • The opponent’s head is pushed from the fighter’s side towards the ground while the fighter’s other arm wraps around the opponent’s leg.
  • The opponent’s head is pushed down and their leg pulled upwards, forcing them into a forward roll.
  • The opponent is followed to the ground and held in the side control position.

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