Leg Takedowns in MMA

For the single or double-leg takedown to be effective, it is important to be within arm’s length of the opponent and with a correct set-up. The success rate also increases when the move is combined with strikes. When going in for the move, the hands remain up until the head has made contact with the opponent’s body. With the hands high, the fighter is less vulnerable to strikes, kicks and knees. This is particularly important when the fighter’s body is moving forwards as this increases the impact of blows received.

single leg takedown


A single-leg takedown is normally executed when the opponent has one leg forward and the other back. In this situation a double-leg takedown would be inappropriate: the fighter would become vulnerable when travelling the further distance required to capture both legs, during which time the opponent would react and counter. Application as follows:

  • The opponent in the normal stance, one leg in front and one behind.
  • When the opponent’s legs ‘mirror’ those of the fighter, the ideal opportunity for a single-leg take down is created.
  • The fighter drops their body and steps to the outside of the opponent’s lead foot.
  • The fighter grabs the opponent’s front leg, placing their head in the centre of the opponent’s chest and pushing off their back leg.
  • The fighter pulls the opponent’s leg to their chest and brings their elbows together. The fighter’s legs are now bent.
  • The fighter’s head continues to push into the opponent’s chest as they rotate their body, and the opponent falls backwards over the fighter’s leg.
  • The fighter continues to push their head into the opponent’s body and rotates them to the floor.
  • When both competitors are on the floor, the fighter tries to get on to their knees.
  • Once the fighter is on their knees, they secure the situation by using the top position.


A double-leg takedown is normally executed when both competitors have the same stance and therefore the same lead leg. When going in for the shoot, it is important to keep the forward momentum while securing both legs with the arms. If possible, the opponent should be pushed sideways to keep away from counter-strikes, known as guards. Once on the ground, the opponent should be secured by using the side control position. How it’s done:

  • Both competitors lead with the same leg in the normal fighting stance.
  • The fighter moves into a crouched stance.
  • Pushing off with their back leg, the fighter explodes forwards while keeping their hands up to protect against strikes.
  • The front leg steps forwards and is placed between arms are wrapped around the back of the opponent’s knees.
  • The fighter’s head is placed on the side of the opponent’s body, on the same side as their leading leg.
  • To keep away from potential strikes from the opponent’s guard, the fighter stays to the side.
  • The fighter establishes the side control position.

Body lock takedown

A body lock takedown follows a successful double under hook where a tight grip around the opponent’s body has been achieved: This is a very effective takedown that can seriously injure the opponent when they land. Pointers:

  • The fighter achieves the double Under hook with a firm grip of their wrist.
  • The fighter steps behind the establish a double under hook.
  • The opponent is rotated and tripped backwards by the fighter, who maintains a strong grip.
  • Once the opponent is on their back, the fighter secures the side control position.

Takedown from the Muay Thai clinch

  • If the fighter has been unable to bring their opponent’s head down to apply strikes, they can use their resistance against them by releasing their grip and shooting in for a takedown.
  • The fighter holds their opponent in a Muay Thai clinch.
  • The opponent successfully prevents their head from being pulled forwards, so the fighter releases their hold.
  • Released from the hold, the opponent’s body moves backwards and the fighter shoots in for a double-leg takedown.

Body lock takedown from the back

An opponent held from the back in a body lock becomes very vulnerable to a takedown. This is a simple manoeuvre for the fighter, involving wrapping their leg around their opponent’s and applying their body weight until they collapse to the ground. Once on the ground, the fighter can apply a rear naked choke (as GSP demonstrates at the end of the fight in the above video).

  • The fighter applies a back body lock with one arm of the opponent secured
  • On the same side as the arm, the fighter wraps their leg around their opponent’s.
  • Keeping in close contact with the opponent, the fighter applies their weight while pushing forwards, thereby forcing the opponent to the ground.
  • Once on the ground, the fighter rolls on to their back, taking their opponent with them and securing their legs by hooking them with their own.
  • The fighter applies a rear naked choke hold.

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