The subtle art of grappling has been a mainstay in all kinds of MMA fighting, not least the UFC brand, and there is a benefit to watching a good wrestler do his thing in the octagon.
And wrestlers have a long recent history of dominating the sport thanks to mastering their one particular discipline to overpower their opponents.
In previous years the likes of Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes showed that their experience in training in the one discipline from a young age could win out over their opponents.
A lot of other fighters would only have learnt the wrestling aspect of MMA in older years, having trained in one or two combat disciplines such as kick-boxing, jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai prior to that.
However, with the fast-paced growth of the sport in the past decade attracting fighters from all kinds of training backgrounds there is now a far more varied output to MMA. This has leveled the playing field across the various inter-disciplines and made for real entertaining fights to watch and bet on.
Due to the now more even contests, thanks to fighters learning many of the 15 disciplines involved, you can sometimes find it tough to bet on MMA as the fights can be very close to call.
But you will be able to find the best UFC fight odds to help you decide on a fight winner, or even an overall winner, with the likelihood that they will have come from a strong wrestling background. Of the 83 champions crowned by the UFC to date, well over half came from a background in grappling.
And most of that half will have taken up wrestling as their dominant martial art before moving into MMA – a higher proportion than any other discipline to find success in the sport. Even the second-best provider of UFC champions is the other main grappling discipline – Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
When you consider that there have been only five UFC title winners with a background in boxing, despite this being the biggest most popular combat sport in the world it shows just how crucial wrestling is.
Both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling are excellent wrestling styles for UFC, especially as freestyle takedowns transition so well, whilst the clinching element from the Greco-Roman style is also hugely beneficial.
In the crazy, chaotic world of MMA the ability to grapple and grapple well cannot go unnoticed – you simply cannot compete in battle if you do not possess wrestling skills, especially defensive ones. And it works the other way too, with UFC fighters making moves into pro wrestling to some success.
Let us now take a look at just some of those specific skills and techniques that make wrestling such a successful method of winning in UFC…
This is the first takedown you’ll learn and is the simplest and most effective. It is the standard bearer of every UFC 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 the aforementioned All-American Josh Koscheck.
If done properly this technique uses the opponent’s momentum against them, and it can be very hard to defend against.
To execute the move you would lower yourself by bending your knees before using your back leg to propel yourself forward. Grab your opponent’s legs around the thighs and squeeze them together. Keep your head tight against your opponent’s body, pull your back leg toward your opponent’s outside leg, and drive your opponent to the ground.
You can also operate the single-leg version if your opponent manages to get one leg away from the above move. To execute a single leg takedown, you should isolate one of your opponent’s legs and pull them towards the leg you are holding.
Body lock takedowns are very common inside the cage as clinching is a big part of UFC. It’s actually easier to clinch with someone than to go for a takedown and is a great defensive technique.
The easiest way to complete a takedown from the body lock is by pulling in your opponent’s lower back while pushing forward with your head on their chest. You can also complete the takedown by lifting your opponent up in the air and throwing them to the ground.
Famously utilized by Dan Henderson, a properly performed 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 easiest ways to get a fight to the ground is by using the snap down which 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 in position on his head already to pull him down into the snap.
As well as the above techniques, the first thing any aspiring wrestler will learn is chokes and joint-locks which transfer well into the cage. It is no wonder why the stats show fighters with a strong grappling game are successful in UFC, and the above techniques are a huge part of that.