MMA Technique of the Week
The Double-Leg Takedown
The Double-Leg takedown is a Wrestling technique that belongs to a category of techniques called takedowns, designed to control the flow and positioning of a match by dictating in what range the fight takes place.
The key to noticing that a Double-Leg takedown is coming is when a fighter “changes levels”, or dips down toward the legs of his opponent.
When both fighters are unengaged and striking, changing levels is most often done after the fighter initiating the takedown throws a combination of strikes to distract his or her opponent, or when his or her opponent commit to a combination of strikes and is thus less able to anticipate the takedown attempt or resist it.
A great example of this can be seen in a very slick takedown by current Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson against Norifumi Yamamoto (UFC on FOX 6):
The next step is to grasp both of his or her opponent’s legs (hence “double leg”) and pull them to one side while driving his chest into the opponent’s hips, slamming him into the mat.
When the fight is in the clinch position (any standing position in which both fighters are grabbing each other), the Double-Leg takedown is used to try to pull an opponent to the ground. The takedown from the clinch is generally safer for the fighter initiating the takedown as it’s very difficult to strike him as he changes levels.
Quite often the fighter initiating the takedown will get stalled out or stalemated in that position, which is apparent when one fighter is bent low, grasping his opponent’s legs and there is little apparent movement.
A great example of this can be seen in the fight between Jason Young and Dustin Poirier, in which he breaks the stalemate by adding a trip with his outside leg (UFC 138):
Earning Points: A successful takedown earns points in the eyes of the judges and can easily win a round for a fighter if there isn’t any other significant action in a round.
This leads some fighters to adopt what’s derisively known as a “lay and pray” strategy, in which a dominant wrestler secures a takedown then stalemates the action by laying on top of his opponent, attempting to run out the time left in the round.
Initiate a grappling exchange: Taking the fight to the ground can take the match from striking to grappling, which is certainly to the advantage of a superior grappler.
Set up a striking exchange: Threatening a takedown can open up an opponent to be more susceptible to strikes, as he now has to worry about both striking and a fighter ducking down to attack his legs.
This is an excellent way to create openings on a talented striker that wouldn’t otherwise be apparent. A great example of this can be seen in the match between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes (UFC 179):