With an increasing number of fighters learning how to defend shots effectively, learning upper body throws has become more useful in the sport of mixed martial arts lately. The most recent example of this was UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey’s rematch against Miesha Tate at UFC 168.
During their historic battle, Rousey defended almost all of her challenger’s shots while hip tossing her to the ground and gaining the dominant position more than once. Among other things, her expertise in judo greatly contributed to her victory.
Rousey’s takedowns are effective because she’s able to execute them from many positions, especially the clinch. This makes her takedown game more versatile than fighters who only rely on shots against the legs to get their opponents to the ground.
This isn’t meant to demote the effectiveness that double legs and single legs have in MMA. They’re still the bread and butter of takedowns in the sport. But even if you already use shots frequently, it would certainly add an entire new dynamic to your game if you mixed throws into your grappling arsenal.
Here are three reasons why you should take the time to learn throws.
1) Fights End Up in the Clinch a Lot
In almost every MMA fight that goes the distance, there will be some point during the bout where the fighters clinch with one another. Usually some knees and uppercuts are thrown, but often times neither fighter is able to gain a significant advantage over the other. By learning judo or Greco-Roman techniques that can be used from the clinch, you could greatly improve your game in this position. Even if you don’t always get a takedown via a throw, it’ll still add another thing for your opponent to worry about against you.
2) Fighters are Learning How to Sprawl
What started with Mirko Cro Cop and Chuck Liddell has become a trend among many mixed martial artists; they’re learning how to sprawl. Whether it be a double leg, single leg, or high crotch, sprawling is the basic takedown defense against any type of shot. Today, knowing how to sprawl is standard for the modern day MMA fighter. This reduces the effectiveness that shots once had. The days of Tito Ortiz just double legging everybody to the ground over and over again are finished. In addition to mastering the sprawl, fighters like Lyoto Machida are learning to evade shots altogether by maintaing distance through strategic utilization of footwork.
Often times, fights end up in the clinch immediately following a sprawl. Once the fight reaches this point, whether you’re the fighter who just sprawled or the one who took a shot but didn’t get it so you came up to his body, it doesn’t really matter; you’re both in the clinch now. The fighter who knows how to fight from the clinch will have the advantage here. Mastering techniques such as the lateral drop throw will allow you to get the takedown from the clinch and obtain the dominant position.
3) Impede Your Opponent’s Offense
If your opponent has to worry about you clinching with him, then it will definitely slow down his striking. He will constantly have to be cautious not to let you get close enough to where you can trap him in the clinch. Worrying about you closing the distance will obstruct him from setting up his punches and kicks. The best example of this was the legendary fight between Pride heavyweights Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Cro Cop. Having a strong background in sambo and judo, Emelianenko was known for being able to efficiently take fights to the ground once he got into the clinch. At the time, Cro Cop was one of the most feared strikers on the planet, but he was unable to set up any of his strikes against the Russian due to his aggressive style. Cro Cop spent more time during the fight worrying about Emelianenko’s offense than he did launching his own.