On the one hand, every fighter in MMA is becoming more and more well rounded. On the other, specialization has never been more prevalent. Let’s go through some of the best grapplers and their grappling specialties who’ll be on Saturday’s UFC on FOX 9 card.
Demetrious Johnson – Double Leg Takedown
The UFC’s flyweight champion has been criticized as boring by some, but his applications of the double leg are a thing of brilliance. Demetrious Johnson, like Georges St. Pierre, is fantastic at timing the double off of his own strikes, and his opponents’ strikes. However, he’s also come up with a unique application – the Thai clinch. Watch his fight with John Dodson. Demetrious pins Dodson up against the fence, and Dodson moves to a double collar tie. As soon as he does, Demetrious drops down to counter with the double leg. Demetrious Johnson is the only fighter in MMA history who has been able to counter the Thai clinch so effortlessly.
Urijah Faber – Guillotine Choke
For those who don’t know a ton about MMA or grappling, the guillotine almost seems like a cop out victory. You just have to wrap your arm around the guy’s neck, and that’s it? How anti-climactic. The reality is, the guillotine is a dynamic technique that influences many positions. While Cody Mckenzie has an incredible guillotine, Faber has mastered more applications. For one, take his guillotine against Dominick Cruz in their first fight. Cruz took Faber down with a perfectly executed knee tap into side control, and Faber countered perfectly with the guillotine – even though he didn’t have guard.
And with Faber, the guillotine is always there, even when it’s not. Take his most recent fight against Yuri Alcantara. Someone might watch the fight and see that Alcantara got laid on for three rounds and couldn’t get up. The truth is, Alcantara had many opportunities to get to his knees, it’s just that Faber was threatening the guillotine the whole time. Every time Faber showed it, Alcantara went flat on his back to defend, and Faber kept control. He had no guillotine attempts in the entire fight, but it was in fact his guillotine that kept him on top.
Joe Lauzon – Kani Basami
As much as it pains me to say, Joe Lauzon is in fact not a truly elite grappler. His biggest asset is also his biggest liability, and that’s his willingness to take risks. He dives on subs with reckless abandon, and sometimes it pays off, like against Kurt Warburton, and sometimes it doesn’t, like against Sam Stout.
However, if you can point to one move that Lauzon does better than any other fighter in MMA, it’s his kani basami, or flying scissors. Many remember him doing it to Jim Miller, but he also did the same technique against Kenny Florian and Kyle Bradley. And while Lauzon was unable to finish the heel hook, against both Bradley and Florian he used the technique as a takedown to end up in top position.
Zack Makovsky – Single Leg Takedown
Makovsky has many grappling liabilities. He is not a truly great scrambler, his passing game is relatively weak, and he is not particularly explosive. However, his ability to finish the single leg is remarkable.
The single leg, like all “moves” in grappling, in fact, is not a move at all. It’s a position comprised of many moves. There are many entries into the single leg, and there are also many finishes and counters, all depending on the type of single leg one has and what your opponent gives you. Watch Makovsky fight Ed West for the Bellator title, and watch him finishes the single leg via multiple methods: running the pipe, forcing the leg to the inside and sweeping the planted foot, and taking the back.