Grappling Positions – Clinch Hold

Today, we will be taking a look at one of the more important and prominent positions in fighting (let alone mixed martial arts) a�� the clinch hold. Also known as a�?clinching hold,a�? it is a grappling position in which both opponents are standing, looking for a certain lock which will eventually lead to a takedown of sorts.

The clinch hold is also noted to be one of the main strategies to keep the opponent close enough to avoid hard strikes.

Entering the clinch, or a�?closing the gap,a�? is not an easy task, as the opponent can quickly throw some hard blows that could connect and do some heavy damage on the aggressor. However, it can be noted that achieving a low center of gravity and protecting the face with the forearms crossed over are the two best strategies to get inside for a clinch.

Once the aggressor has charged in, he will want to remain low, and use his legs to dig his dominant shoulder into the chest of the opponent. At that point, a number of holds can be applied, so long as the grab is performed correctly.

The first hold that a clinch can achieve is the bear hug. Most people understand that a bear hug is a tight grip around a person in which their arms are trapped beneath the aggressor. The arms can be wrapped around the chest or midsection from this position.

From here, one can almost always take the opponent down with either a throw, or a transition into an inverted bear hug, which shows the aggressora��s hands locked around the back of the opponent, and the aggressora��s head pushing firmly into the sternum.

Another clinch hold is the collar tie. This is one of the simpler grabs upon entering the clinch, where the aggressor wraps his arm up the back of the opponent, grabbing either the back of the neck or the trapezius.

The double-handed version is most prominent in Muay Thai fighting, and is much easier to take an opponent down, as a number of throws can be done from here. Knee strikes can also be done from the double-handed collar tie.

A variation of closing the gap for a collar-tie-into-knee-strikes would be to throw punches in bunches (left-right-left hook-uppercuts). This catches the opponent off-guard, and the collar tie can be applied from here.

Much like the bear hug, the overhook is another clinch hold that controls the opponent in the standing game. This is simply done by putting an arm over the opponenta��s arm and locking (or encircling) that arm around the opponenta��s arm. This can be done with one or both arms, and it is a fairly nice counter to an opponenta��s underhook, and a great preventative tactic to avoid a bear hug.

Finally, a pinch tie grip is the gateway to any of the above holds, in which the arms are wrapped around the opponenta��s back and locked via hand-to-wrist, finger-locked, or palm-to-palm. It is fairly easy to transition into underhooks or a double collar tie, but it can also lead to a throw or a variation to over-under position. Either way, the goal is to take the opponent out of his guard and into the defensive.

From any of these positions, the aggressor would like to end the fight, as is with most grappling techniques.

As seen with the double collar tie, strikes with the knees can be applied, but a�?dirty boxinga�? techniques have been effectively used, as well.

The guillotine chokehold is a great submission to apply from the collar tie; however, the advantage is always in favor of a taller fighter to achieve this type of lock.

Check out this video for more great tips on clinch fighting!

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Florian looks to begin win streak

The Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C. will be the home of UFC Fight Night 21, tonight, as Peruvian-American lightweight Kenny Florian (12-4) and Japanese lightweight Takanori Gomi (31-5) headline the event.

Hailing from Brookline, Mass., Florian has a blackbelt in BJJ and Genjitsu, and also specializes in Muay Thai, and is ranked by multiple MMA publications as the third best lightweight in the world. Tonighta��s fight could set the foundation for his status in mixed martial arts with another win.

a�?Ken-Floa�? split his last two fights, both occurring in 2009. In August of 2008, he faced off against B.J. Penn for the Lightweight Championship at UFC 101 in Philadelphia, Penn.

This wasna��t his first title shot, as he formerly had an opportunity in 2006 at UFC 64 in Las Vegas, Nev. against former champion Shawn Sherk.

Florian vs. Penn, Image Courtesy of MMA Weekly

Penn, who was labeled the most dominant fighter in mixed martial arts, was pushed to four rounds by Florian, but was still able to hang on and force Ken-Flo into submission with a rear naked chokehold at 3:54 in the fourth round.

So, Florian got back on his feet and prepared for his next fight against American Clay Guida at UFC 107, where Penn headlined that event, defeating Diego Sanchez to once again retain his title.

Memphis, Tenn. was the home of this event, and Florian didna��t take much time to prove the critics wrong. This time around, it was Florian who won the bout with a rear naked chokehold at 2:19 in the second round.

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Florian, who owns and fights out of his own gym (Florian Martial Arts Center), with his brother Keith, will headline tonighta��s event, which also includes Ross Pearson vs. Dennis Silver, Roy Nelson vs. Stefan Struve, and Nate Quarry vs. Jorge Rivera.

While Gomi has been criticized for his careera��s decline over the last few years, Florian has said that he is not a believer in Gomia��s lack of talent at this stage in his career, according to MMA Weekly. The big concern for Gomi will most likely be falling to submission, as he has lost three of his five bouts this way. Florian can back that up, as he has made eight of his professional opponents submit.

UFC Fight Night 21a��s doors open at 4:00 p.m. eastern time, and the first bout begins at 5:00 p.m. eastern time. It will air tonight on Spike TV at 8:00 p.m. eastern time.

Hardy loses Welterweight Championship Bout

A long career in mixed martial arts was about to pay off for welterweight Dan Hardy. After signing with the UFC in 2008, it didna��t take Hardy very long to become a contender for the UFC Welterweight Title. He would compete for this against reigning champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111 this past Saturday, March 27, 2010 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

However, Hardy (23-7) couldna��t advance to the next milestone in his career, as St-Pierre came out on top, winning the match in five rounds. The decision was unanimous in St-Pierrea��s favor, 50-43, 50-44, 50-45.

Hardy vs St-Pierre, Image Courtesy of the LA Times

It wasna��t an easy one for the English fighter, Hardy, also known as a�?The Outlaw.a�? At 6a��0a�?, 170 pounds, Hardy shows versatility and quickness, and his Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Jui-Jitsu and boxing experience all helped in keeping him in the fight against the 20-2 Canadian Welterweight Champion.

In the first round, Hardy couldna��t stay on his feet, as St-Pierre controlled this portion of the fight. It woulda��ve been over much quicker, but Hardya��s toughness and durability prevented him from submitting to a fierce armbar. As the clock winded down, Hardy was able to escape the hold, and prepared for the second round.

The trend continued, as St-Pierre kept Hardy on his back again for most of the second and third rounds. Another armbar in the fourth almost drove Hardy into submission, but he toughed it out until the bell rung for the final time in the fifth.

Prior to this past weekenda��s bout, Hardy was on a role a�� 7-0 since his last loss via disqualification at GCM: Cage Force 5 against Yoshiyuku Yoshida in 2007. In his most recent fight, Hardy defeated American Mike Swick (14-4) at UFC 105 to become the contender for the Welterweight Championship.

The fight went three rounds, and it was a close one. Hardy was able to gain control of the first round late with a few light right swings, and a knee to the midsection of Swick.

In the second round, Swick controlled the ring, as he was able to ward off most of Hardya��s strike attempts, and was able to counter with plenty of his own.

Hardy was able to gain slight control of the final round, as he nabbed Swick with some good strikes. Hardy won unanimously, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

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Hardy will now return to his hometown of Nottingham, England to continue training, with hopes of getting another shot someday. Hardy trains with Team Rough House, which is located in East Midlands, England, and features other fighters, including Paul Daley and Ross Pearson.

UFC on Versus 1: Jones still technically undefeated

Photo Courtesy of Dave Mandel of Sherdog.com

Broomfield, Colo. was the very first home of UFC on Versus, as the series capped off an incredible event of knockouts, long bouts and, of best college essays course, bone-crunching submissions.

As expected, the headliner, Vera vs. Jones was an interesting one, in which the young light heavyweight, Jon Jones took care of the experienced kickboxer, Brandon Vera within the first round. From the start, Jones took control with a leg-trip takedown, which was followed by some heavy punches. Veraa��s efforts to keep Jones away were futile, as Jones succeeded in another takedown.

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While Jones was throwing elbows in Veraa��s guard, Vera hit an illegal upkick to the jaw, which lost him a point. That point wouldna��t matter; however, as Jones delivered a vicious elbow to Vera, and ended that match via TKO with punches at 3:19 in the first round. Jones was awarded one of three Knockouts of the Night, and an extra $50,000. Jones still has never been technically beaten, as he was disqualified in his last fight for an illegal elbow shot.

The other two Knockouts of the Night were given to Junior dos Santos in his defeat over Gabriel Gonzaga at 3:53 of Round 1, and to a Preliminary Card matchup between United States fighter John Howard, who took on fellow American Daniel Roberts in welterweight action. The fight was originally scheduled to be Howard vs. Anthony Johnson. Johnson could not compete due to a training injury.

Roberts took Howard on in his UFC debut, but his inexperience proved to be his weakness, as Howard threw the knockout punch at 2:01 of the first round. This fight was Robertsa�� first recorded MMA loss, putting him at 9-1. Howard moves on to a 4-0 UFC record, and a 14-4 MMA record.

Clay Guida, Courtesy of MMAWeekly

Another Preliminary Card matchup that won honors was Clay Guida (26-11) vs. Shannon Gugerty (12-5), which won Submission of the Night. This puts Gugerty at a small slump since his submission loss to Terry Etim at UFC 105. Lightweights Gugerty and Guida lasted two rounds before Guida locked on an arm-triangle choke at 3:40 and got the tap from Gugerty.

The Fight of the Night honor was not rewarded at this event.

The final two Main Card bouts were between Italian middleweight Alessio Sakara (8-1) and American James Irvin (14-6), and France heavyweight Cheick Kongo (22-6) and American Paul Buentello (27-11).

A sloppy beginning led to a sloppy end for Irvin, as Sakara took advantage of the new middleweighta��s mistakes. After what appeared to be a shot to the eye, the fight was paused to allow Irvin to recover. After a few minutes of review, it was determined that the punch involved no poking, and Irvin could not continue. Sakara was named victorious due to TKO at 3:01 of the first round.

Kongo-Buentello was quite the different style matchup, as it went three rounds until a victor was named. In the first round, not a lot of damage was done to either fighter, although Kongo had much of the control. After what looked to be a pinky injury to Buentello, the fight is paused and then resumes, allowing Kongo to take out his frustrations with a hard takedown and furious punches. Kongo wins the first round.

Much of the same in the second round, as Buentello got destroyed in all facets of the game. Finally, Kongo gets the tap from Buentello in the third round (1:16) after a quick takedown, headlock and elbows to the knee.

Overall, the 1st Bank Center had an attendance of 6,443 and a total gate of $568,125. The next UFC event will be headlined by Georges St. Pierre and Dan Hardy at UFC 111 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. That will be this Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 10:00 p.m., eastern time on Pay-Per-View.

Dos Santos continues streak at UFC on Versus

Dos Santos vs. Gonzaga

In the midst of a five-bout winning streak that spanned all the way back to March of 2008, BJJ and boxing specialist Junior dos Santos added to his streak at the very first UFC on Versus. He now holds an 11-1 record, professionally.

The heavyweight faced off against Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga (11-5), who he was supposed to face at UFC 108 in January of 2010 in Las Vegas, Nev., but could not compete due to a staph infection.

The two finally got the opportunity to fight this past Sunday, March 21, in Broomfield, Colo., where after a few moments of feeling each other out, dos Santos was able to gain control through jabs and a vicious left hook. Dos Santos finished the match off with a ground and pound on top to knock Gonzaga unconscious. The fight was ruled in dos Santosa�� favor via TKO at 3:53 in the first round. Dos Santos won the bonus of Knockout of the Night.

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In his previous fight at UFC 108, where Netherlands competitor Gilbert Yvel (36-14) replaced Gonzaga, dos Santos, also known as a�?Ciganoa�? (or a�?Gypsya�?), put his opponent away in an even more aggressive manner, which has been a staple in the fighting style of dos Santos for his entire career, winning all but two of his bouts in the first round.

Cigano had no remorse for Yvel, as he immediately delivered some blows to the chin and body, and followed up soon after with a left hook counter punch to an attempted head kick. The fight was stopped at 2:07 in the first round after dos Santos mounted his opponent and pummeled him with hammer fists.

Hailing out of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, dos Santos holds a brown belt in BJJ. He trains with Team Blackhouse, located in both Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Los Angeles, Calif. Cigano trains among the elite in mixed martial arts, including Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera.

Dos Santos has not yet been scheduled for his next fight, but certainly looks to continue using an aggressive-knockout style, which has won him nine of his eleven bouts via knockout.

DQ Not a Setback for Jones

Jon Jones

A life of constant movement and a career of constant victories was put to a sudden halt in December for UFC fighter Jon Jones.

Jon a�?Bonesa�? Jones, raised in Endicott, N.Y., has traveled far and wide to gain a reputable fighting background, beginning with Team BombSquad in Cortland, N.Y., heading to Montreal to work with the Tristar Gym, and most recently heading to Albuquerque, N.M. to train with Greg Jackson at Jacksona��s Submission Fighting.

However, none of his travels or experiences would have predicted such a successful career at the age of 22. At 6a��4a�?, 205 pounds, the light-heavyweight has a 9-1 record, which includes a 3-1 record with UFC, where he has a four fight contract.

However, dona��t be fooled by that one loss. That loss came after a disqualification in his most recent fight in Las Vegas, Nev. against Matt Hamill for illegal downward elbows. The elbows thrown were a�?12-to-6a�? verticals, which split open Hamilla��s nose at 4:14 in the first round.

So, Jones has to take it in stride, realizing that hea��s never actually been defeated. Along with a near perfect record, Jones holds the all-time record in UFC history for the longest reach at 84.5 inches.

The Muay Thai and grappling specialist looks to increase his win column by one more as he faces off against Brandon Vera this Sunday, March 21, 2010 at UFC Live in Broomfield, Colo. How does he expect to achieve this victory? Most likely, hea��ll attempt a combination of his a�?knockout style,a�? in which five of his victories come from, as well as the tactics he used in the previous fight at UFC 100, where he used a modified guillotine to defeat Jake Oa��Brien by submission at 2:43 in the second round.

Regardless of his past endeavors, Jones will still have an uphill battle against a seasoned veteran like Vera, who also specializes in Muay Thai, but adds an aggressive edge with a background in kickboxing. UFC Live kicks off on March 21 at 9 p.m. eastern time on Versus. Jones and Vera headline the event.

When All Else Fails… Evolve!

Is it destiny to grow up in a family of a certain trade? What about a family of fighters? The historic Hart family, hailing from Canada is one of the most famous amateur and professional wrestling families in organized fighting history. However, there is a more unique storya��

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Greg Jackson took a different route than your run-of-the-mill mixed martial artist. With a family of champion wrestlers, including his father, uncle and brother, Jackson learned to develop wrestling rather quickly, while growing up in a rough neighborhood.

Whata��s more, Jackson decided, at a young age, that wrestling wasna��t enough. Mixing in some Judo with his wrestling expertise, Jackson soon developed his own form of martial arts. And by 1992, he was ready to open up shop and begin teaching others what had become known as Gaidojutsu.

History was made in 1993, when Jackson saw his first Ultimate Fighting Championship, and took a page out of the Gracie familya��s book, adding BJJ to his fighting form. Hea��s also added kickboxing to the form, learning from his mentor and five time world champion Michael Winkeljohn.

Jackson at UFC 96

What is known as The Worlda��s Premiere Fight Team, Jacksona��s Mixed Martial Arts, located in his hometown of Albuquerque was officially named an MMA school in 2000, and since its birth, the school has developed ten world champions. It is even said that Jacksona��s fighters have an 81-percent winning percentage, according to Sherdog.

As a guy that mainly taught himself, Jacksona��s coaching tendencies are among the best, as seen by his repertoire of successful fighters, which include light heavyweight Jon Jones, Nate Marquardt, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, and current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

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The best thing about Jacksona��s coaching? Passion.

a�?I like changing peoplea��s lives for the better,a�? Jackson said in an interview with his schoola��s website.

a�?I think thata��s definitely the part Ia��m addicted to. When I see somebody that you know is just a normal student and their life becomes better, they become a stronger person, they become a better person, that something that really exemplifies why Ia��m in this business.a�?

Jackson works alongside Winkeljohn, who coaches kickboxing at the academy, as well as strength and conditioning coach Chris Luttrell, and Chad Lemoine a�� each providing expertise in the areas that make Gaidojutsu the powerful form that it has become.

Jackson is currently filming a documentary on the genesis and development of Jacksona��s MMA, and will see some of his fighters face off at UFC Live on March 21, 2010, including Jon Jones, Paul Buentello, Eliot Marshall, Clay Guida, and Brendan Shaub.

I like changing peoplea��s lives for the better. I think thata��s definitely the part Ia��m addicted to. When I see somebody that you know is just a normal student and their life becomes better, they become a stronger person, they become a better person, that something that really exemplifies why Ia��m in this business.

Grappling Positions – Side Control

After taking a look at North/South Position just a few days ago, it is only appropriate that we analyze its close cousin, Side Control.

Sometimes called a�?Side Mounta�? or a�?Cross Mount,a�? side control looks very similar to north/south, in that the aggressor is on top of the defender. The exception comes in the position of the aggressora��s body, which is now perpendicular to the defendera��s body on the ground. The legs are free and the aggressor can exhibit extreme control over his opponent.

In this position, it is most appropriate for the aggressor to deliver blows with his knees and elbows. He/she can also perform various armlocks.

A little more susceptible to an escape, the side control position can be swept by the defender.

To do this, the defender slips his left arm underneath the body of his opponent, and pushes his left knee up into the opposing fightera��s side. Taking that same left hand, the defender can then grab his right foot and hook it under the aggressora��s leg. He will then usually sweep the aggressora��s leg out and twist into a butterfly position. From here, both fighters must alter their game to gain the upper hand.

Meanwhile, the aggressor also has a number of solid attacks from side control, despite the possibility of escape. One of the more powerful attacks is the knee bar. If the defender attempts a sweep, the aggressor can gain the upper hand by hooking the non-sweeping leg, and then propping himself up and grabbing the leg in a locked position. After performing this, the aggressor can then wrap his arms and legs around the sweeping leg and fall backwards, applying pressure on the other leg and hoping for submission.

Another form of side control is a�?Twister Side Control,a�? which is said to be a little easier in the grappling world. In this position, the aggressor is trying to avoid the defendera��s attempt of shrimping away from traditional side control. It is done by leaning to face the opponent’s legs, and placing the hand furthest from the legs head behind the opponent’s back, then leaning them towards the aggressor.

From here, you can apply the Twister (a guillotine move that applies extreme pressure on the neck and spine), and/or the Baby Arm.

Check out the video below for a complete tutorial on side control.

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Grappling Positions: North/South Position

A common ground maneuver, the north/south position can prove deadly for both the aggressor and the defender in many forms of organized combat.

In its most basic state, the north/south position shows two fighters on the ground, one on his back and the other on top of the fighter, facing the opposite direction, with his head over the combatanta��s chest. From this position, the aggressor, or the fighter on top, can strike his opponent, or apply various grapples that will force the opponent into submission.

In BJJ, the position is easily comparable to the side mount. Sometimes, the aggressor will even hold his opponenta��s belt in order to gain an even better advantage, making it hard for the defender to turn and wiggle out. Most effectively, the aggressor will try to keep his opponenta��s hips pinned to the ground.

Two common pinning holds are derived from kami shiho gatame, which pins the opponents arms on his/her side, and grabbing the belt. To get an opponent into this position, a straight over throw can be utilized.

One of the best escapes from north/south is called the pendulum. This can be applied when the defender is facing the ground, as opposed to on his back, which is a variant of the north/south attack. The defender will pin the opponenta��s arm to his body and left his left knee, kicking his right foot. This allows for a bit of momentum to place the opponent face down on the mat, allowing the defender to push his head into the opponenta��s back. From here, the defender becomes the aggressor and twists the arm behind his back into a possible submission hold.

Overall, the aggressor in the basic north/south position is trying to beat his opponent into a knockout or submission. He can move into other different ground games, such as side control, or remain on top using knee strikes to force a knockout of some sorts. Check out the video below to see some north/south techniques.

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Submissions – Guillotine Chokehold

Stemming from various forms of martial arts and Brazilian Jujitsu, the guillotine chokehold is one of the most common types of submission in the MMA world, today.

One of the most frequent mistakes a fighter can make that will make them susceptible to the hold is when putting his/her head on the outside of the opponenta��s body while going for a takedown. This will fare extremely dangerous, and sometimes calls for a quick ending to what coulda��ve been an even matchup for many fighters.

There are two types of ways that can cause the tap from the guillotine: the blood choke and the air choke.

In a blood choke situation, the blood flow to the brain is cut off, causing much pain in the victim, which will most likely cause them to tap early, or, if a fighter is stubborn, it could cause him to pass out due to a lack of blood flow. This can happen in a matter of seconds. The blood choke is performed by placing pressure on the arteries in the opponenta��s neck.

An air choke constricts the air flow from the lungs by compressing the windpipe. It is the harder of the two to apply, and it also is five times less effective than a blood choke, where unconsciousness comes a lot quicker. The pain is much more intense in an air choke than a blood choke. The air choke is performed by putting pressure on the windpipe with the forearm.

The guillotine can also be performed in another two ways a�� standing or on the ground.

From the ground, the opponents head should be lower than yours when you place your armpit around the back of his neck, locking your wrist and hand in a tight grip, around his throat. Once secured, the pressure should be applied up into the neck. Wrapping the legs around his waist will drive his hips lower and applying more pressure around the throat. Submission is inevitable at that point.

The standing form puts a smaller fighter at an advantage to a larger one. As the attacker lunges at you, spread your legs into a wide base stands and grab the neck, as in the ground version of the chokehold, holding the wrist. Moving forward and then arching your back will allow the forearm to slice the throat and apply the necessary pressure. Too much of an arch can put you in a defensive position and make you susceptible to a takedown.

From the standing position, you can certainly bring the opponent down to the ground and use the ground position. The best line of defense is to be aware of your head placement. Never be lower than your opponent if you are not strong enough to counter an opponenta��s chokes.

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