Get to the ground with Kurt Southern
Having skills on the ground is really fun. When the other person can’t grapple to save their life and you are a skilled BJJ practitioner, you will finally know what it felt like to be your big brother when he would always beat your ass a child. Tossing you around effortlessly while you tried your hardest to escape. The only problem you may encounter is that no fight starts on the ground. If you can’t get it there in the first place and get knocked out before you do, you will of done all that groundwork training for nothing.
A large amount of fighters and people in our community have trouble getting the fight to the ground. When practicing, none of the most common takedowns are very difficult to complete. But when it’s a live match and you are attempting a takedown that your opponent is resisting, taking them down can prove to be very difficult. It’s even more difficult in MMA when you are trying to go for a takedown, and he is punching you in the face instead. We were curious what difficulties our members were facing, so we asked our community here and let them tell us themselves.
To help answer your questions, we spoke with UFC fighter Kurt Southern. He has a record of 14-6 with 57% of those victories ending by submission. You can’t win by submission without getting the fight to the ground in the first place. So he clearly is qualified to answer your questions today. To find out how you may send your own questions and so much more, click here. It may just be the best thing you ever do.
“What is your preferred strategy to get the fight to the ground?”
Kurt Southern: “For me I like to use my hands to set up takedowns when I am looking to take the fight to the ground. So I like to be aggressive and come forward and throw some heat at his face to bring his hands up. So that it leaves his legs vulnerable for me to change levels and attack the legs. So that would be my best strategy.”
FighterEmpire: So basically distract him with your striking and then make an opening to use your takedowns?
Kurt Southern: “Yeah that’s how I like do it a big overhand right always gets the hands up then change levels into a double leg.”
“What would you say is the most effective takedown?”
Kurt Southern: “In my opinion I think double legs are most effective but I actually prefer single legs. Because I find that single legs leaves you a little bit less vulnerable to guillotine chokes and submissions. So for my preference I like to attack single but double legs usually are the most effective.”
“How do I prevent being countered or sprawled when attempting a takedown?”
Kurt Southern: “It’s all about the setup man, the best way to get a takedown and stop them countering or sprawling you out is properly setting it up. So if you can disguise it without them noticing that you’re going for a takedown, you’re gonna have a lot less chance of being sprawled on right? But if you telegraph it and give it away like if you’re shooting from too far, or you’re not setting it up with your hands then you’ll probably get sprawled out right? So really make sure your in tight and get his hands up so they’re not ready to sprawl and interfere with your takedown.”
“What can I do to be less predictable when I’m going after a takedown?”
Kurt Southern: “Constantly mixing levels up when you’re on your feet. And when you’re striking constantly faking takedowns, and faking strikes just to keep him off guard. So he’s not sure where you’re gonna go, if when i’m standing in a certain stance i’m always striking then he’s gonna notice when I go for a takedown. So slight little level changes, dropping your hands faking for the legs then striking. And vice versa, faking to the head and then shooting takedowns. Just mixing up your attack.”
“At what point do you decide to take the fight to the ground instead of striking?”
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Kurt Southern: “In the past in my old fights when I was coming up, I came from a wrestling background. So it was definitely my fallback and kinda was my main go to as I wanted to get the fight to the ground and work my ground and pound. So that was always my main goal but as I got more comfortable with striking I prefer to strike now. So I guess the only way I’d take you down is if maybe I get rocked or hurt with a punch. And then maybe I’d look to change things up a little bit.”
FighterEmpire: “So it’s more of an in the moment decision for you?”
Kurt Southern: “Yeah it depends on who you’re fighting too right? Like if the guy you’re fighting is a real killer on the ground, you may not wanna take it to the ground. But if the guy you’re fighting is really good on his feet, and maybe his ground game is a little weaker then yeah i’ll look to take it down there if he’s more dangerous. That’s a pro of having good wrestling. Is you get to choose whether you want to fight on your feet or the ground”
So what have we learned about taking it to the ground by speaking with Kurt Southern?
- Not sure which takedown to use? The most effective takedown is the double leg. You will see it more often in UFC than any other takedown. This is because of its simplicity, speed and power. It is quick to learn, quick to complete and devastating once finished. But the double leg leaves you somewhat open to the guillotine and other submissions, so you may want to try the single leg instead.
- Not sure what strategy to use to get people down? Try Kurt Southern’s approach and mix up your attack. Make it seem like your gameplan is to strike. Distract them with some strikes to the face to get his hands up preventing him from sprawling before you change levels and go for a takedown at their legs.
- Too predictable? Watch your stance. If you’re in the same position every time when you strike, or when you’re about to go for a takedown it’s obvious what you’re about to do. Switch it up. Throw in some fake strikes and fake takedowns to keep him guessing. And finally, mix up strikes with your takedowns.
- Constantly sprawled? This ties in with being too predictable. It’s all about the setup. If you can’t disguise that you are about to go for a takedown he will be ready for it and sprawl you out every time. Don’t shoot from too far and especially not without setting up the takedown with your hands. Get in tight and use your strikes to get his hands up high before shooting low for a takedown.
- When should I take it to the ground? This depends on who you’re fighting. If the person has poor ground game but is a great striker, you should look to take him out of his element as soon as possible. If you are being rocked with strikes, you may want to look to take the fight to the ground so you may recover.
- Shooting from too far away. Get in tight, then shoot for the double/single leg. Or you will be sprawled.
- Predictable stances. Are you using a particular stance every time you strike then a different one when you want to go for a takedown? Try a more universal stance, or mix it up. Don’t telegraph what you are about to do.
- Not setting up the takedown with your hands. Simply rushing for a double leg will get you sprawled. Instead, try throwing some punches to his face to get his hands up before you shoot low for the legs.
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