Interview with Kurt Southern

Checkout our article “Get to the ground” with Kurt Southern

“What is your preferred strategy to get the fight to the ground?”

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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?”

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Kurt Southern: “In my opinion I think double legs is 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?”

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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?”

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Kurt Southern: “Constantly mixing levels up when you’re on your feet. And when you’re striking constantly faking takedowns, and faking striking 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”

FighterEmpire: “How important are your grappling skills to your technique?”

Kurt Southern: “Really important man. You gotta be well rounded in today’s MMA because if you’re not and your ground game is weak guys will take advantage of that and will take you to the ground. Its very important, one of the most important things.”

FighterEmpire: “Would you say an MMA fighter could succeed in the ring without any grappling skill at all and relying solely on striking ability?”

Kurt Southern: “Absolutely not, 100% no. Even back in UFC 1 that wouldn’t work. Maybe the guy would win a fight or two, but look at who won the original UFC. It was grapplers, it was wrestlers, Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock the guys who knew the ground game. Even in UFC 1 guys with pure striking and 0 grappling wouldn’t work and today definitely wouldn’t work. You need to at least know how to stop guys from taking you down. You need to at least have good takedown defense. But you’re not gonna be able to stop every single person from taking you down. So you need to know how to grapple absolutely. I think if anybody tried to step into the ring or a cage and fight MMA without any grappling they are very ignorant, it is a bad idea.”

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