The 5 Most Crucial Techniques To Winning in UFC/MMA

The dynamic world of the UFC and MMA demands a diverse skill set from its fighters. Among these, certain techniques stand out for their effectiveness and versatility. 

In this article, we delve into the 5 most crucial techniques for winning fights in the UFC or MMA.

The 5 Most Crucial Techniques To Winning in UFC/MMA

The 5 most crucial techniques to winning fights in the UFC or MMA are the roundhouse kick, jab, sprawl, double-leg takedown, and guillotine choke.

Let’s take a closer look at each technique, exploring what makes them so crucial.

1. Roundhouse Kick

The roundhouse kick is a staple in many striking arts like Muay Thai and kickboxing and is a crucial technique in UFC and MMA for several reasons. 

1. Leg Kicks: More Than Just Pain

Leg kicks aren’t just painful; they can result in TKOs. Targeting the common peroneal nerve, located near the knee, can cause an opponent’s leg to give out, as famously seen in the fight between Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera. 

This nerve strike can lead to a TKO, as the affected fighter might no longer be able to stand or move effectively. Beyond causing damage, leg kicks are instrumental in establishing range and setting up combinations. 

They can also be used to end a boxing combination, adding an extra layer of damage and keeping the opponent at bay and guessing.

2. Body Kicks: Targeting Vital Areas

When executed to the body, especially to the liver area, roundhouse kicks can be fight-ending. 

Striking the liver, located on the right side of an opponent’s body, can trigger a shutdown response due to the impact on the vagus nerve. This causes immense pain and results in a KO. 

Additionally, body kicks serve to drain an opponent’s cardiovascular endurance. By impacting the core, these kicks can reduce the effectiveness of an opponent’s takedowns and overall strength, as a compromised core affects the ability to generate power and maintain endurance.

3. Head Kicks: The Knockout Potential

The knockout power of a well-placed roundhouse head kick can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, as seen in the stunning victory of Leon Edwards over Kamaru Usman, in a fight he was being dominated.

Even if a knockout isn’t achieved, the impact of a head kick can drastically shift the momentum of a fight, disorienting the opponent and creating opportunities for a finish or a comeback.

4. Additional Strategic Advantages

The roundhouse kick also plays a key role in controlling the tempo of a fight. It can be used defensively to keep an aggressive opponent at a distance or offensively to break through their guard. 

The threat of a roundhouse kick can make opponents hesitant, opening them up to other attacks. 

Moreover, the ability to deliver this kick with both legs adds an element of unpredictability, making it harder for opponents to anticipate and defend against.

Limitations of Lacking Effective Roundhouse Kicks

A fighter’s absence of effective roundhouse kicks in UFC/MMA significantly reduces their chance of winning. 

Without this technique, their knockout capability diminishes, allowing opponents to defend more easily against other attacks. 

Opponents face less risk in closing distance, knowing the threat of a powerful kick is minimal. 

This lack of a versatile striking option makes a fighter more predictable and less daunting, reducing their ability to control the fight’s pace and range. 

2. Jab

The jab is a fundamental yet highly effective technique in UFC and MMA, serving as a cornerstone for both offense and defense. Most often in the UFC today, the fighter with an effective or dominant jab comes out on top.

1. Establishing Distance and Control

The jab is essential for maintaining and controlling distance in a fight. It allows fighters to keep opponents at bay, preventing them from closing in for more powerful strikes or takedowns.

A well-timed jab can disrupt an opponent’s rhythm and strategy, making it harder for them to execute their game plan.

2. Setting Up Combinations

Beyond its defensive utility, the jab is a critical tool for setting up offensive combinations. It can serve as the starting point for a series of strikes, creating openings in an opponent’s defense. 

A sharp jab can stun or momentarily distract an opponent, leading to more damaging strikes like crosses, hooks, or uppercuts.

3. Speed and Directness

The jab is renowned for its speed and directness, making it a crucial element in beating an opponent to the punch. 

Its straight-line attack allows fighters to land strikes quickly, often before their opponent can respond with slower techniques like kicks, knees, hooks, or overhands.

This speed also makes the jab a low-risk option. Unlike some techniques that may leave a fighter exposed, the jab can be thrown with minimal vulnerability, providing a balance between offense and defense.

4. Scoring and Accumulating Damage

In terms of scoring, the jab is invaluable. Consistent jabs accumulate points throughout a fight.

And while they may not always be fight-ending, they can cause significant cumulative damage. This gradual wearing down of an opponent can be crucial in later rounds, especially in closely contested matches.

5. Versatility

The versatility of the jab makes it a must-have in any fighter’s arsenal. It can be used in various fighting stances and styles, adapting to the fighter’s overall strategy. 

Whether as a tool for a counter-striker, a pressure fighter, or a defensive tactician, the jab fits seamlessly into different approaches.

The jab can also be thrown from different heights and angles. Some fighters use a lower hand position, like Bobby Green, making the jab’s trajectory hard to read and increasing its efficiency.

Limitations of Lacking an Effective Jab

Without a proficient jab, a UFC/MMA fighter faces significant strategic disadvantages. Firstly, managing distance becomes a challenge, leaving them vulnerable to close-combat specialists or opponents with superior reach. 

Secondly, setting up effective attacks is more difficult, as the jab is crucial for creating openings for powerful combinations, making their offensive strategy more predictable. 

Additionally, a good jab acts as a defensive shield, keeping opponents at a safe distance. Without it, a fighter is more exposed to incoming strikes and pressure. 

In terms of scoring, the jab is a consistent way to accumulate points, especially in tight matches where every point counts. 

Thus, lacking a strong jab limits a fighter’s tactical options in both offense and defense, making it harder to control the fight’s pace and style.

3. Sprawl

The sprawl is an essential defensive technique in UFC and MMA, used to counter takedown attempts.

Its effectiveness in maintaining a standing position and thwarting an opponent’s attempt to take the fight to the ground makes it a key skill in a fighter’s repertoire.

1. Effective Against Takedowns

A well-executed sprawl is crucial against opponents who specialize in wrestling or those who prefer fighting on the ground. 

When an opponent attempts a takedown, a quick sprawl can halt their momentum, keeping the fight standing.

This involves thrusting the hips forward and using body weight to flatten out the opponent’s attempt, thereby neutralizing their offensive move.

2. Maintaining Striking Dominance

For fighters who excel in striking, the sprawl is vital to keep the fight in their domain. By preventing takedowns, they can maintain a standing position where they can utilize their striking skills effectively.

And while the sprawl is absolutely crucial for strikers with worse grappling skills than their opponent, it remains crucial for all MMA fighters as the overwhelming majority want to avoid the bottom position on the ground.

3. Transitioning to Offensive Positions

Beyond defense, a successful sprawl can also transition into offensive opportunities. 

Once the takedown is defended, fighters can capitalize on their opponent’s compromised position to gain control, often leading to ground-and-pound scenarios or submissions like the d’arce, anaconda, or guillotine.

Limitations of Lacking an Effective Sprawl

Not mastering the sprawl can be a significant disadvantage, especially against skilled wrestlers or grapplers. Without it, a fighter becomes more susceptible to being taken down and controlled on the ground, limiting their ability to utilize their striking skills. 

This can lead to a defensive battle where they’re constantly fending off takedown attempts, draining their energy and putting them at a strategic disadvantage. 

Therefore, an effective sprawl is not just a defensive mechanism but a crucial element for maintaining tactical versatility in a fight.

4. Double-Leg Takedown

The double-leg takedown is a fundamental and highly effective technique in UFC and MMA, especially for fighters who excel in grappling and ground control. 

This move involves targeting both of an opponent’s legs, using leverage and force to take them down to the mat.

As can be seen in the table below, the double-leg takedown is the most successful in MMA. It’s twice as successful as the takedown in 2nd place, the single-leg takedown.

MMA Takedowns by 2020 – image by Reddit user: mmafightdb

1. Dominating the Ground Game

The double-leg takedown is key for fighters looking to dominate on the ground. 

By successfully executing this move, a fighter can shift the battle from standing to the ground, playing to their strengths in grappling and ground-and-pound strategies.

2. Strategic Shift and Recovery

In situations where a fighter is losing in the stand-up exchange, the double-leg takedown can be a strategic game-changer. 

It allows them to potentially win a round through control time or provides a crucial respite from the opponent’s strikes.

While wrestling can be physically demanding, for some fighters, it’s a more manageable and less damaging option than enduring a barrage of strikes on their feet.

Constantly shooting double-leg takedowns can also be an effective way to tire the more skilled striker, who may not have the gas tank to constantly defend them.

3. Setting Up Submissions and Control

Post-takedown, the fighter can transition to dominant positions like side control or full mount, leading to submission attempts like the von flue or arm triangle choke, or effective ground strikes.

This control is key in exhausting the opponent and working towards a submission or a decision victory.

4. Versatility and Adaptability

The double-leg takedown is versatile and can be adapted to different situations in a fight. 

Whether it’s used as a surprise move to catch a striking-focused opponent off guard or as a consistent strategy against other grapplers, it remains an effective tool in a fighter’s arsenal.

Limitations of Lacking a Double-Leg Takedown

A fighter without a strong double-leg takedown in their skill set may struggle against opponents who are superior in striking. 

Without the ability to effectively take the fight to the ground, they may be forced to engage in stand-up battles where they’re at a disadvantage. 

Additionally, lacking this technique can make a fighter predictable and less able to control where the fight takes place, potentially limiting their overall effectiveness in the octagon.

5. Guillotine Choke

The guillotine choke is a highly effective submission technique in UFC and MMA, known for its versatility and potential to quickly end a fight. 

This move targets the opponent’s neck, applying pressure to the throat and restricting blood flow.

1. Versatile Submission Tool

The guillotine choke can be applied from various positions, including standing, seated, or on the ground, making it a threat in numerous fight scenarios. 

Its versatility allows fighters to capitalize on a range of opportunities, whether countering a takedown attempt or seizing a momentary vulnerability in the opponent’s defense.

2. Effective Takedown Defense

One of the key strengths of the guillotine choke is its effectiveness as a counter to takedown attempts. 

When an opponent shoots in, especially slowly and with poor head positioning, they expose themselves to the choke.

This not only defends against the takedown but can also turn a defensive situation into an immediate submission victory or advantageous position, as the wrestler has to focus on defending the choke and giving up the position.

3. Fight-Ending Potential

The guillotine choke is known for its ability to quickly finish fights. It applies significant pressure to the neck, leading to rapid submissions due to the intense discomfort and threat of unconsciousness.

This makes it a favored technique among fighters looking for a decisive finish. It also makes it an excellent technique for strikers against wrestlers.

Limitations of Lacking a Guillotine Choke

A fighter without a strong guillotine choke in their arsenal may miss crucial opportunities to capitalize on an opponent’s mistakes, especially during takedown attempts. 

This limitation can lead to a reduced threat level in grappling exchanges, allowing opponents to shoot for takedowns with less risk. 

Additionally, lacking proficiency in this submission can limit a fighter’s options in close-range combat, making them less versatile and adaptable in their ground game.

The Bottom Line

In the multifaceted world of the UFC and MMA, mastering a variety of techniques and becoming well-rounded is key to a fighter’s success. 

The roundhouse kick, jab, sprawl, double-leg takedown, and guillotine choke stand out as the most crucial techniques, each offering unique strategic advantages. 

The roundhouse kick provides powerful striking options at various levels, the jab establishes control, offers speed, and sets up combinations, the sprawl is essential for takedown defense, the double-leg takedown allows for ground control and strategic shifts, and the guillotine choke offers a versatile and potent submission threat.

A fighter’s proficiency in these techniques can significantly enhance their ability to adapt to different opponents and situations, making them indispensable tools for victory in the dynamic and challenging arena of MMA.

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