What Is a Wrestling Whizzer in MMA? (All Questions Answered)

Have you heard MMA/UFC commentators mention a whizzer and are wondering what a wrestling whizzer in MMA is?

In this article, we’ll look at what a wrestling whizzer in MMA is, the history of the wrestling whizzer, the difference between a whizzer and an overhook, and whether the wrestling whizzer is effective in MMA.

What Is a Wrestling Whizzer in MMA?

The wrestling whizzer used in MMA is a defensive wrestling hold used to defend against a single-leg takedown if the sprawl has been missed. The goal of the wrestling whizzer is to free the leg the opponent has grabbed and avoid being taken down.

On the side that the opponent’s grabbing, the whizzer is threading the arm over the opponent’s arm and under their armpit back towards yourself, and using this overhook to lift them up to break their grip.

The whizzer works because it isolates the opponent’s outside arm and acts as an anchor to control their upper body, while the free hand can peel at the opponent’s grip or push their head away/down to ultimately free the leg. 

At the same time, hip in toward the opponent as this creates space between their body and the leg.

MMA fighters are very familiar with the wrestling whizzer because they learn it when training in wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu – two essential martial arts for becoming well-rounded in MMA.

MMA fighters who aren’t well trained in wrestling and using the whizzer will almost certainly be taken down when an opponent has grabbed a single-leg takedown, as the whizzer has to be executed immediately.

History of the Wrestling Whizzer (Why Is It Called a Whizzer?)

The wrestling whizzer took its name from Irish rail workers in America who would overhook the railings while urinating from the side of a moving train on the way to work. There weren’t any toilets on the train so this was a common occurrence.

The whizzer was named after these Irish rail workers because they were huge fans of folk wrestling, and the name crossed over into the newly developing freestyle and collegiate wrestling in America. By 1840, the Irish represented just under half of all immigrants in America.

Is It Called the Wrestler Whizzer or Wizard?

The technique is called the wrestling whizzer and not the wizard. This misinterpretation simply comes down to mishearing the word – which is most often being said by American commentators at MMA events.

Whizzer vs Overhook: What’s the Difference?

The difference between a whizzer and an overhook is that a whizzer is a type of overhook used to pull the opponent upwards at the armpit to break their grip of a single-leg takedown, whereas an overhook is used to push an opponent downwards at the shoulder and control them.

It’s still a whizzer if both fighters are on the ground and the single leg is still being attacked. It’s an overhook if a single leg isn’t being attacked.

When a whizzer is successfully used to break free from a single-leg takedown, it becomes an overhook which can be used to control the opponent and attempt takedowns.

Here’s a very short video showing the difference between a whizzer and an overhook.

Is the Wrestling Whizzer Effective in MMA?

The wrestling whizzer’s effective in MMA for two main reasons.

1. Effective Defense

If an opponent has grabbed a leg for a single-leg takedown, the whizzer is the best viable defense.

2. Set Up Throws & Submissions

Successfully using a whizzer to defend a single-leg takedown allows the user to turn defense into attack by controlling their opponent and using this control to initiate throws.

The main throw from a successful whizzer defense is the Osotogari, which is one of the original 40 judo throws.

The Osotogari is performed by using the whizzer to get the leg free, getting head position on the overhook side, controlling the opponent’s wrist with the free hand, pulling them in slightly to square them up, stutter-stepping, and tripping them in the opposite direction into side control.

Often times there will be space between the two before side control is established, and the opponent will try to spin inward to escape. Still maintaining the underhook, this opens the opportunity to attack D’Arce chokes.

There’s also the option of the Uchi-mata (Inner-thigh reaping throw) and the cartwheel Uchi-mata from a successful whizzer, but these are much harder to pull off in MMA.

The Bottom Line

So, ‘what is a wrestling whizzer in MMA?’

The wrestling whizzer commonly used in MMA is a hold used to defend a single-leg takedown if the sprawl has been missed and the opponent already has hold of the leg.

To use the whizzer, fighters thread their arm over the opponent’s arm and under their armpit back towards themselves and use this overhook to lift them up to break their grip. The whizzer is threaded on the same side of the leg being attacked.

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