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Defending Against Takedowns With Cheick Kongo

Defending Against Takedowns With Cheick Kongo

Wrestling is generally considered the most important skill to have in MMA. This not only includes offensive wrestling but also defensive. If you’re able to choose where the fight goes, then you are able to do your best work, whether that be on the ground or on the feet. 

This means that if you're a striker, you still need to train your wrestling, especially your defensive wrestling. If you're able to stop any of your opponent’s potential takedowns then you can keep the fight on the feet, where, if you're a striker, you can do your best work. The thing is in MMA you can also counter wrestling with strikes, which a solid striker can use to their advantage. 

In this video, Cheick Kongo shows how a striker can defend against takedowns that his opponent might go for. Cheick Kongo is a legendary Mixed Martial Artist and Kickboxer who has been competing professionally since 2001, at the age of 45, is still an active competitor in Bellator MMA. 


The video starts off with Kongo covering how to defend against takedowns when your back is on the cage or ropes. The first thing that you are going to want to do is try to get a solid underhook to peel your opponent off of you. If you can’t get a strong underhook, there’s no point in going for one. Instead of the underhook you can also go for an overhook, also known as a whizzer, for control on your opponent. As you get your hook, you need to twist your hips and torso to one side to make the takedown and position difficult on your opponent. 

If you have space, you can choose to go for knees from this position, if you are making the grip and position hard for your opponent to control. This will not only score you some points and deal some damage, but also help loosen your opponent’s grip, making your escape easier. If you deal enough damage with these knees you might even have them bail on the takedown all together. 

You can also knee to their arm that has wrist control to help deal damage and more directly break the grip. This also has a chance of heavily damaging or even breaking your opponent’s arm, which is a great way to not only escape a bad position, but also end the fight and give yourself a solid win. 

If you have the space you can choose to knee with either of your legs but there are certain options that will suit your different legs. If you are kneeing to your opponent’s body, then what is your rear leg is a better option. This is because you can more easily hit the side of your opponent’s body in this position, which is less protected with muscle. If you want to hit the arm of your opponent that currently has wrist control, your lead leg is better suited as it is close to the arm. 

Kongo notes that you should be targeting the elbow area, as that is an area with more nerves. This makes it more likely to send pain signals to the brain and increases the damage and likelihood of your escape. 

The MMA Muay Thai Manual by Cheick Kongo
If you like this video and want to learn more from Cheick Kongo, then check out our complete video series featuring him, “The MMA Muay Thai Manual By Cheick Kongo” available exclusively on Dynamic Striking!