Once considered barbaric and primitive, MMA has grown tremendously over the years and today stands for the fastest-rising mainstream sport.
From the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dominance of Royce Gracie to the powerful wrestling throws of Tito Ortiz and almost mystical Muay Thai of Anderson Silva, MMA audience has seen many styles dominating over the others throughout the history.
However, the things that remained the same are the constant evolution of the sport and the never ending improvement of techniques.
In case you are just starting out or want to add new techniques to your game, we’ve decided to make it easy by delivering you the “10 Most Effective MMA Techniques that are Easy to Learn”
If after reading this article you choose to shut down your laptop, go straight to the gym and focus on practicing these moves, we assure you that the significant improvements will come shortly after!
Taking into account that mixed martial arts is traditionally built around four different combat sports (Boxing, Kickboxing/Muay Thai, Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu), we worked our best to cover all the fundamentals and presenting you the most effective but easily to master techniques below.
10. The Liver Shot
Receiving a perfectly placed liver shot can often be described as the most painful fighting experience. The liver itself is responsible for the blood circulation so the damage can possibly go beyond the pain.
Originally the boxer’s technique, the liver shot usually lands after the faints or other traps which will leave the right side of the body open. In MMA, the spinning back kick to the body often finds a home for most of the fighters as well as regular body kicks.
9. Triangle Choke (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)
Originally developed by Tsunetane Oda and Kanemitsu Hyoe, triangle choke traditionally comes from Judo and has been part of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA from the beginning.
Today, it represents one of the most effective submissions you can pull from the bottom (open guard) and a favorite move of many fighters. The trick is to encircle the opponent’s neck in a way that will stop the blood flow to the brain.
What makes the triangle choke unique and dangerous is the ability to quickly switch for the armbar or vice versa, constantly keeping the opponent guessing.
8. Low Kicks (Kickboxing)
The matchup between the sharp kickboxer and a grappling-based fighter with bad standup defense can often see MMA fans whispering “Oh man!, just stop it.” Just look at the fight between Khalil Rountree Jr. and Erik Anders. The effectiveness of low kicks is often underrated.
Primarily, landing them precisely can affect the movement and keep the opponents at distance.
Naturally, boxing based fighters have a tendency to stay heavy on the lead leg and suffer much punishment early in the fight.
This forces them to switch their stances, and their game is completely shut at this point. However, timing is the key! An experienced wrestler can quickly figure out the timing and by catching the next kick advance to the mat.
7. Standing Elbows (Muay Thai)
Although elbows are creating the most damage from the top position, the amount of power generated on the feet is considerably higher. On top of that, having standing elbows in your game can improve the unpredictability and the more striking arsenal to offer can’t harm you either.
Landing with the edge and under the angle can instantly open the cut and profuse bleeding. Just look at the faces of Tony Ferguson’s most recent victims.
Esteeming that most fighters regularly cover themselves against the cage, this creates the open space for an elbow to come over the top with much more power than a hook or an uppercut.
6. Thai Clinch (Muay Thai)
Wrapping your hands around the opponent’s neck and pulling a Thai Clinch is probably the best defensive move to neutralize a person charging at you. The moment you secure a solid grip, there is a lot of space to unload with knees to the body or go high and settle them right on the nose.
In the best-case scenario, forcing the opponent against the cage, pulling a Thai clinch and unloading with the knees will instantly empty the gas tank or destroy the opponent’s face completely. The Masters of this technique are UFC fighters Jose Aldo, Alistair Overeem, and Jon Jones.
5. Heel Hook (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)
The fact that Heel Hooks are banned in many gyms and all Jiu-Jitsu and Sambo tournaments speak for itself. Also, it’s easier to find the videos showing the brutality of this technique (mostly the highlights of controversial Rousimar Palhares) than the original creator of the move.
The technique itself is simple, the key is to secure the opponent’s knee, prevent it from moving to the side and you’re ready to pull the hook on his heel with both hands.
However, you need extra caution while performing this move as it requires a very little force to dislocate the opponent’s ankle or tear the ligaments. Basically, a slight mistake can quickly result in a career-ending injury.
4. Rubber Guard (Jiu-Jitsu)
In case you’re uncomfortable being on the bottom in the fight and not having the necessary skill set to secure the submission, there is always an opportunity to pull the rubber guard! Also known as Mission Control, rubber guard may look simple but on the other hand naturally requires extensive flexibility.
By controlling the opponent’s posture with one arm and one leg, you instantly stop the further action. Waiting for the referee to stand you up is always a smarter move than receiving the ground and pound damage or getting choked unconscious.
3. Pull Guard (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)
While wrestlers rely on slamming people with single and double leg takedowns, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters maintain a kind of different approach. One of the most effective and easy to learn moves is the guard pulling. Interestingly, it genuinely has the most success against wrestlers!
This technique could be executed in different ways but generally during the clinch from which you can grab the opponent, make him unbalanced and drag to the mat. The other way is to literally jump and perform a leaping pull by locking your hands around the waist and force them to follow you down.
Whatever approach you take, be careful, pulling a guard implies to have a good submission game off your back, preferably triangle chokes, armbars or at least great scrambles to reverse the position.
2. Jab (Boxing)
If you walk through the doors of any MMA or boxing gym in the world, your initial task will be to stand in front of the mirror and learn how to throw a jab. For every fighter, there is nothing better than an educated jab which combined with decent footwork can bring a ton of success both defensively and offensively.
At first, many fighters use the jab to measure their distance and stop the opponents from advancing forward by continuously touching the forehead and interrupting their timing and ability to reset.
Don’t get me wrong, a stiff jab can cause a lot of damage, especially the broken nose or big swellings under the eyes. However, power and damage are coming behind it though the variety of punching and kicking combinations.
UFC fighter Israel Adesanya is probably the best at properly maintaining distance and setting up the combos using this basic technique.
1. Double/Single Leg Takedowns (Wrestling)
In recent years, we’re witnessing sheer wrestling domination in every UFC Division and by taking a closer look into their styles we may spot the “perfect formula”. A powerful wrestler with subpar boxing skills like Khabib Nurmagomedov is a puzzle to be solved in the future.
The reason why Double/Single leg takedown is considered one of the best MMA moves is because scoring multiple takedowns in a single round can quickly exhaust the opponent and definitely kill the opponent’s fighting spirit for the rest of the battle.
When a fighter is taken down by Double/Single leg takedown in MMA fighting, their movement is immobilized, thereby unable to implement their game plan while being taken down.
Also, it has a big psychological effect! We’ve perceived elite strikers hesitant to punch or kick is due to the pure fear of being taken down.
That said, faking the takedowns and coming over the top with the unorthodox looping punches is getting more popular and highly effective. We all remember Nurmagomedov shocking the world by landing that big right hand on McGregor’s chin, right?
For many people, MMA fighters are superhumans, and in some form, they are. However, behind every hero is sacrifice, determination and hard work. Although some techniques on this list may be easier to master than the others, the recipe for success is still the same.
Train hard, fail many times, pick yourself up and continue to march forward! Once you think that you know everything, the sport will be there to remind you that new techniques are coming and that the only way to stay on top is to never stop learning!