Ground Series : The Sweep

In MMA most consider being on the bottom a losing position which is totally untrue especially if you're facing someone of Nogueira's caliber. Their bottom game is so difficult to deal with because of the sweeps they have added to their guard/half guard. Today we will cover the many sweeps of the guard, half guard, and butterfly guard position.

The Flower Pendulum Sweep

The Flower or Pendulum Sweep is done from the open guard, most use it as a second move to go to when you miss an armbar. It starts by underhooking the leg of your opponent then using your other leg like a pendulum to swing your opponent over with the rocking motion of the other leg.

Here is Demarques Johnson executing a great Flower Sweep, watch as he underhooks the leg, then swings the free leg to create almost a "rocking chair" motion. Notice the lifting of the hooked leg timed with the the swing which forces his opponent to lose balance and be sweeped.

This was one of the staple go-to guard technique of the early young Georges St. Pierre. Sad to see him abandon such great move but he rarely spends time on his back anymore. Here is a GIF of St. Pierre executing a perfect flower pendulum sweep.

Watch as GSP creates space between their hips by "cutting his hips" sideways. This creates less distance for his right hand to hook Spratt's left leg. St. Pierre then creates a massive swing to tilt and and eventually sweep him. This is a picture perfect flower pendulum sweep.

The Butterfly Hook Sweep

The butterfly sweep is a move that requires hooking one of the legs of your opponent with the instep of your foot then lifting the hooked leg over to sweep. The butterfly sweep is a great move to hit especially when you have a wrist or arm trapped to prevent a post.

In my honest opinion, I thought Miguel Torres beat Demetrious Johnson just because he was more active off of his back and attacked with submissions and sweeps constantly. In the GIF below, Torres hits an excellent butterfly sweep on Johnson.

Watch as Torres overhooks the right arm of Johnson to prevent him from posting to stop the sweep. Also notice how he doesn't stop lifting the hooked leg until he is completely flipped.

From a different angle, you can clearly see the overhook in usage. Watch as Torres wraps a tight overhook to stop the posting and continues to a top position.


The Butterfly Guard position in general can be used for many situations such as getting back to your feet. In the GIF below, Cain Velasquez uses the butterfly guard to elevate Brock Lesnar for a split second to grab wrist control to a perform a standup.


Watch Brock's hips start to elevate when Cain pushes off with the butterfly hooks, this creates enough space for Cain to escape back to his feet.

In case you missed to elevation, just take a look at this picture.


You can clearly see Brock's hips off balance and Cain's right butterfly hook doing the lifting. Look how Brock is forced to post with his right hand or else he would be sweeped.

The Half-Guard Sweep/Submissions from Deep Half-Guard

The Half-Guard is a very interesting position as it allows a variety of options to choose from. Everything from standing up with an underhook to attacking the base of your opponent. Some fighters are known for their infamous deep half-guard like Mauricio Rua, as he attacks with heel hooks.

The Deep Half-Guard position is rarely utilized in MMA as most consider it a dangerous spot to eat punches to the face. Shogun would disagree as he as swept and even submitted many tough fighters from that position. The deep half-guard position is advantageous with an underhook on the trapped leg side.

Below, Shogun transitions to the deep half guard on Kevin Randleman and pushes deeper and deeper until he is completely under him. Randleman is so far forward he loses balance and Shogun immediately starts attacking the leg.

Looking back into Shogun's career, his half-guard consists of a very complex method of breaking down opponent from the deep half guard position. He favors wrapping the right leg of his opponent after many analyzes. Again, below is Shogun obtaining the deep half guard on Mark Coleman and uses that to transition to a heel hook.

Below, Torres shoots in for a deep half-guard then looks for a sweep but Johnson smashes his half guard and positions upward. Torres uses the space between them to hip up and threatens with a heel hook. Beautiful stuff right here!

Torres' jiu-jitsu flows almost perfectly as he is able to switch sides for the heel hook which doesn't happen to often. Watch the hip spin to the other leg.

Kimura Sweep

The kimura sweep is an excellent secondary move to hit when your opponent expects the kimura attempt. The defense to the kimura is to pin your entire body weight onto that wrist to prevent the pull out of your wrist, starting the rotation. Downside to this is that it opens you up to be sweeped, because of all the weight you pin onto one side your body.

Here is Stefan Struve hitting the kimura sweep on Sean McCorkle, watch how Sean anticipates the kimura then starts to defend by pinning his wrist down. Struve uses this against him and hips into him then pushes off of his left foot that drives off the mat. This is almost like the scissor sweep as the motion of the flip can resemble the scissor sweep.

The sweep was the major keypoint in allowing Struve to win by reversing the positions.

Here is Miguel Torres' kimura sweep against Johnson. Again, I thought Torres won fair and square but the uneducated judges saw something else, maybe Brittany Palmer's butt lol. Even though Torres didn't lock in a Kimura, he still used the motion of the sweep to catch him off guard.

In case you missed it, Torres closes his guard right after the sweep to prevent Johnson from escaping the mount. Now that's advanced! Look at Johnson squirm like a worm!

The Scissor Sweep

The scissor sweep is exactly what it sounds like. The cutting or scissor motion of the body causes the opponent to almost be cut in half and flipped to their back. This sweep can only be executed when you're hipped outwards and create a open guard scenario.

Below is more of a variant of the scissor sweep but it is the same concept as Silva chops one way and chops the other. Silva instead chops the lower shin of Franklin instead of the upper thigh because of how much stronger the thigh is opposed to the shin. He doesn't get the complete sweep but enough time to base and fight back to his feet.

The GIF below is what a textbook perfect scissor sweep should look like. One leg spread across the hip and the other on the lower portion of the leg to do the "cutting" like a scissor. If you look carefully, the leg placed across his opponent's hip is preventing him from pressuring forward which is an important key or else his opponent may attempt to pass his guard.

If done properly, you should be left in an advantageous mount position and hopefully be able to finish the fight from there.

Of course there many more types of guard/half-guard/butterfly guard sweeps but I just covered the most well-known and basic ones! I hope you guys enjoyed these posts, and thanks for the compliments in the previous posts!

Sam Park

Check out my other posts!

The Hellbow (Elbow)

Jon Jones the Judoka

Takedown Series : Double Leg Takedowns

Takedown Series : Single Leg Takedowns

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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