Recently the UFC posted the full main event from UFC 135, Jon Jones's title defense against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. This gives me all the excuse I need to do a Judo Chop on Jones's brilliant inside trip on Jackson. The trip initiated the final sequence of the fight, which resulted in a Jones choke out of Jackson.
I believe that this trip was Jones's most impressive technique of the entire fight, and more should have been said about it. Unfortunately, when this fight occurred, I had only recently discovered Bloody Elbow, and was yet to attempt to actually write about anything wrestling related. But here I am now, better late than never, to chop up Jones's inside trip into its component parts for the betterment of all.
Jones's trip, in this instance, may not only be a flash of a rare and beautiful technique. Rather, it may be a harbinger of what is to come in MMA, as this take down method will likely become more and more prolific in mixed martial arts. Jon Jones, love him or hate him, is a marvel not only because he represents the best the sport can offer now, but also because he provides what may be a glimpse into the sport's future.
After the jump, a discussion of inside trips, their potential future in MMA, Jones's inside trip on Rampage, and some impressive bonus moves, all with awesome gifs from Zombie Prophet
I believe one of the greatest assets possessed by a fighter in mixed martial arts is the ability to obtain offensive take downs without shooting. Lowering one's level and taking a shot is a fine way to achieve a takedown, but it comes with a number of potential problems. Shooting for a takedown uses an incredible amount of energy, it leaves the shooter open to countering knees and submissions, and the science of setting up a shot in an MMA context still leaves plenty of room for development.
Standing takedowns offer a fighter a means to execute a low risk, low energy take down which feeds more naturally into a striking situation. They also offer an additional advantage of a relatively high likelihood to land in a position of control. Skill- sets incorporating trips and throws are invaluable in MMA now, and will only become more precious as quality standard take down defense proliferates. Trips, in particular, offer a safe, controlled and extremely effective was to achieve fight-altering takedowns, and no trip is more powerful and involves less risk than a properly executed inside trip. I believe that the inside trip is the most under-utilized wrestling technique in all of MMA.
Inside trips are more sophisticated and effective than other trips, but they require a great deal of athleticism and dexterity, and this is why they are not seen with greater frequency. The following gif, featuring two-time NCAA champion, Travis Lee, shows why it can be so difficult to hit an inside trip.
An inside trip involves many moving parts. First there is a control tie with the upper body. This usually takes the form of an under-hook or over-hook. The control tie accomplishes three things:
1. Control ties automatically get a wrestler past the hand and elbow layers of defense and provides access the leg which is to be tripped.
2. The tie pulls the opponent's torso vertical. it is good to stand someone up a bit before tripping.
3. It provides a handle for the tripper to use to pull an opponent's weight over the tripped leg.
In addition to establishing a control tie, properly executing an inside trip requires the tripper to close distance between him and his opponent. Lee accomplishes this with a forward hop step with his back foot.
Finally there is the trip itself. This involves reaching the tripping leg between the opponent's legs and hooking the leg being tripped. The hook demands the lower part of the tripping leg to be held outward, as close to parrallel to the ground as possible. The tripping leg needs to hook knee-deep behind the leg being tripped, and needs to be held there. Once the hook is established behind the opponents leg, weight needs to be applied over the hip of the hooked leg, thus competing the trip. In a properly executed inside trip, the tripping leg will slide down around the opponent's calf, and the tripping knee will hit the mat.
Inside trips are surprisingly complicated. In every gif in the article, the trips will look incredibly easy. This is not a function of the move, but of the incredible skill level of the wrestlers demonstrating the move.
Jon Jones Trip On Rampage Jackson
Jon Jones's inside trip at UFC 135 was hit from a front headlock. It was the exact same trip as above, but executed from a different hold. An inside trip from a front headlock is demonstrated in the gif below by Michael Liuzzi.
Notice how Michael pulls the head and takes a back step before hitting the trip, this forces his partner (NCAA champ, Zach Esposito) to step his targeted his leg forward. This is another distance closing method and employs a back step, the most often overlooked of wrestling's seven basic skills.
Jones's trip on Jackson is nearly identical to this, and it is preceded by an interesting progression of wrestling positions. Jones first achieves an over-under body lock on Jackson. Almost all offense from this position is predicated on stepping in to the "danger zone" between an opponents legs. Jones wants to step into Jackson's zone with one leg and then swing the other leg around for a knee-block throw. Jackson, to his credit, is savvy enough to block Jones from taking the initial step, and prevents the first throw attempt.
Jones, like any good wrestler, proceeds to another hold. He relinquishes the body lock, and reaches up over Jackson's head to secure a front head lock. This is a progression of holds common in Greco-Roman wrestling. I believe that once Jackson is sucked forward into the front headlock, his primary concern is getting choked, and he grabs Jones wrists to prevent this. Instead of attempting a choke, Jones hooks his left leg behind Jackson's right for the inside trip. The trip is nicely done, he hooks knee deep, the foot is held of the ground, and the tripping leg lands knee to the mat, behind Rampage's calf.
Particularly noteworthy is that Jones pulls this off without the need of a space closing technique. He takes neither a hop step with his back leg, nor a back-step to draw Jackson's leg closer. This speaks to the insane length of Jones's dimensions, and probably wouldn't work for humans not endowed with seemingly magical athletic gifts. Little details like this are a window from which to witness the true rarity of Jon Jones's talents.
Technique Progressions From The Inside Trip Position
Good wrestling is all about progressions of techniques. With every door that closes, at least two more open (I have previously discussed the idea of a wrestling "decision tree, which I should go to the trouble of writing, but compiling one that is exhaustive would be...exhausting). Here I feature two throwing opportunities which arise from an unfinished inside trip.
First we have a wrestler, whom I believe is current Princeton University 125 pounder, Garrett Frey, hitting a sweet kickback throw off of a stopped inside trip attempt. He appears to attempt an inside trip from an overhook, idenitifies the fact that he probably won't be able to finish the move, and instead plants his foot, rotates his hips into his opponent, and kicks his leg straight back, displacing his opponent's inside leg. Garrett finishes this throw by continuing to pull on his partner's far arm, while maintaining the kick back and rotation.
I should mention that this footage was taken while Frey was in high school at Blair Academy, the nation's premier wrestling high school, and that it is exceedingly rare for a wrestler at this age to demonstrate this sort of technical depth in this situation.
The final technique from an inside trip position is demonstrated by Oklahoma State heavyweight, Alan "Z" Gelogaev. I believe that the particular technique featured in the gifs below is a counter to a single leg, but Z hits this move off of offensive trips regularly, so this sequence is still relevant.
This is simply gorgeous wrestling, there are no two ways about it. Z throws his opponent by wrapping his toes all the way around the heel of his opponent's hooked leg. This allows him to elevate the hooked leg forward and to twist his body backwards. Force is created by pushing off the planted left foot and achieving an under-hook to the opponent's far side with the left arm. Z manages to twist with enough force that he has enough momentum to fling his hips all the way over his opponent and land in a pinning position. To use the vernacular of today's youth, this throw is sick nasty.
Oh, and you might recognize the opponent as Minnesota's reigning NCAA heavyweight champion, Tony Nelson. Z trounced him last year and was only prevented from a national championship run of his own by a freak injury. He is my pick to win NCAA's this year, and his height and arsenal of incredible trips and throws makes him, in my mind, collegiate wrestling's top MMA prospect. But I digress.
The point of this chop was to show the powerful of the inside trip is, and how it could be a real force in MMA's future. Additionally, I wanted to show how Jon Jones used the technique quite impressively to help him defeat Rampage Jackson. Finally I wanted to provide some really impressive techniques stemming from an inside trip.
I hope the mission has been accomplished.