UFC 159 Judo Chop: Steven Siler's Slick Tripod Sweep

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Steven Siler and Kurt Holobaugh kicked off the UFC 159 with an excellent scrap on the the prelims and the second round featured a nice sweep and then a technical counter. T.P. Grant breaks it all down.

Steven Siler and Kurt Holobaugh started off UFC 159: Jones vs Sonnen right, with an excellent fight on the Facebook prelims. While most fans likely missed this fight, it was well worth a watch. In the second round, Siler made use of an open guard sweep not often seen in MMA and then later in that round Holobaugh demonstrated a nice counter to that sweep to set up some heavy ground striking.

The open guard is difficult in MMA due to a few factors. First, there is the presence of strikes; the space in the open guard provides ample opportunity for striking. Then there is the lack of the gi which provides grips that disrupt the top fighter's posture and balance.

When dealing with an open guard, the reaction of many fighters is to stand up and then any chance of posture control in a no gi setting is basically gone. Dealing with fighters standing in open guard is not a new problem, and savvy guard players have developed many answers to this problem, one of the most fundamental and basic being the tripod sweep.

All sweeps work on the same principles: disrupt the top fighter's balance, take away his ability to catch himself, and apply a little force to send him over. For a quick and brilliant breakdown of the tripod sweep here Stephan Kesting, a true mixed martial artist in his own right. Kesting has a very diverse background holding the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Karate, in addition to being a certified instructor in Erik Paulson's Combat Submission Wrestling, Dan Inosanto's Jeet Kune Do, Silat. He has also spent a good deal of time training in Judo, Sambo, Chinese Kung Fu, Muay Thai and other arts. In short this is man who knows what he is talking about.

Open Guard Sweep for BJJ, Submission Grappling & MMA (via Stephan Kesting)

Now let's look at how Siler applied this sweep. The first step is controlling one of the top fighter's ankles with a grip. In open guard for MMA and self defense, bottom fighters are taught to use up kicks to keep the top fighter at bay and Siler made good use of them to keep Holobaugh from establishing himself in the open guard. While Holobaugh is busy defending against the up kicks, Siler is able to establish his grip.


Once Siler has the grip, he has some control over Holobaugh's movement, and Siler then works to establish the foot on the hip. That foot is used to stretch Holobaugh out, disrupting his balance and giving Siler more control over his body.


Once Siler has both the grip on the ankle and the foot in the hip he is able to stretch Holobaugh out, disrupting his balance. As a result, Holobaugh is forced to use his right leg as his primary source of balance, moving it about to help stabilize, and Siler takes that away by hooking the knee with his left leg.


Once Siler hooked the leg he was able to complete the sweep. (G)

The tripod sweep is a functional technique, and we have seen it used in MMA before. Later in the same round, Siler attempted the same sweep and Holobaugh used a nice counter to the sweep.

Often the way to stop a sweep isn't to "escape" from it, but rather prevent it from ever developing. This means winning the grip fighting, and during that second attempt Siler was again able to establish a grip on Holobaugh's ankle, but Holobaugh countered by controlling the leg that Siler wanted to put in the hip.


Without that foot on the hip, Siler is not able to off balance Holobaugh, as a result, despite straining for the sweep Siler is unable to force Holobaugh over. Siler then begins up kicking Holobaugh, which gives him a chance to pass Siler's leg to the other side of his body.


From here Hologuah has passed Siler's leg in a pseudo-leg drag position, is able to stabilize, and then unleash some heavy striking. (G) In one round, it was a nice demonstration of open guard work both from the bottom and the top.

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