clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Takedown breakdown: Jon Jones’ use of the inside trip

New, comments

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones uses clinch-based takedowns to set up his best attacks

While there is evidence to suggest the wrestling skill and strategy of Jon Jones has regressed in recent years, the long-time UFC light heavyweight champion has delivered plenty of memorable wrestling moments throughout his career.

Early on, his best takedowns came off the clinch pressure of his opponents. Fighters like Stephan Bonnar would push straight in, from any tie-up, then gasp in surprise as Jones countered their momentum and sent them head over heels.

Eventually, as Jones’ stock rose and fighters began to scout him, his opponents stopped giving him such easy looks in the clinch and looked for ways to stall out or exit those clinch positions.

Similarly, leg attacks weren’t just falling into his lap as they were before, the majority of his opposition recognized that leaping straight in against a wrestler was a bad idea.

These sweeping strategic changes led to the development of Jones’ modern wrestling style in MMA - double legs against the cage.

Jon Jones hits a beautiful inside trip-to double leg

Jon Jones has looked for an inside trip a good number of times throughout his UFC career.

It’s a tough maneuver to pull off in mixed martial arts, the ideal situation would be your opponent planting or pushing in from over-unders. However, if they see it coming, they’re going to back out and you’ll fall short. In a wrestling or grappling context you’ll have time to play with the timing, but with the threat of clinch striking those opportunities aren’t always as available.

Against Stephan Bonnar, Jones was able to freeze him up with a two-on-one and use his length to attack the far leg on the inside trip, which was really only possible because of Bonnar’s narrow stance and the length of Jones.

But when faced with an opponent with a wrestling background and a bit more defensive awareness from static positions like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Jones had no success. Unlike some of Jones’ other clinch attacks, detailed in this piece, there is no real creation of motion or setup for his inside trip. On his osoto gari or his hip throw, for example, Jones is kneeing straight up the middle, forcing his opponent to turn in, attempting to shield their body. This lines up their hips and stance for a number of attacks.

With the inside trip, Jones is able to step in and hook inside with his lead leg, but his opponents are still strong enough in their stance that they can step out and get their hips back.

In mixed martial arts, if your opponent is thwarting your attacks by backing straight up, there’s a simple solution. Pressure to the outer boundaries until they run out of real estate.

Against Lyoto Machida, Jones demonstrated how to capitalize on this concept.

VIDEO CLIP: Jon Jones finishes takedowns using the inside trip near the cage

There are a few interesting points to note here.

Similar to what we’ve been seeing from Petr Yan lately, Jon Jones uses reactive head movement to enter into clinch situations. While Yan has been hitting outside slips to move off-center and pivot, Jones is more so ducking and crashing in. He’s much closer to a younger Jussier Formiga.

Jones sees Machida throwing the lead hand, anticipates the rear hand and dips under as he steps in to enter the clinch.

Jones Machida clinch entry

As Jones rises back into his stance, he snatches up an overhook on the lead-side and digs an underhook on the far-side.

The two are fighting in an open stance matchup, meaning their lead feet are aligned. It’s the perfect situation for an inside trip.

There are two typical finishes in a wrestling context for the inside trip. The first relies on creating motion to set up the entry. The attacking wrestler looks to pull their opponent into them without compromising their own stance. Once that motion is created, they can “crow-hop” in and hook that inside leg. The trip is finished largely because of the way the explosive entry capitalizes on their forward momentum, knocking them straight over. The more common finish is more reliant on the attacking wrestler’s motion after the entry. From a relatively static position, the attacking wrestler hops in bladed to hook that lead leg, then torques toward that tripping side as they square their stance back up and bear their weight forward. The defending wrestler’s weight trends toward the weakened side of their base, and they fall.

As he’s the one pressing forward, Jones opts for the latter finish.

While his lead hook is a bit shallow and low on the leg, it’s enough to put Machida off balance. Jones sinks down on that overhook, sending Machida falling backward, and he punches with the underhook, pushing him into the cage. A nice touch is that before attacking the trip, Jones stands tall with the over-under, straightening Machida in his stance and narrowing his base. Because Machida is focused on staying upright once the trip comes, he’s completely vulnerable to the ensuing double leg.

Jones Machida inside trip

The double leg itself comes directly off the motion of the inside trip. As he hops in on the trip, Jones slides his underhook down to the leg, and reaches through the overhook on the other side to secure the double. Jones is essentially using the inside trip to fall into this double leg entry, and Machida has nowhere to go.

Jones finishes the entry on his knees, bundles the legs and pressures in with his head in Machida’s chest. As he stands, he yanks the legs straight out and lifts them high. That, in combination with that head pressure, puts Machida on his back.

Jones Machida double leg

Jones hits one of the most exaggerated cage doubles I’ve ever seen. On the rise he literally jumps to get height on Machida’s legs and flings his hips backward. It’s an extremely effective method for peeling your opponent off the cage with a double.

It’s a beautiful sequence, but the way Jones was able to manipulate Machida’s posture, as well as his ability to secure a tight double through an underhook, is a tall order for most other fighters. Those techniques and strategies are largely viable because of Jones’ unique attributes. Kevin Lee is one of the only other fighters you see consistently locking doubles through his opponents’ underhooks, and his arm proportions are similarly freakish for the weight. It takes a combination of rare physical attributes, including tremendous strength.

In a way this inside trip-to double from over-unders is a great representation of Jones as a fighter. There is plenty of deep and valid technique involved, but it’s something that could really only work for him in this specific way. Jones and his team have crafted a game that suits him, and despite any holes or room for improvement, he’s been able to execute repeatedly against seasoned pros.