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Far Side Cradle by Chael Sonnen

Far Side Cradle by Chael Sonnen


Earlier this week, we discussed the far side cradle set-up from Hudson Taylor. In that analysis, Taylor demonstrated how to properly close space when locking the cradle together and create space once your opponent is close to being pinned. However, every wrestler has their own way of completing the move based on their specific body type and athletic ability. 

In the video below, notable MMA fighter and distinguished wrestler Chael Sonnen explains his variation of the far side cradle. 

“It’s the basics that are going to win championships.” Immediately, Chael puts you in the right frame of mind for hitting this move. This pinning combination is not based on flash or unorthodox maneuvering, but a fundamental understanding of your opponent’s base and how to disrupt it. As Chael points out, sometimes your opponent will disrupt their base on their own in order to move, but sometimes you need to coerce it. 

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One way that Chael disrupts his opponent’s base is by using a crossface. He brings his right arm over their right shoulder and latches onto their left shoulder. By doing so, it turns the opponent into the far side leg and takes away any power they can generate. He brings the head to the knee (not the other way around) in order to bring his free arm under their leg to lock up the pin. Bringing the knee to the head is an ineffective way to lock the cradle considering the mass and strength difference between the chain of muscles running up the leg versus the muscles running down the upper back and neck. 

To finish the cradle, Chael moves his back leg out of the way and pulls his opponent back to expose their shoulders. Even if you don’t bring them right onto their shoulder blades, you can still accumulate back points from this position if still create exposure. In order to cause the pinfall, he brings his bottom leg away from their hips (which were originally being propped up) and drives the knee into the rib cage. This is a slightly different variation than Hudson Taylor’s finish, as he chose to use the hip as his pivot point. Using the rib cage makes it more uncomfortable for the opponent and makes it more likely to elicit the pin. The similarity between Taylor’s and Sonnen’s finish is that they both rely on head pressure from the forehead. Doing so prevents the opponent from burying their head down and forcing the shoulder away. 

Chael Sonnen’s breakdown of the far side cradle is more than just another take on a popular move. His premise throughout the video is about how the basics are necessary in order to be more than just a subpar wrestler. Instead of approaching moves with the intent to impress others or be unique, try to focus your game on moves that are already established. That’s not to say that creativity is lost in wrestling, but creativity should never take the place of efficiency. Moves like Sonnen’s far side cradle are evidence of this fact and remind us again that sometimes it just takes the classics to win.

Chael Sonnen's wrestling is Top Notch! One of the best to ever do it in wrestling and MMA, Chael now has his sights set on you! Get back to the basics with Wrestling Fundamentals From The Bad Guy!