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Folkstyle Concepts in MMA – Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva

Folkstyle Concepts in MMA – Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva

Many Wrestlers over the years have made the transition to MMA. But very few have done it as well as the "Bad Guy" Chael Sonnen.

When you look at grappling in MMA, there are two main styles that are utilized at the highest levels. Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu. Since the techniques of Jiu Jitsu were instantly applicable in MMA, it has for many years been the more popular grappling style of the two, when it comes to MMA. But as more fighters are successfully adapting Wrestling concepts into MMA, the style continues to grow in popularity.

In particular, concepts from Folkstyle Wrestling are proving to be extremely effective. Folkstyle's ground work completely evolves around pinning your opponent to the mat. Not just in the sense of a winning pin with shoulders on the mat, but in the sense of keeping your opponent on the mat regardless of the orientation. From any top position, your goal is to keep your opponent from standing up and escaping first, then move on to what would be a winning pin under wrestling rules.

This is done by first breaking your opponent down, then maintain constant pressure to keep them in place while you work to turn them over for a pin. That constant trapping through positional pressure is the key. "Being heavy", making your opponent carry your weight. These are things that are ground into a Wrestler's head from day one.

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What has made this concept so successful in MMA, is that it doesn't always require the use of all of your limbs. Creating that heavy top pressure is done by maintaining a primary contact point on your opponent and a minimal amount of contact points with the mat, just enough to maintain stability. This allows you to make your opponent carry all of your weight, keeping them trapped in a particular position, while at least one of your limbs is free to throw strikes.

Stay Centered, Don't get too high, Hip Pressure, Chest to Chest, Keep your Knees off the mat. These are all things that are constantly ground into every wrestler from the first day that they step on the mat. Transitioning them to MMA is simply a matter of understanding that they aren't specific "moves" as much as they're concepts that can be applied from any position. Once you understand that and start to apply those concepts to the various positions of MMA, the outcome will be devastating.

A great example of this is with Chael Sonnen's fight with Wanderlei Silva. For majority of the first round Chael is inside Silva's guard. This means that Silva is on his back with his legs wrapped around Chael. This is a position that Wrestlers will almost never find themselves in, and Jiu Jitsu practitioners are in all the time. This is literally the primary position that their sport evolves around. Sweeps, Armbars, Chokes, there's an endless list of attacks that a Black Belt like Silva will have at his disposal from that position. But with proper positional pressure, Chael is able to negate those threats and land some serious blows.

By standing up and applying heavy hip pressure, Chael is able to keep Silva's hips trapped in place, both pinning him in that position and negating Silva's ability to throw up submissions. From there, Chael simply leans in and throws hard punches and elbows to Silva's head. Then repeats the process over and over again. Each time making sure to pin Silva in position first, then throw strikes.

Chael has made an entire career out of applying Folkstyle concepts to MMA. Trapping his opponents against the mat then landing devastating blows. Check out the video below to see him in action.


Fundamentals are crucial to success regardless of what level you are at. Chael Sonnen was one of the best wrestlers to enter into MMA, and he used his foundational wrestling to get there! WRESTLING FUNDAMENTALS FROM THE BAD GUY BY CHAEL SONNEN  HAS WHAT YOU NEED!