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How to Defend the Single Leg Against a Bigger Opponent by Angel Cejudo

How to Defend the Single Leg Against a Bigger Opponent by Angel Cejudo


In an ideal match, you would be paired with somebody who relatively matches your size and weight. Obviously weight classes were established to safely pair up competitors on a level playing field, but you’re not always going to face someone who mirrors your body type. Whether you’re working with heavier opponents in the mat room or you’ve decided to bump up weight classes, you need to know how to work against this physical disadvantage. 

With extra size comes another layer of stress when facing the takedown. In the video below, 2008 Dave Schultz Memorial freestyle winner Angel Cejudo demonstrates how to defend the single leg takedown against larger opponents with the same techniques his brother, UFC champion Henry Cejudo, uses in the Octagon. 

Have a Back-Up Plan

One of the main premises that Angel discusses in the video with Bernardo Faria is always having a back-up plan. If your opponent is shooting on your leg, one of your first instincts should be to move your leg back. However, Faria has already gotten proper penetration on Angel and is now in position for the finish. Since Angel can’t move his leg back, his next response is to push Faria’s head down. Head positioning is a substantial part of finishing the single leg as it can be used as a directional indicator, so moving the head down to the mat prevents him from driving any further. 

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Spin and Grab the Waist

From here, Angel has Faria in a poor position, but his leg is still captured. Rather than looking to pull the leg out and create distance, Angel does the opposite: he looks to make a connection. He puts pressure on Faria’s head and shoulder, uses his free leg to push into him, and spins his free arm around to cover the waist.This gives Angle a chance to slip his leg out and cover the hips, securing his two takedown points. It may seem risky at first since you’re turning your back to your opponent while you spin, but you should have enough time to get to their waist quickly due to head pressure. 

Additional Details

There are a few other salient points that need to be discussed regarding Angel and Faria’s positions throughout the exchange. When Angel is pressuring the head after the shot, he is also bringing his trapped leg down to the knee and keeping it bent. Staying on the knee gives him a pivot point to make the spin much easier to accomplish than merely having it extended. Faria’s hips are also higher than his head, so his drive is shut down. His insight as the offensive player at the end of the video is also important: as the larger opponent, he would be better off with Angel looking to sprawl rather than pressure the head. According to Faria, he would still be able to pull the leg in and drive through Angle based on his larger frame. By contrast, pressuring the head brings him down to Angel’s proverbial level. 

Larger opponents come with their own unique set of hurdles, especially if they are on the offensive. By pressuring the head and coming up with back-up plans in case your first line of defense fails, you can work to defend the single leg against larger opponents like Angel Cejudo.  

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