How to Take Down a Bigger Opponent by Henry Cejudo
Full disclosure: the author of this post is not exactly a giant among men. To give you a glimpse behind the authorial curtain, I am under 6 ft. tall and have just now gotten into welterweight status. While there is a certain comfort in knowing that my grappling skill set works against the average Joe, there is still the question of how to make it work against larger opponents.
Even if you’re not what can be affectionately referred to as a “manlet,” there’s still going to be an opponent in the mat room or in a competition who is bigger than you at some point in your athletic career. Knowing how to overcome that physical obstacle can be tricky, but it is possible. To help with this endeavor, UFC Flyweight and Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo explains how to take down opponents who are larger than you with poise and technique.
Don’t Be Under Your Opponent
This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: working a takedown directly under a larger opponent may not always work. It may seem tempting because you can go below their center of gravity faster than they can, but you’re still working with a height and weight deficit. Cejudo mentions using agility and finesse to compensate. One of the first takedowns he uses is a slide-by, where he uses the space the opponent creates by tying up and throwing the arm by with their momentum. This is safe because it does not require you to shoot on your opponent and be faced with a sprawl. It is also quick enough to avoid being in your opponent’s pocket for too long, otherwise you’re facing a pummel battle that could be decided by wingspan.
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Get Around Your Opponent
Another finish that’s similarly used is the duck-under. Cejudo’s set-up here requires a few more steps than simply popping the elbow, but it makes sense given the physical circumstances. Cejudo baits an ankle pick against his partner, Bernardo Faria, who responds by taking a step back and grabbing the collar tie on Cejudo’s right side. This is exactly what he wants as it creates additional space, just like with the slide-by above. Cejudo ducks under Faria’s tie-up and latches on with a claw ride.
Drag and Finish
After reaching the back with either the slide-by or duck-under, you still need to take your opponent down to the mat. If you’re training BJJ, you can simply jump to back mount, but there is a finish for wrestling. Using the claw ride that you established earlier, you can pull your opponent down by backstepping and dragging them into the empty space. Keeping a tight waist like Cejudo does keeps you connected to them and allows for a quick transition to riding.
Just because you’re facing someone taller or heavier doesn’t mean that you have to settle with defeat. Knowing how to get around your opponent is a key skill when dealing with a bigger opponent, and Henry Cejudo’s breakdown goes a long way to ensure that you’re on equal footing.
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