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Learning the Fundamentals of Wrestling with Chael Sonnen

Learning the Fundamentals of Wrestling with Chael Sonnen


Most people know Chael Sonnen as the trash talking MMA star. While this is true, many people might not realize that not only does Sonnen have a heavy background in wrestling, he is still an active and outspoken ambassador for the sport. 

Sonnen remained in his home state and wrestled for the University of Oregon where he was a two time PAC 10 runner up and an NCAA All-American. In addition to wrestling in college, Sonnen saw success in Greco-Roman wrestling. He took first place at the University Greco Nationals in 1999 and in 2000. He went on to take silver at the 2000 University Greco World Championships, and also in 2000 he almost made the Olympic team in Greco placing third at the Olympic team trials. 

With a life dedicated to combat sports, it is safe to say that Sonnen understands the importance of fundamentals. Here are a couple of fundamental wrestling techniques from Chael that you can use to improve your wrestling game.

Far Side Cradle

Cradles are a very effective way to put your opponent on their back. There are generally two different types of cradles: a far side cradle and a near side cradle. In this video, Sonnen is going to go over the basics of a far side cradle. There are many different ways to set up a far side cradle, but the first thing you need to do is learn the basics. Check out this video of Chael teaching the proper way to hit a basic far side cradle. 


As you can see in the video, when you lock up a cradle, in that position, your locked hands is stronger than your opponent’s head and legs are which allows you to turn them to their back because it neutralizes an arm and a leg at the same time. You are often able to get a cradle locked up when the guy on the bottom goes for a stand up, but another really common way is how Sonnen showed where you use a crossface to bring the head close to the knee. It is not a nice move, but it is highly effective.

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Getting the cradle locked up is just the first step. The next step is to use it to put your opponent to their back. There are many ways to do this, but the way Sonnen shows in the video is very common, simple, and effective. Key points are to use your bottom knee to dig it into his ribs and use your temple to push into his temple. The reason you do this is to make it as tight as possible. The less your opponent can move, the less of a chance they will have at escaping. 

Like Chael says in the video, it is the basics that win championships. Even though a farside cradle may seem simple, you will see it being used at the NCAA championships every year.


One thing you learn when you start wrestling is that you will have to tie up with your opponent when you are wrestling on your feet. There are a lot of different ties you can do like collar ties, over ties, or a two on one. One of the most basic yet effective tie is an underhook. Just like the name implies, you make a hook with your arm and you use it to go under your opponent’s arm and hook onto their shoulder. This gives you inside position and from here you can hit many different attacks like a high crotch or a single leg. In this video, Sonnen explains the basics of using an underhook. 


As you can see when you watch the video, an underhook gives you a lot of control over your opponent. With an underhook, you can get your opponent to circle and move which helps to create space for an attack. Another great thing about an underhook is it gives you inside control which is great for hitting shots like single legs or high crotches. 

An underhook is one of the most common and effective ways to create space for a shot and every wrestler should know how to effectively execute a shot with one. 

Defending The Legs

There will be many times throughout your wrestling career when you are on the bottom and your opponent puts the legs. Now the best defense to the legs is to not let them in, but if your opponent is able to put them in, the next best thing to do is sit out and try to create space between your hips and your opponent’s hips. By doing this, it takes the power away from your opponent so they can’t put as much pressure on you. 

Once you sit out, the next step is to clear the leg. There are many different ways you can clear the leg. Check out this video where Sonnen goes over multiple ways of defending a leg ride.


When you watch NCAA championship matches or Olympic gold medal matches, it usually isn’t the fancy flashy moves that gets a wrestler the win. It all comes back to knowing the fundamentals of wrestling and continually working to perfect them. Even at the highest levels of training, wrestlers work on the very basics because they know how important they are. 

If you would like to learn more about the fundamentals of wrestling, be sure to check out “Wrestling Fundamentals From The Bad Guy by Chael Sonnen”. In this video, Sonnen teaches the fundamental techniques that have helped him achieve so much success on the wrestling mat and in his MMA career. 

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 fundamental wrestling to get there! WRESTLING FUNDAMENTALS FROM THE BAD GUY BY CHAEL SONNEN  HAS WHAT YOU NEED!