How To Use Body Shots To Improve Your MMA Game

Body shots are a versatile tool for any fighter looking to improve their MMA game. From draining an opponent’s stamina to setting up and masking takedowns, a well-placed body shot can change the course of any fight. Today, Evolve University is pleased to share a guide on how to use body shots to improve your MMA game. 


Controlling The Fight

Body shots are an integral tool for any fighter looking to dictate the pace of an MMA fight. Body jabs and teeps can stop the momentum of an opponent looking to close the gap, which can be useful for slowing the pace of the fight against aggressive opponents that are looking for the knockout. 

Teeps to the body are an essential tool for draining an opponent’s stamina over the course of the fight. In general, it is best to strike with the ball of your foot and toes pulled back to avoid injury. There are many targets for the teep to the body; however, the two most widely used are the solar plexus and the bladder. Both of these targets are on the centerline of an opponent’s body, decreasing the chance of your foot sliding off and you losing balance. Teeping the solar plexus and the bladder also disrupts an opponent’s breathing, which can be especially devastating if you catch them during an inhale. Repeated teeps over the course of a full MMA fight, be it three or five rounds, will leave an opponent unable to move at full speed or strike with full power. 

Teeps can also be thrown at the upper legs or pelvis area. This is especially useful if you prefer to stay at long range and are aiming to avoid the clinch. While not as draining as teeps to the solar plexus or bladder, landing a teep to the thigh or pelvis/oblique area can be easier to land and harder to catch for the opponent. A variation of this is the controversial oblique kick, aimed at an opponent’s knees. Regardless of your opinion on the ethics of this technique, it’s clear that teeps and similar kicks aimed at the legs are extremely effective. 


Jorge Masvidal Picking Donald Cerrone Apart With Teep Feints

Conversely, body shots can be used to overwhelm a defensive opponent and force them to fight at your pace. Closing the gap and fighting on the inside of clinch range gives you ample opportunities to land hard shovel hooks to the body, as well as knees. This allows you to wear away at your opponent’s defenses faster than if you were to just headhunt. 


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A skilled fighter will be able to use body shots on the inside and at long range to give their opponents different looks. This will make them hesitant to commit to anything they throw, giving you the opportunity to land more while being hit less. 


Setting Up Body Knockouts

Body shots can also be used to set up spectacular, highlight-reel knockouts. The basic idea is to occupy an opponent’s attention and their guard with strikes downstairs to set up a devastating knockout blow to their chin. A classic example of this is the body jab followed by an overhand with the rear hand. A simple variation of this would be to throw a few crosses to the body. When your opponent is conditioned to guard their body, drop your weight as if throwing another body cross, but throw the overhand instead. This pattern of body strikes to head strikes can be utilized in many different ways to suit your individual fighting style. For example, former bantamweight ONE champion, John Lineker, is known for his devastating punches, particularly his lead hook. Many of his knockouts follow this same pattern of body strikes to head strikes. Since he is often the shorter fighter with a reach disadvantage, he closes the gap to use powerful hook punches from the inside. He will often land a knockout by throwing a rear hook to the body, followed by a lead hook.

Body shots can also end fights when they are well-placed and timed with power. The pattern to set up a knockout shot to the body is the inverse of the setup for a knockout shot to the head. You want to occupy your opponent’s guard and attention with strikes to the head, then watch for an opening in their guard to land a devastating body shot. The liver blow is a popular technique in boxing and works just as well in MMA.


Body Shot Knockouts

Kicks are also an effective way to land body shots in MMA. Choosing to kick instead of punch lets you stay out of clinch range and gives you more potential for damage since body kicks can be especially difficult to block. One such example is when Fabricio Andrade faced Kwon Won Il in 2022. Andrade landed a left liver kick from southpaw that crumpled Il and ended the fight. Although Il was blocking his midsection, Andrade’s kick managed to go around and behind his block. 


Body Shot Targets

Although hitting the body anywhere will cause pain and damage, targeting vital organs is far more effective, for both draining your opponent’s stamina or setting up a knockout. The vital organs that you want to aim for are the liver, spleen, and kidneys. The solar plexus is also an effective target, even though it is not considered a vital organ.

MMA Legend Bas Rutten once effectively used his opponent’s body as a target to throw an exaggerated left hook, meant to occupy his opponent’s vision, before launching his left kick into his opponent’s liver. This setup also works on the opposite side to land a kick or knee to an opponent’s spleen.

You can also target an opponent’s kidneys if they have a habit of turning away from you. George Foreman used this technique to great effect in boxing, but it can also work in MMA. 

Body shots are an often underappreciated part of an experienced MMA fighter’s game. Adding them to your arsenal will instantly increase your own skill level. Practice these on the heavy bag and pads, and try them in your next sparring session!


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