Mastering The 50/50 Clinch Position In MMA

Knowing how to fight in the clinch is a crucial part of mixed martial arts (MMA) and you’re going to find yourself in the 50/50 clinch position from time to time. The position is characterized by both fighters securing one underhook in the clinch. It is considered to be a neutral position for the most part, but MMA judges tend to be biased against fighters who have their backs pinned against the cage. 

This article will explore the 50/50 clinch, techniques that work from the position, and the importance of mastering how to fight out of it if you want to be successful in MMA. 


How To Dominate The 50/50 Clinch Position

The 50/50 clinch involves both fighters securing control over each other’s neck and arm. Unlike other clinch positions like the Muay Thai plum, the 50/50 clinch doesn’t give either fighter an advantage. 

The 50/50 clinch is a neutral position from a fighting standpoint, but you can turn it into a beneficial position by taking advantage of the striking opportunities, control, and takedowns/throws available from the position. 



Securing a 50/50 clinch means you’re just one move away from having double underhooks, meaning both of your arms weave under your opponent’s armpits. Double underhooks are the strongest clinch position grappling wise and it’s a lot easier to control someone’s body from the position. 

Once you secure double underhooks, you have many trips, throws, and takedowns to use to put your opponent on the canvas or you can use the control it gives you to pin opponents against the cage and earn points for control. 

Depending on how good your grappling skills are, it’s also possible to take opponents down or pin them against the cage from the 50/50 position. Judo throws, in particular, are easier to execute from the 50/50 clinch. 


Head Positioning

Proper head positioning is crucial when you find yourself in the 50/50 clinch. Try to control the centerline by pinning your forehead against your opponent’s face or chin. This makes it extremely difficult for opponents to throw strikes at you from the position or work their takedowns. 

Using your head to physically restrict your opponent’s view and the direction they can freely turn their head severely limits their offensive options. 


Offensive Techniques You Can Use In 50/50 Clinch

Now that we’ve gone over some of the key things you can do to make yourself stronger in the 50/50 clinch position, let’s take a more detailed look at some of the offensive options you get to choose from. 

  • Striking Opportunities: You can land strikes like knees, uppercuts, short elbows, and hooks from the 50/50 clinch position. You can also do lots of dirty boxing from the position. The key to optimizing your strikes from this position is to stick to only a few strikes before reestablishing the clinch. Throw too many strikes and your opponent will eventually use one of the openings to escape.
  • Throws And Takedowns: A well-executed throw or takedown from the 50/50 position can change the course of a fight. There are several sweeps, hip tosses, and trips that can be executed from the 50/50 to ground opponents. One of the keys to successfully executing throws and takedowns from the clinch is learning to disrupt your opponent’s balance by pushing and pulling on them before going for your move.
  • Knee Strikes: The 50/50 clinch is a great position to throw knee strikes from, particularly those aimed at the body. Throwing a knee the moment you feel balanced in the 50/50 clinch is a good habit to form since it can make your opponent overly focused on avoiding your strikes instead of looking to take you down or control you with it. However, knee strikes in the clinch should be timed precisely since a cage-savvy opponent can grab your leg and use it to execute a sweep or takedown.


Defending Yourself In The 50/50 Clinch

Some of the things you should keep in mind if you find yourself getting dominated in the 50/50 clinch include: 

  • Maintain Your Balance: Maintaining your balance is one of the most important things you can do when you find yourself in any clinch position. Losing your balance makes it a lot easier for opponents to work their takedowns on you.
  • Defend Against Strikes: The 50/50 position is an excellent position to throw short strikes from so use head movement to avoid punches and elbows. You can limit the force behind an opponent’s knees by pushing on their things to hinder their ability to generate force. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with strikes in the 50/50, pummel for double underhooks or break away depending on what’s available for you.
  • Creating Openings For Escapes: The 50/50 clinch is a neutral position at the end of the day, so you should always look to transition to more favorable positions when you’re in it. If you want to stay clinched with your opponent, look for double underhooks to give you more control and takedown options. If you’re more of a stand-and-bang type of fighter, look to create space and escape from the position. Framing with your arms or elbows is an effective way to create space in clinch positions.


Benefits Of Mastering The 50/50 clinch

Some of the reasons why you should dedicate some time to mastering the 50/50 clinch include:

  • Versatility: The 50/50 clinch adds an extra layer of versatility to your skill set. Becoming proficient in the position allows you to seamlessly transition between grappling and striking exchanges, keeping your opponents guessing and off-balanced.
  • Strategic Advantage: Mastering the 50/50 clinch gives you a strategic advantage inside the cage since that allows you to dominate what should be a neutral position. It’s similar to how MMA fighters with good bottom guards can turn the position into an advantageous one for them. You can pin your opponent against the cage to earn control time in the 50/50 and you can use it to set up your takedowns.
  • Scores Points: Effective control and aggression is one of the criteria mixed martial arts judges award points for. Landing effective strikes in the 50/50 or using it to control your opponent against the cage makes it look like you’re winning the fight in the judge’s eyes.


It’s Worth The Effort

Mastering the 50/50 clinch position gives you an advantage inside the cage regardless of whether you’re a striker or grappler. You can start drilling this with a training partner or during sparring


You may also like: 

Is the Superman Punch Still Effective In MMA?