How viable is the 50/50 position in MMA?

by Luke Thomas
November 25, 2012

Can an esoteric leg entanglement that's growing in the sport of jiu-jitsu and beginning to rear its head in MMA be a viable position to win in a fight? Ryan Hall - ADCC bronze medalist, black belt and master of the 50/50 - weighs in on its future.

If there is a constant in MMA, it's that the techniques popularized and used to win are in constant evolution. While many high-level grapplers have said much of sport jiu-jitsu is useless for MMA, a curious adaptation could be happening.

The 50/50 position, a leg entanglement popularized and used in more recent years in sport jiu-jitsu, has been on display in two key MMA bouts. The first was between Rousimar Palhares and Alan Belcher at UFC on Fox 3. The second was a week ago at Bellator 81 between Marcin Held and Rich Clementi. Leg locks have historically been successful in MMA, but also carry significant risk in their application. 50/50 offers something new: less risk of punishment, but demands a higher degree of positional and leg attack acumen. It also requires a commitment to the position.

While it's too early to suggest this is the new frontier in leg attacks in MMA, the appearances of it are intriguing. They also force one to ask the very basic question: can 50/50 be a path for victory in MMA? Are these one-offs of the 50/50 or the start of something larger? What challenges are presented in the 50/50 in MMA versus jiu-jitsu?

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