Relive Three UFC Fights & Thai Clinch Flops
The plum is one of the deadliest clinch techniques utilized in Muay Thai.
Usually referred to as just a “Muay Thai clinch” or simply “Thai clinch,” it is often solely characterized as having a dominant double collar tie. However, the technique itself serves to break down the opponent by negating any punches in close quarters and by drawing the body/head nearer to incoming massive knees.
Unsurprisingly, outside of Muay Thai, not every fighter is a master of its techniques because they locked in a Thai clinch a couple of times in their careers. Not every plum position is so skillfully executed inside the MMA arena. In fact, the plum position, when executed with poor control can also serve as a double-edged sword.
Let’s take a look at some of the MMA fights where the application of the plum clinch backfired.
Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman II
Silva sets up a nice under hook with his left arm to control Weidman’s right arm. Anderson also establishes a nice single collar tie with his right arm while keeping compact and tucking his face into Weidman’s left shoulder to prevent any damage from being taken.
After controlling the exchange with a left underhook and single right-hand collar tie, Anderson looks to advance to the plum position. This is after Chris attempts to crossface out of the clinch with his left arm.
Anderson advances to the double collar tie and successfully controls Weidman’s posture while looking to create another highlight reel KO with the plum.
Uh-oh. Anderson is unable to keep the plum compact without clearing Weidman’s left arm. Weidman’s left arm crossface defense actually keeps Anderson’s head in range and within range of the right hand. Anderson goes for a knee and at the same time, Weidman is able to throw the right hook exactly where the left arm has kept Anderson’s head in place.
Anderson eats the right hook, loses the position and hits the mat.
Johny Hendricks vs. Amir Sadollah
Amir gets in close to clinch and does well to control Johny’s left arm with his right.
Amir gives up control with his right to set up a plum position, leaving Johny’s left hand wide open (Johny is known to have knockout power in this hand, too).
Although Amir secures a double collar tie, he is unable to control Johny’s posture and unable to maintain his own as Johny pulls Amir’s head down into a left uppercut.
After eating several more uppercuts, Amir can’t keep his elbows tight in the plum he locked, allowing Johny’s left uppercut to continually slip through. To make matters worse, distance between the hips in the plum allows Johny the space to load up on the left upper cut.
Like a true captain and his ship, Sadollah refuses to abandon the plum, instead opting to go down while eating left uppercuts.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben
‘The Axe Murderer,’ no stranger to brawls, transitions eagerly into the clinch with Leben immediately after throwing bombs and haymakers.
Wanderlei immediately advances to the double collar tie but cannot close the distance nor control Leben in the position.
Wanderlei gives Leben too much space and distance to load up the left uppercut.
Much like in Sadollah in his fight featured above, Wanderlei can’t keep his elbows tight. This vulnerability allows Leben’s loaded left uppercut to slide right through.
Wanderlei eats another heavy sledgehammer on his way out.
Some of the Muay Thai clinching seen in mixed martial arts is merely a tip of the iceberg modified to suit the current condition.
There are many more technicalities involved and not every display of striking in the clinch is a masterful display of Muay Thai as certain MMA commentators will lead you to believe. In particular, it is true that having a successful tightly locked plum position usually ends up destroying its victims in the clinch in devastating fashion.
But just the opposite, with poor control, the technique can quickly leave fighters in an extremely vulnerable position.
- Daniel Nguyen is a packaging engineer who trains Muay Thai as a passionate hobby. With a smoker fight under his belt, his ultimate goal is to convince others to join in by conveying his passion for the sport and writing about his experiences.