The Thai Clinch falls directly between grappling and fighting. Some fighters refer to it as “Standup” while others refer to it as “Grappling”. Whatever the proper label may be, knowing that you should understand the MMA strategies behind clinching. Since this position is very common in MMA, learning them can only make you a better-rounded fighter.

Basic Thai Clinch Positions and Holds

Some of the more common and effective clinch holds that you can perform come from Western Boxing, Muay Thai, and even wrestling. These are dozens and dozens of variations of each hold, but these basic three should provide you with a nice and solid fundamental understanding of the position. Let’s take a look at how you can utilize better MMA strategies for dominating the clinch position.


The Muay Thai clinch is one of the most effective and thoroughly tested techniques that you can apply when clinching. It is a powerful weapon that you should definitely place into your close range arsenal. To perform this technique, start by grabbing the back of your opponent’s neck and leaning against them with your forearms. Your clasp should be extremely tight, so that you can almost touch your elbows together. Do not interlace your fingers. Instead, MMA strategies suggest that you keep one hand over the other, which will provide you with the opportunity to transition to something else quickly. From here, you can perform a number of takedowns and elbow/knee combinations that are very effective.

Defending Against a Clinch Attempt

One of the easiest ways to prevent yourself from being clinched is to keep your head and neck stiff. If you can reduce your opponent’s ability to control your head then you will be less likely to get clinched by them. Remember that a lot of good standup fighters will use the clinch position to gain leverage over you and throw more elbows and knee strikes- something that you don’t want.

Covering against Knee and Elbow Strikes While in the Clinch A great way to prevent your opponent from landing their elbow and knee strikes when in the clinch is to develop a “6th sense” for when they are coming. And the only way to do this is to consistently train in this position. But as a general rule of thumb, use your hands and forearms to block oncoming knee strikes while using your elbows to block body strikes. Once you master the defensive side of the clinch, you will automatically find more opportunities to strike yourself when in these situations. Overall, these MMA strategies are something that you won’t want to overlook. Clinching is an essential part of your game, one that will transition to takedowns and strikes that will be quite devastating to your opponent.