clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cageside Clutch: Phil Davis' Open Scissors Leg Lock

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

<em>If you don't like looking at feet, it's too late to tell you to look away now</em>. Courtesy of <a href="" target="new"></a>
If you don't like looking at feet, it's too late to tell you to look away now. Courtesy of

Yes it's new feature time, and the plan is to ‘regularly' (ha!) look at moves from MMA and even Pro Wrestling and their effectiveness and usefulness in either environment.

First up we have Phil Davis, 2008 NCAA Div-1 Wrestling champ and top UFC prospect who takes on Tim Boetsch in a Light Heavyweight (205lbs) clash this Saturday at UFC 123 Rampage vs Machida in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

During his UFC debut against WEC veteran Brian Stann we saw a display of the top control that helped make Davis a National Wrestling champion who won more than 25% of his matches by pin fall.

Once Stann was taken down he would usually stay there as Davis used his years of experience on the mat to ride and control Stann coupled with some of your fairly standard passing skills found in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu while throwing in some brutal Ground'n'Pound including some really awesome knee strikes to the body.

However there was one moment in the fight right near the end of the final round where Davis from back control hooked one of Stann's legs and attempted to torque his leg. Blink and you would have missed it. I certainly did and wasn't even aware of it until Bloody Elbow's Kid Nate showed me the above photo.



Even UFC's cameras nearly miss it with both Davis and Stann's legs lightly out of shot.

So what exactly is it? Possibly a bit of improvisation from Davis, and certainly not anything that can be legally used in Folkstyle or Freestyle wrestling but interestingly a position used by amateur wrestling's grandfather, Catch wrestling and in particular the American Carnival Wrestlers.

Various types of Scissor moves have existed in Catch Wrestling and Pro Wrestling for centuries. Your Bottom Body Scissors is what is more commonly known as the Guard position today, a Short-Arm scissors is a Bicep Slicer and a Hook Scissors is a Body Triangle from the back. Joe Stecher, a World Champion in Wrestling during the 1920's and 1930's and a long time rival of Ed "Strangler" Lewis was famed for his body scissors and legend has it he practiced the hold by bursting sacks of grain. It wasn't long until the move became banned in competition, first in Europe and then in the Americas due to the number of broken ribs it caused as well as the clean up of wrestling for Olympic tournaments and subsequently the School and College programs.

One of the lesser known types of scissors was the Open Scissors from the back where you could double hook the opponent's far leg and cause it to twist cranking the hip as well as possibly the knee.

In the following gifs you can see how it can be applied to get a tap, and as a re-counter to someone trying to escape a body scissors with half-nelson by bridging back.

It's probably best if I put a disclaimer saying not to try this without the supervision of a qualified grappling coach, so if you've read this far here it is. For informational purposes only:


1)      The opponent counters the half-nelson body scissors by sliding and bridging back to alleviate pressure. This is a correct response to the move.

2)      To counter this the attacker slides his bottom leg first to hook the opponent's far bridging leg and bring it in. You use your bottom leg first to do this as it's easy to miss or lose control using the top leg (Davis appeared to try his top leg first  against Stann which is one of the reasons he lost the leg).






3) To finish you need to rotate yourself so you are perpendicular (90 degrees) with the opponent. This is so you have the leverage to put enough pressure to coax a tap out. Phil Davis actually put his upper body on the other side to trap Stann's head but in doing so was at a mechanical disadvantage and would have been using just quadriceps muscles to try and bring Stann's leg up. You can see in the gif the hips and back are used plus there is space to move.


So, how successful could this be used in MMA? It's difficult to say as I've not practiced it myself and you just don't see this move being used. The lack of controlling the upper body might be a concern but the leg manipulation at the least takes away his power to drive off the mat and turn. I'll certainly be interested to see if it can be done in a competitive environment, and maybe if Phil's reading this he could try again against Tim Boetsch. Although the more likely scenario is Davis and his team already have a gameplan, and they're going to stick to it to get the win on Saturday.


These gifs were taken and edited from video found on an internet video site external to and not associated with Cageside Seats. The video is from "The Complete Grappler" by Mark Hatmaker, available through Paladin Press. All images used under Fair Use.


Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats