While Manny Machado threw his punch just fine in his encounter with Yordano Ventura, it seems he needs a crash course in takedown defense. Let's take a look at some of the critical mistakes in his defense of Ventura's takedown that all but ended the fight in last night's Royals-Orioles game after one punch. (All screengrabs will come from either the official Orioles or Royals telecasts, and the MLB.com video of the fight.).
When we first join the donnybrook already in action after Machado has rushed the mound with clear intentions, we see both combatants in traditional boxing stances. I shall offer no opinion of their stances, as my forte is wrestling, not boxing, but we see Ventura ready to backpedal to turn his hips to avoid standing directly in front of Machado, who's already ready to throw hands and proceeds to land one good punch to Ventura's face.
Machado's thinking punching, not grappling, but Ventura's already thinking he wants no part of trading punches with Machado. Oddly enough, probably the best thing to happen to Ventura was tripping on his own glove...
which actually led to him being in perfect position to execute a double-leg takedown on Machado.
It's actually pretty good. He managed to lower his hip level below that of Machado and wrapped his arms around Machado's knees, preventing Machado from defending the takedown attempt. Here's an example of what a double-leg takedown looks like when executed in freestyle and folkstyle wrestling.
Notice the knee wrap Ventura made. It stops Machado's rather feeble attempt at stopping the takedown and all but eliminates all of Machado's other options for defense.
Ventura has successfully dropped his hips, is driving with his back foot, has stepped up with his same-side foot, and has planted his head firmly against the side of Machado's leg, which in high school and college would reduce the effectiveness of a crossface (which I'm sure Machado has never seen and wouldn't know to use) which gives him a lever point to direct Machado to the ground by using his head.
Machado made a critical mistake in the exchange that led to him being dumped on his butt. He grabbed toward Ventura's head (whether he was going for a guillotine choke or a DDT remains to be determined), then made the unpardonable sin of reaching over Ventura's body, leaving him completely exposed to Ventura's double-leg shot.
Had this been a JV wrestling tournament, at this point I'd be screaming until I lost my voice. In the image above, you can see his right arm draped over the side of Ventura, and his left arm draped over Ventura's back. As soon as Ventura got his hands on Machado's legs, Machado's hands became useless. But they didn't have to.
What should have Machado done? In a word, sprawl. One of the first things a wrestling coach teaches novices is the double leg takedown, and immediately afterward, the sprawl to defend it. Six-year-olds (and high school freshmen) across the nation learn the sprawl as their first takedown defense every winter.
Machado should have done a few things to execute the sprawl defense. First, he should have put his hand (ideally his right hand, the same side as Ventura was on) and place it on the back of Ventura's head and shove his face into the mat, um, turf.
At the same time, Machado should have thrown his feet straight back, and turn his hips to the far side. He could have also used an overhook on the far side (his left) to pressure Ventura's shoulder to get Ventura to collapse down on that side. Here's an example.
Instead, he ended up on his butt, and the fight was pretty much over after just one punch. Learn some takedown defense, Manny, and you might get to throw more than one punch next time.
-Bill Duck is a former wrestling head coach for Wicomico High School in Salisbury, MD, has helped coach three MD 1A2A HS state champs and more than a dozen state place-winners, and has helped run the 1A2A MPSSAA State Championship for the past five years. He was awarded the MPSSAA Service to Wrestling Award in 2013.