One of the most difficult pieces in a mixed martial artist's skill-set to improve has always been the striking element. In boxing, there is a certain amount of sacrifice that a fighter is willing to take in order to land strikes, but in mixed martial arts -- being countered by an opponent wearing six-ounce gloves isn't as forgiving. Because of those differences, defensive abilities in the stand-up department have become a major focal point for every fighter in MMA. The mastery of those abilities can lead to a solid base that has the potential to gain an impressive array of offensive weapons, and many of the members of Team Rough House displayed those techniques at UFC 105.
The most impressive performance came from Team Rough House's most recognizable veteran in Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy. His surgical counter striking against fleet-handed Mike "Quick" Swick was one of the better performances we saw throughout the evening. Each landed counter left hook devastated the American Kickboxing Academy team member, putting him into a wobbly walk while he tried to escape the oncoming onslaught from Hardy.
As I mentioned in the preview for the Hardy-Swick showdown, countering Swick's attempts by slipping counter punches down the pipe as Swick attacked was the key for success, but Hardy's power is surprising for throwing looping hooks and straight jabs while backpedaling to counter. He clipped Swick on multiple occasions, and Swick was instantly put into a daze from almost every land.
Hardy wasn't the only member of Team Rough House that had an impressive evening. Andre Winner showed immense knockout power by downing BJJ submission fighter Roli Delgado, Nick Osipczak easily dominated the very one-dimensional Matthew Riddle, and Ross Pearson, who trained with Team Rough House extensively for this bout, crushed Aaron Riley with straight jabs and Muay Thai knees on his way to victory. The various aspects of the Team Rough House philosophy to striking were all evident in these bouts
The most noteworthy part about the performances from Team Rough House was their striking prowess. Each fighter was technically sound defensively with their stances with the exception on Andre Winner. Hardy and Pearson both kept their hands high near their chins to protect themselves from attacks, but both men were also able to create opportunities to hurt their opponents with quick, straight blows. Winner, on the other hand, showed more of a cocky attitude by dropping his hands and looking generally bored with defending Delgado's jabs.
While praising a stance doesn't seem like a worthy topic of discussion, we need to remember that many of the fighters in the UFC have a tendency to completely lose the ability to defend strikes as fights progress, something that we could probably attribute to conditioning. Fortunately for Hardy, it's been a part of his skill-set throughout his career.
We won't be short of Team Rough House's striking prowess any time soon. By far, their most powerful and accurate striker is Paul "Semtex" Daley, and he's already rumored to potentially be taking on Carlos Condit in the near future. He'll be another fighter who will keep his hands high and throw short, quick bombs on his opponent's chin unless his ground game is exposed. For the most part, the upper-level of Team Rough House has inabilities in the ground game, but can opponents expose those pieces of their game before being punched into unconsciousness? It makes for some exciting future bouts.