I've been blogging away about the many cool submissions of Frank Mir's UFC career and I don't want to give the impression that I'm expecting big things from Frank Mir and overlooking his opponent: the dread Brock Lesnar.
Because of Lesnar's NCAA wrestling pedigree you'd probably expect a Judo Chop featuring him to focus on his takedowns or his top control. Nope.
It's his punching power, reach and technique that has really impressed me. When he landed the first punch against Heath Herring at UFC 87 and sent Herring hurtling across the Octagon ass-over-ears with a shattered orbital bone, the MMA world realized that Brock Lesnar had begun to channel his raw power into a very dangerous standing game.
Sadly, I couldn't find a still of Lesnar that shows that punch and had to settle for a lesser later punch that isn't as technically crisp.
Lesnar also used technically sound punching to beat Randy Couture at UFC 91. The really frightening thing about the shot he dropped Couture with is his sheer reach. Couture actually ducked to avoid the punch but Lesnar's arms are so freaking long that Couture actually ducked and came back up to get caught before Lesnar's punch was through unwinding. Its a testament to Lesnar's sheer athletic talent and his trainability that he has added some basic but very technically sound striking to his budding MMA game.
More geekery and animated gifs in the full entry.
The first thing that jumps out to me is the simple technique. When you're Lesnar's size you don't need to throw big winging punches, you just need to throw with technique and land and damage will be done. He generates the bulk of his power from his legs, in MMA you can get away with lunging a little bit more than straight boxing. Brock pushes off his right leg and shoots the right straight from the shoulder to Heath's chin with no wasted arm motion.
Defensively he also keeps his shoulder high on the punching side which blocks any sort of counter left hook. His left hand goes a little low but his size and the angle of his body makes a return right from Herring a low percentage response.
Also he circles away from Herring's "power side" by circling away after he throws. And if you watch his feet during the entire gif he is up on the balls of his feet the entire time, he's much less of a "flat footed" striker than some try to portray him as. Honestly it's scary to see how far along his striking is coming because technique plus raw power is a crazy combination.
It's different from other wrestlers like Koscheck who strike but don't have the pop or abandon simple technique. With Brock it's turning into a "I don't want to stand with him, I'm probably not going to be able to take him down, and I sure as hell don't want to be under him....what the hell do I do now?"
The gif on the left shows two angles on Lesnar's punch that dropped Randy Couture. Even though it was a very effective punch, its not as technically sound as the punch that rolled Herring. For one thing, his jab continues to be weak. It just kind of floats out there and then immediately drops like a rock, leaving him exposed to a right counter.
And as Luke Thomas pointed out to me, his stance is very wide and it looks like he's creeping forward as he throws the straight, which means he's off balance. But, as Randy Couture has attested, when you're combining the kind of reach and power that Lesnar is, even a less than polished strike can be the finishing shot.
Frank Mir has trained with the tallest boxers he can find to prepare for Lesnar's reach. We'll see how much that helps him.