With tonight's final WEC upon us, I thought we should commemorate some of the great MMA technique we've seen applied in the WEC cage.
The WEC might not have been a business success, but it's certainly been a win for fans of high quality technical mma. We would never pretend to have documented more than a tiny fraction of the best displays of skill put on by the promotion in the past couple of years but what we've got is a fun and impressive greatest hits collection.
These are in reverse-chronological order from newest to oldest, kind of like a blog:
- Anthony Pettis Unleashes the Aú Batido
- Dominick Cruz Uses Counters and Combinations
- Flying Knees and Triangles with Jose Aldo and Seth Dikun
- Peek a Boo and Pinning the Clinch with Miguel Torres
- Getting Inside With Takeya Mizugaki
- Judo Techniques Making the Difference in Fights
Two of the fighters featured above will be fighting tonight: Anthony Pettis and Dominick Cruz, both in title fights.
That last one has a special place in my heart. Not only is it about Carlos Condit vs Hiromitsu Miura from WEC 35 -- to this day my personal favorite ever WEC bout -- but it was the proto-Judo Chop that started this whole crazy series. It's a pretty rough draft to say the least.
On the left we see the first of two capoeira kicks that Pettis threw late in the first round. The second one is captured in Tracy Lee's spectacular photograph at the top. This one landed much more cleanly though he doesn't actually put his hand on the ground in this instance.
Here we see Roller lunge forward behind a jab that Pettis slips by moving to his left but then he continues to torque his body down and to the left and brings his right leg up high for a beautiful Martelo kick. Note how his shin and instep crash down onto Roller's head, shoulders and neck.
Here's a description of the Martelo from wikipedia:
A Martelo is a type of kick as practiced in Capoeira. The martelo, which literally means "hammer" can be described as a roundhouse kick. In generic terms, it is a strike with the instep, the lower part of the shin, or the shin itself, against the opponent's body; the most common being the temple of the head.
To my knowledge, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai landed the first flying knee KO in modern mma history (thanks Leland!) against Ademir Oliveira back in Shooto - Devilock Fighters in Jan of 1999. It should be noted that Mach's flying knee was a leaping knee from within the clinch rather than a start of the fight run across the cage and go for broke flying knee ala Aldo. Gilbert Yvel and Yuki Kondo were other early pioneers of the move.
Up first we've got Jose Aldo charging into a ducking Cub Swanson and catching him with a left knee to the face. Note the fake kick - stutter step that Aldo does at the start of the sequence -- he's faking a left kick to bait Swanson into shooting for a takedown. Once he sees that Cub has taken the bait, he quick steps with his right foot and launches himself into the air.
The impact is brutal because Swanson is not just stepping into the knee, he's diving face first into the knee with both feet anchored on the ground. Aldo for his part is launching his body into the air with his right leg and also raising his left knee independently of the leap. It's like quadruple kinetic impact on Cub's face.
In the gif on the left, Mizugaki ducks a jab from Torres, steps in, throws a left-right combo to the body then moves upstairs to throw a four punch combo. Again, not every shot lands, but at least two of the shots (a left hook to the body and a right hook to the head) land cleanly and Torres is forced to duck and cover and bounce into the fence.
Slipping a lead punch, driving in and firing off rapid unanswered combinations is the essence of good boxing technique. What Mizugaki was doing in this fight is several steps beyond the boxing we usually see in MMA. Unfortunately for Mizugaki, Torres had the answers.
We'll discuss that in my next Judo Chop.
And here's from the sequel, Peek a Boo and Pinning the Clinch with Miguel Torres
The gif on the right shows just what good peek-a-boo boxing skills can do for a fighter. Mizugaki came in behind a lazy Torres jab and fires off a ten punch combination inside. Backing up, Torres makes every punch miss by moving his head and upper body. I can't remember when I've seen this kind of evasive movement from an MMA fighter. Torres' defense on the inside put a big crimp in Mizugaki's game plan.