Photo by Dave Mandel of Sherdog
Gegard Mousasi and "King" Mo Lawal are two of MMA's hottest prospects. Yet, for all their physical tools, I'm most impressed by their fight IQs. Listen to an interview with either fighter, and you can get a sense for their knowledge of the fight game.
It's getting down to the wire, but I finally figured out how to make animated GIFs. There's a good chance neither technique will be used in tonight's fight, but they give you a good sense of how these guys are able to adjust to their opponents. Coincidentally, each clip showcases its fighter in a position that will be disadvantageous tonight.
After the jump, I'll show you King Mo's counter left-right combo he used to knock down Mike Whitehead and Gegard Mousasi's push-pull sweep on Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou.
Lawal largely shut down Mike Whitehead for the duration of the bout. Whitehead started to find success with leg kicks, to the point that Frank Shamrock pointed it out in the broadcast.
Mo must have picked up on it too, because this sequence led to Whitehead's demise. Look at how quickly Mo starts to throw the left hook after Whitehead begins his kick. Before Whitehead's even finished planting his back foot, Mo's beginning to his counter attack. I'm not sure the left hand lands, but it doesn't matter - Mo follows it with a laser beam right hand that puts Whitehead's ass on the mat.
There's something else I find so brilliant with this clip. Because this came in the first round, we can safely assume that Mo picked up on Whitehead's tendencies during the fight and correctly gauged the proper response on his own.
I'm not sure of the exact name of this sweep (and, really, in jiu-jitsu, there's hardly ever an exact name). I was taught it as a push-pull sweep. The basic principle is very simple: You push on the hip while pulling on the knee causing your opponent to lose his balance.
You can't see it from this ankle, but Gegard is also grabbing the back of Sokoudjou's right angle to prevent him from pulling his leg out and reestablishing his base. In addition, with a gi on, one would normally grab the opponent's right sleeve with the right arm, and use that to help pull yourself on top of your opponent.
Sokoudjou's proven susceptible to a lot of basic grappling maneuvers, but the fact that Mousasi reversed a guy who has a pretty good base is very impressive.