UFC 143 Judo Chop: The Striking And Grappling Technique Of Nick Diaz

Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.

Nick Diaz fights Carlos Condit at UFC 143 on Saturday for the UFC interim welterweight championship. Diaz is a favorite here at the Bloody Elbow Judo Chop headquarters both for his very technical Jiu-Jitsu and also for his unique "pitter shatter" approach to boxing for MMA.

Heading into UFC 143 we wanted to refresh everyone's appreciation for Diaz' technical acumen with a review of our past Judo Chops on the fighter. Enjoy these previous Judo Chops:

I also wanted to highlight this comment from John Nash (formerly nottheface) regarding the provenance of Diaz' unusual approach to boxing in MMA:
Diaz' style of boxing resembls some of the techniques used in old London Prizefighting ("bareknuckle") matches. Now I doubt he and Gracie went out and studied old Jem Mace fights but because grappling played a part in those fights (clinching and throwing your opponent to the ground was a big part of the game, and many fighters depended more on a good wrestling game than their striking ability. If one looks at Ed James's 1878 The Science of Boxing half the techniques shown are headlocks, throws, and trips.) and Diaz doesn't have thunderous power they have stumbled into a style for him that greatly resembles the proven techniques of yore.

And don't miss John Nash's brilliant Nick Diaz, Daniel Mendoza, and the Sweet Science of Bruising which compares Diaz striking to the pre-Marquis of Queensbury rules boxer whose style most resembled Diaz. It's really spectacular.

More from John Nash plus a bunch of animated gifs in the full entry.

SBN coverage of UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit

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On the right is a nice gif that illustrates Diaz' approach to MMA striking in his October 2010 rematch with K.J. Noons. Note how Diaz rarely commits more force than necessary to his punches, generally throwing from the shoulders, but sometimes just throwing arm punches.

The important thing in Diaz' approach is volume, volume, volume. He pitters, batters and plain wears down his opponents with a variety of low energy punches from a number of different angles.

More from John Nash:

Jean Joseph-Renaud an amazing pioneer in martial arts and specifically Defense Dans La Rue at the beginning of the 20th century described what bareknuckle fighting entailed.

Formerly, in England, when fights took place without gloves, they lasted immensely longer. While the combatants employed wrestling techniques and threw each other to the ground with great force, perhaps five or six times each quarter of an hour, they were still at least as vigorous of those of today. They ought to have finished very quickly and yet their fights always lasted a long time; they most commonly ended because one of the adversaries was exhausted rather than beaten.

Prizefighters fought this way because they didn't have gloves to protect their hands and because the rules allowed for grappling and throwing each other to the ground, often incorporating Devonshire, Cumberland, and Westmorland style wrestling. A new round started any time a fighter was knocked down and went to his knee, he was then given a 30-count to get back up and begin again. Because there is a time limit in mma Diaz has sped up the pace.

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Joseph-Renaud also described a type of fighter who stood outside and threw straights but without all his power so as to not to break his hand (even describing one type of punch as a "slap" and considering it effective), unlike the in-fighting that glove boxing developed. This slap fighter wouldn't lung so at to leave himself open to be grappled and would throw repetitive straights from the outside to the head and, more importantly, the body of his opponent. The goal with this style of scientific boxing was to wear down your opponent until they collapsed from cumulative damage and exhaustion. Sound familiar?

...
And while I think Diaz fights a lot like Michael Nunn - and perhaps based his style on the same sources as Nunn - the modifications they've made to make it work in MMA have resulted in something that resembles something from old prizefighting: less upper body movement, less slipping and ducking, less lunging from the outside, less dancing. All the stuff that Nunn uses but could put you in a bad spot where grappling is allowed as it is in MMA - and London Prizefighting.

The following is some analysis from The Unconventional MMA Boxing of Nick Diaz:

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On the right we've got the penultimate moments of Nick's 2009 early retirement party for Frank Shamrock. Note the way he sticks his left hand in Shamrock's face to bait Frank into putting up his guard. Once the ribs are unprotected Diaz actually winds up and unloads a vicious right hook to Shamrock's ribs.

Here's MMA Fighting talking about the CompuStrike record that Diaz set in that round:

Nick Diaz spent three minutes and 57 seconds swarming Frank Shamrock in the second round of their fight Saturday night before referee Big John McCarthy finally stopped it. If you watched the fight, you know that already. But you might not know that Diaz had what may have been the most active round in the history of MMA.

CompuStrike, which tabulates statistics from MMA fights, says that Diaz attempted 181 strikes in the second round, making it the most total strikes thrown in any round that CompuStrike has recorded. The previous record was held by Michael Bisping, who threw 141 strikes in the first round of his UFC 70 fight with Elvis Sinosic. Diaz breaking that record is even more impressive when you remember that Bisping didn't finish Sinosic in the first round, meaning he had a full five minutes to throw 141 strikes. Diaz shattered the record in less than four.

Of course, Diaz has never been the most accurate or powerful of punchers, and he only landed 79 of those 181 strikes. So Bisping still owns the record for strikes landed in a round.

And here's a little taste of his grappling acumen from Nick Diaz's Ground Game by Ben Thapa:

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Gif via Grappo

In this gif, we see Diaz in a position where he could move into side control, as Shamrock’s left side is relatively undefended. However, Nick chooses to move his left knee to pin down Shamrock’s right thigh, while maintaining the underhook on Shamrock’s left arm/allowing Shamrock to keep the overhook. The resulting position contorts Shamrock into an awkward position where his head is twisting in the opposite direction from his legs and Nick’s good top pressure allows him to stay there. As the gif shows, Nick takes the opportunity to punch Frank a few times in the head before Frank later regains guard (not show in the gif).

Here's hoping we get to see more of Diaz great standing and ground technique against Condit who should be a stern test for the ex-Srikeforce champ in all ranges of fighting.

I also recommend gzl5000's series on How To OutStrike Nick Diaz Part 1 Part 2, Part 3 and Nick Diaz A Boxing Breakdown.

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