In this new feature to Bloody Elbow's Judo Chop I will be attempting to examine some of my favourite finishes in MMA, kickboxing and perhaps even boxing. I hope that in the process I might show readers some fights, fighters and techniques that they hadn't noticed or appreciated before. These won't be long posts, but rather a video of the fight followed by a short technical breakdown. So without any further delay, I'll begin this hopefully regular segment with a fairly recent fight from the K-1 2010 Grand Prix; Alistair Overeem vs. Peter Aerts.
Stuff you should know about the context of this fight:
- This fight was at the end of a grueling tournament. Both men had fought twice already on the same night.
- Aerts had finished Mighty Mo in a few minutes, then beaten tournament favourite, Semmy Schilt in a back and forth war. Overeem had decisioned the fast and technical Tyrone Spong, then knocked out his badly injured team-mate Gohkan Saki.
- This was the last K-1 Grand Prix.
Note: I was forced to choose between the English commentary and HD video. As much of a fan of Michael Schiavello as I am, I opted for the HD video. This is largely so that you can see the footwork of Overeem, and so that you don't have to suffer K-1's baffling decision to have King Mo as a guest commentator. Those of you who saw it the first time around will probably thank me.
Alistair Overeem vs Peter Aerts HD (via WorldWideMMAFighting)
Overeem's gameplan was uncharacteristically aggressive in this bout. Where he normally walks his opponents down behind a high guard, in this bout he begins charging Aerts from the opening seconds. This was likely due to Overeem's second fight being a very easy affair, ending in a few minutes, while Aerts was forced to fight the full distance against Semmy Schilt. While both competitors were given some time to recover, many of Peter's injuries would take longer than an hour to heal, where Overeem was largely unmarked and not fatigued.
While the story of Alistair Overeem's striking career has been his left knee and his right hook, his aggressive tactics in this bout called for a different set up. Overeem usually walks his opponent down and if they are aggressive he counters over the top with his right hook in a "Cross Counter" (as he did with Ben Edwards), and if they are passive he smothers their hands and connects the left knee (as with Brock Lesnar in the UFC). Against Aerts, Overeem needed to move in quickly, rather than behind his guard and so continued to look for a stepping punch.
Overeem's best offense can be done when his right foot is outside of his opponent's left (assuming both are orthodox). This is where he can step into the left knee, or turn his hips inward and land the right hook. From the opening moments of the fight you will notice that Overeem repeatedly attempted to "cheat punch" - entering with a left punch while stepping the right foot forward and outside of Aert's lead foot.
In the final moments of this gif you will notice that Overeem backs Aerts onto the ropes and throws a left hook as he steps in with his right leg. The gif cuts off the wonderful right uppercut which Overeem landed immediately after this cheat punch, but watching the video again you can appreciate how Overeem had been using pressure to move himself into the position he wanted, slightly to the Aerts' side, against the ropes.
The next few seconds of the bout are where everything happens. Aerts gets off the ropes and Overeem chases him to the centre of the ring. Overeem steps in with his cheat punch, trying to place his right foot outside of Aert's so he can drive in with the right hand again, but Aerts tags him as he comes in. Alistair re-assesses and switches to southpaw. He begins to hand fight with Aerts but Aerts steps forward rather than letting Overeem throw his left roundhouse kick (as Overeem almost always does when he switches stance). As Alistair switches back to orthodox, Aerts jabs at him and Overeem is afforded the opportunity to land his Cross Counter - a right hook over the top of Aert's jab. This stuns Aerts and sets up the finish.
The finish then comes swiftly and brutally. Overeem senses Aerts go defensive and he hits him with a hard body knee. From here Overeem connects a low kick, then steps in with a flurry. Notice when Overeem attacks with his left hand, he is often stepping his right foot out to his right. This adds power to his punch - as his weight is in motion rather than just turning on the spot - and positions him better for his right hook. You will notice the angle that Overeem takes to score his right hooks in this flurry, with his right foot outside of Aert's left foot, Overeem's right hooks come in from almost behind Aerts, making them impossible to fully block by simply covering up.
Alistair Overeem's left knee strike, cheat punch and Cross Counter are all covered in detail in Jack Slack's ebook, Advanced Striking.