UFC on Fox 4 was a good show for Lyoto Machida. Not only did The Dragon defeat Ryan Bader in the co-main event, he also defeated Shogun Rua in Dana White's race to turn in the "most impressive" win, claiming #1 contender status and a shot at the Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson winner along the way. And he scored both of those wins with a single move - a beautiful counter right hand KO that put Bader down and out. Impressive indeed.
In this Bloody Elbow Judo Chop, we'll take a look at Machida's KO of Bader to see just why it worked so well. There are two key elements to examine in this KO:
- How Machida sets up the KO with defense
- Bader's failure to properly execute his own defense
Let's start with what Machida does right, and that discussion focuses on defense. The KO punch he throws is a counter to Bader coming in with his own attack. When Bader comes in, he throws a "1-2" combo, meaning a left jab followed by a right cross. Machida expertly evades both. First, he simply steps back to avoid the jab, taking a small step to get out of range. This small step is key, as he avoids Bader's left, but keeps himself close enough to return fire.
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But the real beauty in Machida's defense comes against Bader's right cross. As Bader throws the right, Machida brings his left forearm up to catch Bader's punch, preventing it from getting inside. Notice how Lyoto also moves his left arm up as he catches Bader's punch. By bringing the arm up, he is deflecting the force of the punch upwards, further protecting himself. Simply catching the punch straight on the forearm could cause more damage to Machida's own arm, and, if the punch is thrown with enough force, could still push the forearm into Machida's head. None of that happens because Bader's power has been pushed up.
Much more, including video of the KO, after the jump.
With this block, Machida is using the same principle's behind the karate block known as the age uke:
Like Machida's block, the age uke is designed to deflect the blow upwards. The key difference here is that Lyoto keeps his blocking arm vertical instead of turning it more horizontal as done in the traditional age uke. This makes it a harder block to utilize, but also leaves Machida in a better position to counter after the block. And that's exactly what he does. As soon as Bader's right punch is blocked, Machida comes in with a right hand of his own, ending Bader's night.
And that brings us to point #2 - Bader's defense, which I discussed last week in a Judo Chop. There, I looked specifically at how Tito Ortiz was able to catch Bader in their fight last year, where I had this to say:
To most effectively block punches coming from your opponent's right hand power side (assuming you are both in orthodox stance), you need to use your left arm to block the left side of your head. The left hand should stay close to the chin throughout the fight, and when blocking, the elbow should come up and the fist move back by your ear so that you almost look like you are talking on the phone. This is a good position to use when throwing a punch with your own right hand (to block any potential counter), or when your opponent is moving in with his own attack.
Against Ortiz, Bader is frequently lazy with his left hand, often letting it drop down.
Last night, Bader made the exact same mistake in this finishing sequence. After lazily throwing the left jab, Bader leaves his left dangling low instead of snapping it back up to block a counter right. Machida is a superb counter-striker, and once Bader leaves that opening, he takes it. What's unfortunate about this is that Bader really should have seen it coming. Again, from my Judo Chop last week:
This lack of defense is a definite concern, as it's a fundamental part of the striking game. Previously, Bader relied on his chin and power to get past this hole, but Ortiz showed that you can only use those fixes for so long before you get caught. This Saturday, against a far superior technical striker in Lyoto Machida, Bader will need to have sealed those holes shut and keep that left hand glued to his head. If he lets himself get lazy with it again, the results will be the same and Lyoto Machida will be the one eyeing another crack at the UFC Light Heavyweight title.
Bader failed to address this issue, continued to keep that left hand low, and paid the price. If he hopes to remain in the upper echelon of the Light Heavyweight division, he's going to need to work on that defense.
One final note on Bader's defense - in the clip below, in the final angle, you can clearly see that as Bader charges in he actually closes his eyes. There's not really much to say about that except that it's a terrible idea and another one of those things that he must fix.
Neither Jon Jones nor Dan Henderson will make those same kind of glaring defensive mistakes when Machida tries to regain his title. But if The Dragon can use the same superb defense and counter ability he showed last night, it's entirely possible we'll see the same result, only this time, with a lot more on the line.
Video of the fight ending KO is below. Again, keep your eyes on Machida's left hand for the block, and Bader's left hand for the way it does not get into position after the jab.