It's been a long time since we had a browser crasher on Bloody Elbow. I'm hoping to make this GIFathon a regular feature for every FOX and UFC PPV card, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. The theme of this GIFathon is to take a look at some of the notable fighters competing at UFC on FOX 6, and highlight their pre-UFC careers with some of their best fights and/or finishes. Originally, the plan was to do one GIF for each main card fighter, but it is close to impossible to find any early videos of Donald Cerrone, Demetrious Johnson, Ricardo Lamas, etc. I've since retooled it to mix in main card guys with prominent prelim fighters, and the results are perfect.
Zombie Prophet has provided five great GIFs, and Dallas Winston chipped in with his comments on each one. The fighters featured today are:
- Rampage Jackson's brief venture into K-1.
- Glover Teixeira's pre-Zuffa WEC fight with Sokoudjou.
- Clay Guida and Hatsu Hioki smacking down some sweet submissions.
- Anthony Pettis and his rise to "Showtime" mode.
Glover Teixeira vs. Sokoudjou (WEC 24, 2006)
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou exploded onto the scene in Pride FC with back to back, monumental upset knockouts over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. When dazzled fans researched the seemingly invincible breakout star's fight record, the name Glover Teixeira jumped off the page for having flattened the Cameroonian nightmare by 1st-round KO immediately prior to Sokoudjou's Pride premiere.
Whether or not you're buying into the hype, Teixeira is a special fighter: he has a tighter and more polished version of Chuck Liddell's boxing (his friend, training partner and mentor) but retains a Chute-Boxe-esque level of overwhelming ferocity, with outstanding submission grappling accolades to boot.
The sequence above shows Teixeira merely biding his time to ignite a few tight, scorching counters through Sokoudjou's defense while he's amidst his leading combination. While the finish is anchored by Teixeira's aggression and killer instinct, note how, on the initial counter-punching flurry, his defense is sound, his punches are admirably straight and long, and he whips his head off-center while throwing his right cross.
The only time he breaks his alternating left-hand/right-hand rhythm (usually 1-2-3's) is when he doubles up on his left hook for a classic 1-2-3-3 medley, the last of which tags Sokoudjou and triggers the finish. As Teixeira swarms and gets into phone-booth range, watch the position of his elbows: he begins with a more upright and defensive stance while launching straighter distance strikes, and, if you were looking at him from the side, his elbows would barely go behind the vertical center-line of his body, towards his back. Smelling blood, Teixeira switches into kill mode and starts torquing out some serious power, and the pattern of his elbows shows a drop in level, as he plants his feet harder and starts sailing hooks around Sokoudjou's guard, and his elbows start crossing the center line of his back, indicating the massive hip rotation he's putting into each shot.
It's a subtle detail, but it does show that Teixeira knows exactly when to play it safer with prodding shots and strong defense while seeking an opening, how to read his opponent and intelligently form a strategic counter, and then how and when to pounce on that opening with a primal salvo.
Quinton Jackson vs. Cyril Abidi (K-1, 2002)
Cyril Abidi isn't what most would consider a highly reputable win for Rampage in a pure striking match, but Abidi did come on strong by notching back-to-back, 1st-round strike stoppages over Peter Aerts followed by a 2nd-round TKO of Ray Sefo.
My personal opinion on the scattered success of MMA fighters in K-1 is the essence of raw brutality. In MMA, we often see "finesse fighters" paired with rugged brawlers, and MMA fighters crossing over to kickboxing fall into the latter category by default. Alistair Overeem, the best known dual-sport juggernaut who won the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix, embodies this type of primal voracity: he didn't achieve that honor by being more technical or having better fundamentals, but by proving that anyone will fall over if you smack them in the face hard enough.
Wins by Tatsuya Kawajiri, Gegard Mousasi and even Gary Goodridge justify that reasoning as well. The MMA clique was perfectly willing to absorb a handful of artful and picture-perfect strikes in order to shrink the gap and unload monstrous power at close range.
And that's just what Rampage does in the image above. Much like Teixeira in the first gif, which is why their match up is so intriguing, Rampage flicks out a long, straight punch from the fringe to set up his advancement into the pocket, then, once he has Abidi trapped on the ropes and unable to load up on effective counters, he lowers his guard and starts throwing heaters "from his pockets" with no fear of return fire.
Anthony Pettis vs. Mike Lambrecht (2008)
Two things stand out from this Anthony Pettis clip: how asinine it is to make the blanket statement that a fighter moving forward and, by Webster's definition instead of the unified rules, being "more aggressive" is winning because he's "pushing the pace and dictating the action." The second is something Joe Rogan always astutely mentions, which is when a fighter unlatches a sizzling high kick with absolutely no forewarning in his stance or footwork.
During a recent event, Rogan explained how the Thai-style of roundhouse kicks are geared entirely toward power and damage: significant pivoting and hip torque is involved, which requires a bit more set-up and is therefore easier for the defender to detect, and the shin-contact requires a closer proximity. There's a tradeoff with everything, and the more traditional style of karate or Taekwondo kick that Pettis uncorks is generally quicker and travels a longer distance, though power and velocity are somewhat compromised.
Since Pettis' opponent is barging into his wheelhouse recklessly, he solves the distance issue for him, and Pettis is still able to make contact with the shin on a rapidly released high kick, which means his intelligence, timing and strike selection gives him the best of both worlds.
Clay Guida vs. Jay Estrada (2005)
I often use the term "gimme subs" to describe the catches that a dominant wrestler can employ to finish without considerable experience in the art of submissions. Many transpire with neck chokes from the front headlock: the D'arce/Brabo and Anaconda are lucrative options, but the guillotine is the most popular from the front headlock position. The classic example, however, is the rear-naked choke.
Attaining even a basic semblance of submission grappling can drastically increase a wrestler's finishing prowess. The ability to transition to the former list of headlock chokes are self-explanatory, but the rear-naked choke is commonly applied by scoring a takedown, thundering down some meaningful ground-and-pound (ideally from full mount or after passing guard to some degree) and then cinching in the choke when the opponent gives up his back by turning away from the downpour of punishment.
For as tenacious as wrestlers are with top control, Clay Guida being no exception, they are utterly devastating when they can apply those frenetic top-side skills on their opponent's back. Guida, whether showing rudimentary skills or just unable to get both hooks in because of the angle, is able to finish here with only one hook in by adjusting for the angles of his opponent's scrambles and simply persisting with the attempt.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Hideki Kadowaki (Shooto 10, 2005)
Great grapplers can display innovative and high-tech fundamentals regularly, but their outrageous command of the basics might be their most formidable weapon. Hatsu Hioki might be the best featherweight grappler and has definitely rolled out some highlight-reel transitions, but the animation above is pure dominance with ground-floor BJJ.
Hioki has the rare and under-rated ability to hit powerful and precise angles using nothing but his obscene core strength. I mentioned this in a past Dissection when Hioki locked up a triangle off his back and smoothly swept his opponent into full mount through the insane leverage he generates from his lanky frame and his hips and core. The key to Hioki finishing this armbar is, after he peels his opponent's leg off his head, using his own leg position to flatten his opponent's head on the canvas ("where the head goes, the body follows"), thus limiting his opponent's balance, mobility and escape options. In plain terms, he just plasters him flat to the canvas to have his way with him.
The philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu boils down to applying your conjoined strengths to your adversary's finite weakness, and a few examples are found in this clip: once Hioki pins the head and controls with a heavy base, he sits up and enjoys an easy "two-on-one" hand-fight to break the defensive grip; meaning he's in a dominant position and using both hands to wrench away a single of his opponent's. Once the grip is broken, the finish is then Hioki applying every ounce of leverage from his stretched out frame -- starting from the downward force he's applying with his legs and ending with the trapped wrist he tucks under his chin while using his pelvis as a fulcrum -- directly onto the elbow joint to elicit the tap.
Thanks to Dallas and ZP for all of their hard work, and this feature will return next week for UFC 156. If you have fight suggestions that you'd like to see on the next edition, list them in the comments. Please note that we cannot post any fights from PRIDE, UFC, Strikeforce, or Zuffa-era WEC. Everything else should be fair game.