UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Till (also known as UFC Fight Night 118) took place this past weekend, and this is a great opportunity for us to examine the most effective moves our favorite fighters employed in order to dominate their opponents.
This series is more about substance than spectacle and focuses on competition tested techniques which can be used by trainers and athletes alike in order to raise their technical level. Even in losing efforts, fighters often have the opportunity to showcase their skills, so knockout or submission highlights do not always tell the full story.
The following analysis can also help fans appreciate diverse approaches to the fighting game and enjoy fights more by identifying probable moves and what each fighter brings to the table.
This card was a good opportunity to help readers refresh some fundamental moves. That being said let’s start analyzing...
Fight: Oskar Piechota vs. Jonathan Wilson
This is a a basic counter for a straight right to the body. Piechota attacks and Wilson crouches a bit while using his left elbow to partially attack/block the incoming punch. To finish the move he attacks with a straight left hand. In order to use this counter correctly you have to block and counterattack with a “single breath” as they often say in Japanese budo, meaning that you must catch your opponent as if you are using a single move before he is able to get away.
Here is another example of this same technique. Although Wilson fails to block the punch he is still able to catch Piechota with the counter punch.
I teach this counter during mittwork and often my wrist gets hurt from my student’s elbow. Using elbows to attack incoming limbs when blocking is a concept very common in Indonesian and Filipino martial arts and is described as “attacking the fangs of the snake.” This is an offensive way to block and can be very efficient in MMA where you do not have the large padding of the gloves to block punches.
Fight: Josh Emmett vs. Felipe Arantes
This is a classic Muay Thai combo but is rarely used in MMA so this is a good opportunity to analyze the move. Josh Emmett uses a jab feint to momentarily distract Felipe Arantes and attacks with a left inside low kick. As he retracts his leg he pulls it back barely letting it land, threatens with a left feint again and finishes the combo with a left high kick. To make this technique work, your landing foot needs to push-kick the ground in order to give the foot the momentum needed to go back up. As we will see in my upcoming breakdown of George St. Pierre’s game later this week, the jab and the inside low kick can work together complementing each other.
Felipe Arantes had some good moments in this fight as he used great knee attacks against Josh Emmett. Here Emmett attacks with a jab and Arantes counters with a switch and a left knee while extending his guard up for safety. He concludes his attack with a left hand, right cross and a left high kick. A well-timed left knee can work wonders against incoming punches. I would prefer to attack with a right overhand after the knee, as Emmett crouches to block the knee and inevitably has to lift his head to get back into position which would make his face move towards the right hand.
In this exchange Emmett ducks under an incoming jab using his left hand to keep the punch in place. He attacks with short right hook to the body to close the distance. He seals the deal with a left hook and an overhand right which drops Arantes. I really like Emmett’s machine-gun rhythm when he goes for combinations. Changing speed and rhythm as you attack is a great way to catch opponents off guard.
In our final move from this fight here is a simple way to attack with a left high kick. There are several ways to use the switch in order to deliver left kicks. The switch can be used to generate momentum and force but in the instance above, Emmett uses a switch-forward variation to close the distance. Notice in photo 4 how his right foot momentarily moves in a southpaw stance as this helps him cover the distance required to land the kick. His left hand in the same photo is extended either in order to block his opponents visibility or as a feint. This simple move can work wonders in combination with the “Shogun punch” analyzed here.
Fight: Jan Błachowicz vs. Devin Clark
I always look for ways to go from strikes to takedowns. Even in unsuccessful attempts like the one above you can examine some interesting options. Here Devin Clark uses a superman punch variation to close the distance by lifting his knee up and feinting with a right cross. Unlike the common application of the superman punch where the right foot goes back in place, Clark lands in a southpaw stance and rolls-under a left hook shooting for Błachowicz’s left foot. Some wrestlers have difficulty adopting to the boxing orthodox stance as in wrestling matches they use the a front right foot to shoot for takedowns. So this move can be used as a way to close the distance, cross their feet and shoot for a takedown using the right foot.
Fight: Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov
In this fight, Artem Lobov, who looks more scary than he really is (13 wins with only 4 KOs and 14 losses), is fighting against Andre “Touchy” Fili. In a southpaw stance, Lobov tries to handfight “Touchy” and Fili just uses his left hand to push Lobov’s right hand away and land a beautiful right kick that momentarily drops Lobov. As you can see in my breakdown of Jon Jones’ game here, it is not a good idea to let fighters with a reach advantage to touch your extended hand as this helps them establish a sense of distance and connect with strikes at will.
Fight: Darren Till vs. Donald Cerrone
Donald Cerrone is a good fighter but he has been in so many wars and his injuries are starting to catch up to him. Also, fighting on short notice so many times does not help him avoid injuries or heal. He is usually a slow-starter in the first round and has consistent problems when fighting relentless pressure fighters. Enter Darren Till who is just that. Till completely destroyed Cowboy by using his reach and explosiveness in a very efficient way. In the sequence above, you can see a simple jab-left cross combo. Notice how Cerrone lets Till float his right hand in front of him and at a striking distance. Darren’s low guard is a good way to land the jab from a close distance making it difficult for your opponent to see it coming. Notice in photo 3 how Till twists his hips to land the left cross.
Cerrone often uses a very short jab feint which makes no sense as it is easy for opponents to catch him with strikes once they figure out that it poses no real threat other than helping Cowboy attack with kicks.
Instance #1 Click here for clip/gif
Instance #2 Click here for clip/gif
In the two sequences above you can see Cowboy attacking with a left low kick against Till who is in a southpaw stance. In both instances Darren uses his right hand to grab the foot and land vicious left hands.
There is a proper way to land this kick as described in my Joanna Jedrzejczyk : left low kick vs southpaw analysis by moving to the left. Here is the gif of the aforementioned breakdown. The left low kick against a southpaw is not really a power move. It is more of a “foot-jab” and must be used as such: to land and get out of the way.
However, although Till is successful here, I do not teach fighters to grab low kicks unless they do so in order to shoot for a takedown. Grabbing low kicks makes it possible for their opponents to feint a left low kick and attack with a high kick while their hand is down.
Here Cerrone uses again the short jab-feint. All Darren Till has to do is time the hand movement, push Cowboy’s hand with his right palm keeping it in place and attack with a vicious left elbow right between Cerrone’s guard. I really like Till’s use of elbows. Here is a clip/gif example from a previous breakdown.
See you later this week with an analysis of GSP’s jab and superman punch game. For a list of my previous technique breakdowns on Bloody Elbow, check out this link.
About the Author: Kostas Fantaousakis is a researcher of fighting concepts, tactics, and techniques, and a state-certified MMA, grappling, and wrestling coach in Greece. He teaches his unique Speedforce MMA mittwork system © which combines strikes, takedowns, knees, and elbows applied in the Continuous Feedback © mittwork system of the Mayweather family. Kostas is a brown belt in BJJ under MMA veteran and BJJ world champion Wander Braga (the teacher of Gabriel Napao Gonzaga).