UFC Fight Night 121: Werdum vs. Tybura took place this past weekend, making this is a great opportunity to study some very interesting techniques used by the fighters in the Octagon.
Keep in mind that the main focus of these posts is to educate rather than entertain. These are not your usual highlight reel knockouts or submissions. In this series, coaches, fighters and educated fans (those who train in MMA or in the individual disciplines that comprise mixed martial arts) will be able to examine some effective and/or alternative techniques which can be added to their arsenal.
These techniques can be incorporated both in training and fighting situations. Of course, chance, fatigue or happenstance can influence the successful application of a technique. But nevertheless, all techniques examined in this series are based on solid concepts and fundamental principles.
This is a great opportunity for students of the game to appreciate diverse approaches to MMA fighting. This diversity of fighting backgrounds, game-plans and training methods, when applied in action against each other, is what makes this sport so exciting. That being said let’s start analyzing.
Description: Will Brooks gets double underhooks and goes for a takedown. Lentz is able to grab the neck and the arm. Notice in photo 3, that Nik’s right foot prevents Brooks from passing to the safe side and defend the guillotine. When defending a guillotine, the safe side is with a fighter’s feet landing on the opposite side of the head as the fighter ends up on top in side control. Lentz initially gets a half guard but is able to slide his foot under and get a full open guard (photo 6). As Brooks lifts his hip up in order to put weight on Nik, he has no arm to post as both of them are on the neck defending the choke. This allows Lentz to roll him over and get top mount position, while keeping the guillotine control. Brooks is forced to tap.
Tips: The guillotine has to be tight in order to force your opponents to defend and prevent them from posting their arms and avoid getting rolled over. With the arm-in version of the guillotine it is easier to reverse an opponent towards the side of their trapped arm.
Additional Resources: Trip From Double Under Hook with Ryan Bader:
Arm-In Guillotine to Mounted Guillotine:
Description: Alexander Volkanovski uses a type of over-under clinch to pressure Shane Young against the cage. In particular, in this fight, Volkanovski used a number of interesting tactics to dominate his opponent from this position. Examined here are two such tactics. In the photos above Alexander uses an outside foot hook to pull his opponents foot and take him down. Notice that Volkanovski’ head is pushing tight against Young’s right ear as his whole body moves clockwise to finish the takedown.
Tips: Be careful to not put too much pressure on your own hands as your opponent lands on top of them as you may injure your fingers. Try to get a left underhook if possible when you land on top.
Fight: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Shane Young
Description: This is a second option from this position. Shane Young is able to crouch this time and Volkanovski cannot get the over-under control. Instead, he controls the hips with his right hand and punches with the other in order to distract Young, forcing him to pull his hands/underhooks up. Alexander shoots low and grabs the hips in order to go for a “Matt Hughes” takedown. In this takedown, a fighters lifts their opponent off the ground, moving him away from the cage and landing him on his back. Here is Chris "The Crippler" Leben with more details:
Fight: Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Veličković
Description: Bojan Veličković goes for my favorite takedown combo. Initially he grabs a single (or high crotch) and tries to go for a “running the pipe” takedown. Jake Matthews is able to keep his balance and Bojan stands back up, lifts his opponent’s left foot up (photo 6) and goes for a double leg takedown. The good thing with these two takedowns is that you can go from one to the other by changing grips and direction. Ussually if one does not work the other one is available. Notice in photo 6 that Veličković’ left elbow is higher than his head and his right hand is blocking Matthews’ right foot as he is pushing him forward.
Tips: If the double leg takedown fails you can still get the top turtle position as Cain Velasquez did in his fight against Brock Lesnar.
Description: Belal Muhammad won a hard fought decision against tough-guy Tim Means. In order to counter Means’ reach advantage and southpaw stance, Muhammad used combination attacks to close the distance. In this example he attacks with a fake jab, continues with a right hook to the body and goes up with a left hook to finish the combo. Watch the clip/gif to study his footwork as he keeps moving forward with all punches.
Tip: Notice in photo 3 how his left foot moves to the outside of his southpaw opponent’s right foot. This is essential when fighting an opponent in an opposite stance.
Fight: Belal Muhammad vs. Tim Means
Description: Another great combo that can be used to close the distance: hand trap, jab to right cross. The first hand extension looks like a jab but it is not actually a punch. Muhhamad retracts the hand trapping Means’ right hand, pushing it down and then goes for a jab. Notice in photo 4, how Muhammad keeps placing his right foot to the outside of Means’ left foot as he is aggressively moving forward. This centers the southpaw opponent right in-front of the right hand.
Fight: Belal Muhammad vs. Tim Means
Description: Muhhamad goes for a right inside low kick against his southpaw opponent. Tim Means attacks with a right cross and finishes with a powerful right low kick that forces Muhhamad to turn his back.
Tip: Avoid attacking with a right inside low kick against a southpaw opponent. There are many counters against this move.
Fight: Belal Muhammad vs. Tim Means
Description: Interesting footwork and striking combo by Belal Muhammad. He pulls his left foot back changing stance, moves left, moves right with a back-fist to close the distance and attacks with a left cross before his feet land to the ground. He finishes the combo with a right hook. You need to watch the clip/gif to appreciate the graceful application of this combination.
Fight: Jessica Rose-Clark vs. Bec Rawlings
Description: Jessica Rose-Clark attacks with a jab, fake right cross and a right low-kick. As Bec Rawlings attacks with a jab and a right cross, Jessica catches her with a switch left knee to the liver and a left hook.
Tips: Protect your head when going for a knee without controlling the opponent in a clinch.
Additional resources: Here are some videos to help you improve your left switch knees.
Fight: Fabrício Werdum vs Marcin Tybura
Description: A slow but aggressive Fabricio Werdum was able to outpoint Marcin Tybura. Here he goes for a fake right knee that forces Tybura to crouch in order to defend. Werdum capitalizes on this by extending his arms, getting the plum and attacking with knees.
Tip: As Tybura disengages from the plum by pulling his head back, he is open for a left high kick.
UFN 121 was an interesting event with many fights ending in decision wins. I was particularly impressed by Alexander Volkanovski and Belal Muhammad. Both have decent records and seem solid fighters. I will be looking forward to watch their fights in the future.
Please join me next week for another breakdown. 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).