UFC 217 took place this past weekend, and this is a great opportunity for us to study some very effective moves that our favorite fighters employed in order to dominate their opponents.
This series is more about substance than spectacle and can 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 realize that even the slightest mistake can result in a fighter losing a fight. That being said let’s start analyzing...
Fight: Ricardo Ramos vs. Aiemann Zahabi
Although Aiemann Zahabi lost the fight against Ricardo Ramos, he certainly had his moments using his boxing skills. He was able to apply the following technique several times as you can see in two different instances.
In these two techniques Aiemann Zahabi slips Ricardo Ramos’s jab, attacks with a jab to check the distance, and lands a beautiful right uppercut under Ramos’ armpit. The counter-jab may force the opponent to crouch and this opens up the uppercut opportunity.
In the final blow of the fight, Ricardo Ramos is with his back against the cage, extends his left arm pushing Aiemann Zahabi’s left shoulder and ducks under an incoming right cross. Ramos steps to his right with his left foot in order to spin and delivers a stunning spinning back elbow that knocks out Zahabi cold. The elbow spun low enough and that is why it landed on the chin. Many fighters make the mistake of going too high and this results in the elbow bouncing on top of their opponents head.
Fight: James Vick vs. Joseph Duffy
James Vick launches a slow jab, blocking Joseph Duffy’s vision, forcing him to duck under the hand and get hit with a vicious right uppercut. Great technique by Vick who was able to capitalize on his reach advantage with a display of solid MMA kickboxing.
James Vick launches a jab and Joseph Duffy tries to counter with a right cross. Vick pulls back, pivots to his left and attacks on top with a jab while cutting an angle. As you can see above, he was able to connect at least two times with this counter.
Ovince Saint Preux knocks out Corey Anderson with a left high roundhouse kick from a southpaw stance. In Muay Thai a left kick to the head is a high percentage knockout move even if it only slightly connects. A left kick from a southpaw is a devastating kick as the distance adds momentum to the kick.
Fight: Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal
Stephen Thompson launches a fake jab towards Jorge Masvidal as he pivots to the right to cut a corner. As his right foot lands on the floor he launches forward and attacks with a right cross, then crosses his feet moving forward to a southpaw stance and attacks with a left cross. The problem when fighting karate fighters and some modern MMA fighters is that they are not afraid to cross their feet and attack from an angle. This also enables them to cover a lot of distance.
This is a similar technique to the one above but now Jorge Masvidal is in a southpaw stance. Stephen Thompson pivots right, comes back by pivoting left, lowers his stance like a runner and launches forward with a fake right cross. He lands a jab, crosses his feet and moves right delivering a right hand.
This is standard Karate footwork and can only be countered with head movement, hooks and uppercuts. Karate fighters are used to countering straight punches.
Jorge Masvidal attacks with a jab, right cross and Stephen Thompson pulls back sideways and lands a nice right side kick.
Sidekicks can be dangerous depending on the angle but usually they are just push kicks used to keep opponents away. The way to counter sidekicks is to either go for takedowns or counterattack with low kicks. Another way to counter them is by using the “Thug kick”
Jorge Masvidal attacks Stephen Thompson with a right middle roundhouse kick. Thompson blocks the kick and attacks with a right side kick. This is a standard Karate counter. Another great counter would be a Bruce Lee style stop-kick as performed by Sergio Pettis.
Fight: T.J. Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt
The move above almost cost T.J. Dillashaw the fight and he was probably saved by the bell. T.J. attacks with a jab/right cross combo, Cody Garbrandt slips the right hand to his left and counters with a right cross/uppercut hybrid that drops Dillashaw. It is important to note that a similar exchange ended the fight in the second round.
In the sequence above both fighters throw right hands which get tangled together. Cody lands a left hook but T.J.’s chin is down and the punch does not deliver significant damage. Dillashaw goes for a left hook, misses and lands a right hook on Cody’s jaw which is up. This punch dropped Garbrandt. Sometimes crouching and keeping your chin down can save you from trouble. This is a game of inches and one mistake can cost a fighter his title.
Fight: Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Early in the fight Rose lands a combo on Joanna that foreshadows what is about to happen next. Rose attacks with a fake right hand to close the distance, loads power to her hips and continues with a left-hook-to-right-cross that drops Joanna. The punch probably pushed Joanna as she was going for a left inside low kick and did not seem to connect.
Later in the first round, a similar fight-ending combo lands:
Again Rose loads her hips as if she is going for a lead right hand, closes the distance and lands a beautiful left hook that drops Joanna, causing Namajunas to miss with the follow-up right cross.
This is a nice offensive technique. It looks simple but requires accurate footwork and hip movement. In order to make this work you need to “sell“ the initial fake right hand. The footwork used by Rose reminds me of Mike Tyson’s footwork when he was attacking with lead left hooks. Rose explained after the fight that the objective of the combination was to land the right cross as demonstrated in the first example above.
Fight: Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping
Bisping utilizes some solid boxing in this fight as GSP attacks with a lead left hook Michael keeps him away with a jab, rolls under the hook and comes back up by landing a left hook of his own. This is a classic boxing counter to a left hook.
In the fight ending combo Bisping goes for a jab-to-right-cross and Georges rolls under the right hand, seems to land a left hook (or jab) under Michael’s armpit and comes back up with a left hook that drops Bisping.
This punch was successful in landing because Michael could not see it coming.
As soon as GSP drops Bisping he passes his open guard and starts attacking with punches from top. In photo three above, Georges punches under Michael’s left armpit while he wraps his right hand around Bisping’s neck. As soon as he gets the right hand under the chin he steps his left foot in front of his opponent’s legs and pulls him back, forcing him to land on that same foot. As he falls on the hook he connects his hands in a rear naked choke and puts the second hook in. It is a vicious back take and a nice way to put a hook in before taking the back.
UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre was an amazing event, held at the historic location of Madison Square Garden in New York City and this was the first time in UFC history that all three champions lost their belts on the same card. I personally picked Cody and Bisping to win but also believed that Namajunas could win in an upset. All six fighters are great athletes and will continue to fight at a high level (including Michael Bisping).
See you next week for another breakdown. As additional reading for this event please check my other two related breakdowns:
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).