UFC 223: Khabib vs. Iaquinta is in the books and there were so many interesting moves on display during the event. The most technical fights on the card were Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Kyle Bochniak and the highly anticipated rematch between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
I am a big fan of Joanna and I analyzed her game here on BloodyElbow in my article titled Jabs, elbows and high kicks: A breakdown of Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s game:
Joanna is a great fighter with heart and determination but unfortunately it seems that Rose “has her number” to use a common fighting phrase. There are several aspects of the fighting game that Joanna is great at but as far as the ones that count are concerned Rose is more efficient and technical.
Rose landed 105 significant strikes & Joanna 145, but this is misleading and you could see it in the damage that was accumulated in Joanna’s face. Rose landed 80% on the head and Joanna just 44%: http://www.fightmetric.com/fight-details/829b3ee4145a1ae6
Joe Rogan has an obsession with low kicks and often overemphasizes their importance, but a low kick is not as effective as a left hook to the head. It is important to note that Rose is tough enough to absorb the low kicks and not show signs of discomfort. If a fighter starts limping or falling down from low kicks it does not look good in the eyes of the judges.
Joanna was busy and somewhat effective with low kicks and it was certainly a close fight but Rose was the one that deserved to get her hand raised. The difference between the two fighters was their boxing. Rose employed excellent head movement, whereas on the other hand Joanna kept circling towards her opponent’s right cross while staying at range. I also noticed that Joanna has a tendency of closing her eyes during boxing exchanges and starts throwing combinations without looking at the target.
This article is not a full breakdown of the fight, as the focus is to highlight several techniques that helped Rose get the win. These techniques were successful because they rely on solid concepts of the MMA game and as such can be trained and incorporated in a fighter’s arsenal. Such moves can also help MMA fans appreciate the science behind our exciting sport. All these techniques can be trained in an MMA gym in the same manner as they were applied in action.
Description: As I mentioned above, Namajunas used excellent head movement in order to stay out of trouble and go after her opponent. In the photos above Joanna jabs, Rose slips right and lands a jab of her own. What is important to note is that Namajunas slips the punch while moving forward (photo 2) so when her front foot touches the ground, she is very close to Joanna and that is why she is able to land.
Description: The problem with seasoned Thai kickboxers like Joanna (and this also applies to Glory fighters) is that they rely a lot on the high glove guard for their defense. The high guard works in kickboxing where fighters attack with 2-3 punch combos and mix kicks in-between, but does not work as well in the cage because MMA gloves do not offer the same protection. Head movement is very important in boxing and MMA. In the example above, Rose attacks with a jab and a right cross and Joanna covers up in order to defend. Both fighters go for a left hook but only Rose connects as she throws the hook while moving her head back thus transferring her bodyweight to the back foot. Joanna on the other hand misses. To illustrate this more efficiently here are some great details about landing the left hook from Lamon Brewster:
Description: Here, both fighters go for a right cross resulting in a common arms entanglement that I call “the anchor” (photo 1) and both follow-up with left hooks. Rose seems to be the one who connects. The interesting part is that as Joanna starts moving backwards, Rose catches her with a jab-uppercut hybrid. This is a punch made popular by Mike Tyson and Rose’s execution is just beautiful to watch.
Description: Here Joanna attacks with a right teep (push kick) with her back foot and Rose makes her miss by moving forward and to the left. Namajunas connects with a jab, right cross and a left hook combo. The two fighters finally go to the clinch. This is a great counter to the right teep although it is more of a Karate-style move.
Description: Rose attacks with a left hook and right cross. Joanna slips the cross and attacks with a left hook as Rose covers up to defend. Namajunas counterattacks and connects with a left hook and Joanna pulls back. MMA striking is a game of inches.
Description: If you are one of the select few that follow my work then you know I love Bruce Lee and his use of backfists. Here we will examine two such examples.
In the photos above Rose goes for a right haymaker cross and Joanna moves forward and ducks under the punch with the objective to follow-up with a right cross of her own. Joanna misses as her opponent is too far away and as Rose’s right cross is still moving forward, without any disruption of movement, Namajunas twists her hips backwards and is able to land a backfist.
Description: Joanna attacks with a jab to the body and pulls back to in order to avoid an incoming right cross thus making her opponent miss. Namajunas pulls her right hand back, lands a right backfist and follows up with a left hook. I like how Rose pivots left while throwing the left hook. If two fighters attack with left hooks at the same time and one remains stationary while the other pivots left, the latter makes his/her opponent miss.
Description: “Bruce Lee type” moves continued. Rose is not your traditional Thai boxer. Her kicks look more like Karate kicks but she nevertheless has great control while kicking.
Here Rose goes for a right teep and Joanna deflects it with her left arm. As Rose misses and before her foot lands on the floor, she attacks with a right sidekick to the thigh. She is still able to move out of the way of an incoming right low kick from Joanna. This is a great move. Rose is a very creative fighter.
Description: Final “Bruce Lee type” move of the fight. Here Rose attacks with a right push kick to the face and misses. As her foot is moving downwards and before it hits the ground, she is still able to land a right side kick and push Joanna away from her. This is another impressive move.
Description: The final move of the day and the one that sealed the deal for Rose is this takedown jn round 5. She attacks with a right cross to close the distance and uses her right foot-hook to trip her opponent as she grabs Joanna’s waist with her hands.
Overall, this was a very impressive performance by Rose Namajunas a against a very tough and resilient Joanna Jedrzejczyk
That will be all for now. 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).