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Moves to Remember: UFC 226 & UFC Fight Night 133

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For those training in the sport of MMA, here are several technical moves that UFC fighters used to press the action in the last two UFC fight cards. Learn from the pros in action.

“Combat Course Lessons from the Cage” is back with the 49th installment in a new bi-weekly format. Every two weeks we will analyse two consecutive UFC events in a single post. In order to make the post easier to read on smartphones, we will provide shorter descriptions and fight clips/gifs will not get directly embedded on the page. Moves will also get grouped into main technical categories of the game (boxing, submissions, clinch etc).

As always, the goal is to to expand our understanding of the art as we try to determine a blueprint for success in the most complicated combat sport in the world.

Keep in mind that this is not a complete fight breakdown of the cards, but an analysis of specific techniques. These techniques are 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.

QUICK NOTES

  • In my breakdown of Daniel Cormier’s striking game (Jul 26, 2017) I explained how DC attacks with hooks & uppercuts when opponents try to escape his clinch attempts. This was a comprehensive breakdown of his game and a good read for his future opponents and fans alike.
  • I would pay to watch Brock Lesnar, looking like the Hulk, getting beat up by a smaller Daniel Cormier. But keep in mind, that fights do not always go as planned, and Lesnar is a big fighter. Although it seems unlikely, can you imagine what would happen should he get the win?
  • I predicted that if the Miocic/Cormier fight got past the third round, DC would dominate due to his superior cardio. Cormier has lost some of his speed and explosiveness since his HW days and Stipe can knockout dudes going backwards. But I forgot that Stefan Struve proved that Miocic’s chin is not as durable as it should be. Anyway, this was a great performance by Cormier.
  • Fighters exhaling hard with a “sh-sh-sh” sound is a habit that characterizes Jackson-Wink fighters (Jodie Esquibel at UFC Fight Night 133, in this case). It is an old school breathing trick that doesn’t seem to work. It is a waste of energy in my opinion and also gives away that you are coming forward with strikes.
  • Junior dos Santos is a shadow of his former self. He is a former pressure-boxer trying to fight like a counter-puncher, with his hands down, head to the front, no head movement and without employing a consistent jab. He has even stopped using combinations. Fighting from a distance as a counter-puncher does not work well for all fighters. Ask Alistair Overeem.
  • Cat Zingano uses zero head movement when she strikes. It is very easy for opponents to catch her with punches when she attacks.
  • Note to fighters: If you are fighting Anthony Pettis and you see him having fun, trying crazy moves, it will not end well for you. Try to make him fight going backwards.

That being said here are several moves from these two events, grouped into main fighting aspects of the game.

BOXING

Technique #1

Fight: Mike Perry vs. Paul Felder, UFC 226

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Description: This is a Tyson-style leaping left hook. Mike Perry touches Felder’s left hand, moves his left foot to the front thus changing levels and jumps for a leaping left hook. These hooks are very hard to defend and that is why they are my main move when I try to catch students during mittwork sessions.

Technique #2

Fight: Chad Mendes vs. Myles Jury, UFC Fight Night 133

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Description: This is a wrestler’s version of the Shogun punch (explained here). Mendes semi-launches a right cross to the body, steps his back foot to the right and feints a level change as if he is going for a takedown. He momentarily goes to a southpaw stance and corrects his stance by stepping his left foot to the front while landing a vicious left hook.

Technique #3

Fight: Paulo Costa vs. Uriah Hall, UFC 226

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Description: Paulo Costa put on a body-punching clinic in his fight against Uriah Hall. He used some great combos. In the photos above, he slips a jab and goes for a hard liver punch AKA a left hook to the body. Hall is a good fighter but often resorts to point-fighting while Costa always goes for the kill.

KICKS AND KICK DEFENSE

Technique #1

Fight: Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa, UFC 226

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Description: Michael Chiesa goes for a single leg and Anthony Pettis pulls back while pushing him away in order to defend. Chiesa keeps grabbing Pettis’ leg and launches a left high kick. Although he misses, it is still a great move.

Technique #2

Fight: Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Gökhan Saki, UFC 226

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Description: Early in the fight, Gökhan Saki is having trouble dealing with Rountree’s southpaw counters. Saki turns southpaw himself and is able to land a left low kick. He keeps switching stances, then turns southpaw again to go for a second left low kick and is countered with a nasty right-jab-left-cross combination by his opponent. Very impressive performance by Rountree. He seemed to have Saki’s number from the get-go.

KNEE ATTACKS

Technique #1

Fight: Liz Carmouche vs. Jennifer Maia, UFC Fight Night 133

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Description: Liz Carmouche gets double underhooks and goes for a hip throw. As they stand back up, Liz is able to get a 2-on-1 shoulder hold similar to that of an inverted armbar in BJJ (controlling Maia’s right arm with both hands connected in a gable grip). Carmouche uses this control to go for a left knee to the head, barely misses and finishes with double underhooks to an outside trip.

ELBOW ATTACKS

Technique #1

Fight: Mike Perry vs. Paul Felder, UFC 226

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Description: This was a great fight, both technical and bloody. In the photos above, Perry keeps extending his hand trying to touch Felder’s guard and as they connect, Felder traps the arm and attacks with a nice step-in left elbow.

Technique #2

Fight: Fight: Mike Perry vs. Paul Felder, UFC 226

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Description: Mike Perry goes for an outside trip (photo 3). He fails and as they clinch, both are able to get a single neck tie. As they disengage from the clinch, Perry is able to land an upwards left elbow and misses with a right one.

TAKEDOWNS/WRESTLING SCRAMBLES

Technique #1

Fight: Raoni Barcelos vs. Kurt Holobaugh, UFC Fight Night 133

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Description: Raoni Barcelos goes for a double leg takedown and Kurt Holobaugh is able to get an underhook and left headlock while trying to defend. Barcelos, however, keeps control of his opponent's left foot and as they both land on the knees, is able to stand up pulling Holobaugh’s leg upwards and finish the takedown.

Technique #2

Fight: Raoni Barcelos vs. Kurt Holobaugh, UFC Fight Night 133

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Description: This is a rarely seen technique, often used in traditional martial arts. Raoni Barcelos just steps in, lands his left foot to the outside of Holobaugh’s left thigh, gets a single neck tie and finishes a slick leg-trip throw.

CLINCH TIES/GAGE FIGHTING

Technique #1

Fight: Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic, UFC 226

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Description: This is a scramble that foreshadowed how the fight would eventually come to an end. Daniel Cormier often defends strikes by pulling his head back and to the left, thus forcing his opponents to extend their punches. While doing this, Cormier keeps his left hand extended, searching for an underhook (photo 3). This is a good way for him to get a clinch as is the case in photo 4. Please notice that as they disengage from the clinch, Stipe keeps his hands down and his chin is fully exposed.

Technique #2

Fight: Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic, UFC 226

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Description: This is the fight-ending move. When DC cannot get an underhook, he goes for a neck tie on top, places his left foot on the outside, pulls his left elbow down and then goes for the underhook. Stipe tries to pull back with his chin up/hands down. He pays for it with a right hook. My advice to fighters is to start reading Bloody Elbow’s breakdowns as this was analyzed extensively here.

GROUND-FIGHTING/SUBMISSIONS

Technique #1

Fight: Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa, UFC 226

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Description: Anthony Pettis goes for an armbar and misses the arm. Using a common BJJ transition, he connects his feet and goes for a triangle choke. In photo 5 you can see Pettis grabbing his own shin and then using his left hand to grab Chiesa’s right foot (photo 6). Anthony secures the triangle and as Michael falls down, his right hand is exposed (photo 8). Pettis gets the arm and finishes with an armbar from triangle control.

Technique #2

Fight: Niko Price vs. Randy Brown, UFC Fight Night 133

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Description: Randy Brown is on top and gets a leg drag position. Niko Price inverts with his right foot trapped between Brown’s legs, possibly going for a sweep or a footlock. As they continue to scramble, Randy’s head gets trapped between Price’s left foot-hook and a series of hammer-fists. The result is that Brown gets knocked out by hammer-fists from the bottom in one of the strangest knockouts in UFC history.

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).

Follow Kostas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kostasfant and search #fantmoves for more techniques.

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