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MMA Technique: Countering the overhand right, part 2 - Kicks, elbows, and attacks to the body

In this technique breakdown we will examine common counters to the overhand right focusing on elbows, kicks and attacks to the body

Author’s note: Although some of our sample techniques feature straight right hands, the counters are the same as the ones used against overhand rights.

In the first two posts of this series we examined numerous offensive overhand right techniques (part 1 & part 2).

However, a comprehensive study of the overhand right would not be complete without examining several counters against this explosive attack. This was the focus of our previous post, where we provided a detailed analysis of general counterattacking concepts and some basic counters against the overhand right, focusing on attacks to the head.

In this post, we will analyze more ways to attack the head, this time with kicks and elbows and also examine several ways to counter the overhand right by attacking the body and the legs.

Mittwork: Four counters to the overhand right

Before we proceed with more techniques, here are some basic boxing drills with four counters to the overhand right from my Continuous feedback© mittwork system.

That being said, let’s move now to some additional counters against an overhand right, followed by attacks to the head.

Southpaw counters to the head

Southpaw: left parry, right uppercut

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From a southpaw stance, you can also use your left hand to check and push the incoming right hand to your right, so you can attack with a right uppercut. This is such a case in the sequence above featuring the late Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Unfortunately, on September 18, 2018, Yamamoto passed away from stomach cancer.

Southpaw: left hand to the body, [overhand right], slip left, right hook

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Another common sequence from a southpaw stance often occurs when a fighter attacks with a left cross to the body. A common reaction by most opponents is to counterattack with a right hand. In this case, it is a good habit to slip left after the cross to the body and attack with a right hook/uppercut hybrid as in the example above. Please keep in mind that the head should be constantly moving both when you land a punch and after you land it, especially when you attack the body.

Countering with high kicks

[Right hand], right hand, [left hook], left high kick

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As you can see here, both opponents go for right hands. Arman Tsarukyan on the left, seems to semi-connect. As they disengage, Felipe Olivieri throws a left hook but Tsarukyan pulls back, thus making the hook miss and lands a left kick to the head.

Drill: [Overhand right], pull back, right high kick.

My personal kicking counter to an overhand right is a right high kick as you can see in my clip below. You must be able to pull back, in order to land the kick from a distance. The reason I like this technique is that your opponent’s head is moving towards your foot during the overhand right attack, thus maximizing the potential impact.

[Overhand right], pull back+right kick

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This is a similar example to the drill above. In this counter Daan Duijs lands a right shin kick (or knee) to the head of Marciano Lantinga. Please notice that the overhand right lands on Duijs’ left forearm. Keeping your left hand up when you launch a right kick is always a good idea. Clip via Caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) on Twitter

[Overhand right], duck under, push the armpit, right high kick

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T.J. Dillashaw attacks with and overhand right and Henry Cejudo rolls under the punch, pushes Dillashaw under the armpit and forces him to fall down. As T.J. tries to stand back up, Cejudo attacks with a right high kick. This may not be a direct counter to an overhand right but it is, nevertheless, a great way to land a kick after a failed overhand right.

[Overhand right], southpaw parry, spinning rolling thunder kick

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I added this clip here, in order to demonstrate how a clash of diverse fighting styles can result in unexpected outcomes. Here Tenshin Nasukawa is in a southpaw stance, checks his opponent’s jab in order to establish the proper distance and spins back to attack with a “rolling thunder” kick. This is a very impressive kick, although I do not recommend spinning attacks that result in losing your balance or falling to the ground.

Elbows to the head

Slip right, spinning back elbow

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This is another great spinning elbow technique by Gaston “The Dream Killer” Bolanos. He just slips right (and slightly downwards), spins backwards and lands the elbow.

[Overhand right], slip left + upwards spear elbow

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In this Muay Thai sequence the fighter in the red shorts launches a right hand and his opponent is able to slip left and land a crushing right spear elbow. The right hand slides through as the elbow connects. This is a beautiful technique.

[Overhand right], stop-hit with overhand elbow

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In this classic sequence, Mark Munoz launches an overhand right as Chris Weidman crouches and catches him with a crushing overhand elbow. This is one of the most devastating counters to an overhand right I have ever seen. The good thing with this counter is that if the elbow fails to connect, the takedown is right there for the taking.

Body punches

Slip left, left hook to the body, left hook

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A basic way to counter an overhand right is to slip left and land a left hook to the body. This usually causes your opponent’s right hand to come down and this gives you an opportunity to land a left hook to the head.

Here is another clip without the left hook

However, you have to be ready to escape from incoming left hooks and roll under or block them:

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Southpaw: Trap left hand, slip right, left hook to the body

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From a southpaw stance Michal Oleksiejczuk uses his right hand to trap his opponents left front hand, slips right and lands a left hook to the body. The incoming right cross barely misses Oleksiejczuk’s head. This is a devastating body punch that drops Gian Villante.

You can kind of expect a right hand attack when you trap your opponent’s front hand. As you trap his hand and launch the body punch, it is important to shoot your forehead forward in order to close the distance and keep your head out of danger.

Southpaw: pull, left parry, left uppercut to the body

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Another great use of the left parry/check, is when you are in a southpaw stance, pull back and check the incoming right hand. Your opponents extend themselves and you can follow-up with the same hand, landing a left uppercut to the body. The good thing with pulling-back counters is that you can cover a lot of distance just by coming back to your base.

Kicks to the body

Muay Thai teeps vs overhand rights.

A well executed MuayThai push kick can do wonders against overhand rights. Remember to pull your head back to a safe range and keep your hands up when you launch teep kicks. Here are some examples (clips via Muay Thai Scholar on Youtube):

Right teep with the back foot

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Left/front teep

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Roundhouse kicks to the body vs overhand rights

Muay Thai kicks to the body (landing with the shin) are also very effective against right hands. Again, pulling back or kicking at an angle is very important in order to be effective and stay safe. Timing and distance are crucial. Move left when you should have moved right and this can be the end of the fight for you.

Right kick to the body

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Left kick to the body

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Left knee to the liver

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Another great counter to the right hand is a well timed left kick to the liver. In this clip Abubakar Sabirov KOs Jelloul Halhoul.

[Overhand right], spinning back kick.

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Here is David Loiseau landing a spinning back kick on Charles McCarthy back in UFC 53. This kick is a great way to land against a lead overhand right. The opponent’s ribs are usually completely exposed.

Attacking the legs

[Right Hand], slip left, right low kick to the thigh.

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Here is another example

In the two clips above you can examine how Edson Barboza is able to slip the right hand and land right low kicks to the thigh. When opponents throw overhand rights, their weight is on their left foot and this means that they are unable to block low kicks.

You have to be careful with this kick, so that you do not land on your opponent’s knee as you can possibly hurt yourself. In MMA, you must also be aware that your kicking foot can get caught.

Southpaw: [Overhand right], left inside low kick.

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In this example Magomed Ankalaev attacks with an overhand right and Klidson Abreu counters by pulling back and kicking with an inside left low kick from a southpaw stance

However, one has to be carefull as some fighters have desceptive reach and this can happen.

[Overhand right], sweeping inside left low kick

in the first part of this video, coach Brian Yamasaki demonstrates a sweeping inside low kick counter against an overhand right.

This concludes the counterattacking section of this series. In the next and final post we will focus on how to combine the overhand right with takedowns in MMA.

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: and search #fantmoves for more techniques.