Outstruck by a GrapplerBillie Jackson
So this isn’t exactly a ground break revelation, and obviously styles make fights, any thing can happen in the cage/ring, blah blah blah. We have all heard the same theories and explanations. When I first started coaching I was always excited to work with Grapplers that were really good off their back. I felt like Someone who was comfortable fighting off their back could really let their strikes go, because the fear of getting taken down is lessoned by their confidence in that position. Over time I started really enjoying working with Wrestlers. I learned with the wrestlers you can teach them how to Box fairly fast. The stance and even angling and explosive movements are every similar. Also What makes them even more dangerous is the level change becomes the focus of the fight. Every time a wrestler changes levels the threat of a takedown is there. Which is why you see a lot of wrestlers using the overhand. Being a huge fan of body shots gave me all types of sneaky level change combos I could show that that are very hard to defend because of the threat of takedown. So now you got them so confused about whether its a shot, or a body shot, and meanwhile they are taking damage. There are also a lot of theories on how to counter/defend this situation for the fighter stuck on the other end. I recently had an epiphany on that very thing, and as all things in life, it was a simple answer that was right under my nose all these years. Unfortunately to find out what that is you will have to come train at Level Up in Maryland, or fight one of our fighters and find out the hard way 😉
What has really intrigued me lately though is the next evolution of the “Striking Grappler”. It was recently I started noticing this new trend. Watching a couple fighters on the most recent season of TUF. The first to stand out to me was Hiromasa Ogikubo. Whats interesting about well known grapplers is they are well known! So you know what to expect, you game plan to out strike them, out maneuver them to make the takedowns tougher to get, and generally out point them with the hopes of catching them standing and winning by KO/TKO. The problem now is a lot of these Grapplers are hip, and what they are doing is brilliant. They are throwing seemingly random strikes, they aren’t particularly set up the way a seasoned striker would set them up. Which make it hard for a seasoned striker to defend. Hiromasa has a really sneaky left high kick, and he throws it hard, so its dangerous. A quick level change to sell a takedown and then all the sudden here comes this kick. Then when you start to think its time to focus on striking with this guy, here comes the takedown. Also he definitely could slug, so if he wanted to he could get in there and get in a fire fight, worst case he feels like he’s on the wrong end of the exchange and he can shoot. Another fighter from the show Tim Elliot who (spoiler alert) went on to win the show and face Demetrius Johnson for the Flyweight title on the Season Finale is another great example. You can tell by Tim’s grappling prowess, and over all athleticism that he is a very dangerous and intelligent fighter. He is also one of the most awkward fighters i have every seen, and I honestly think it’s all part of the plan. Going back to what mentioned before about traditionally trained strikers struggling to defend these unorthodox strikes, I truly believe Tim is aware of this and is using it to his advantage. Which is genius. Tim did have a very tough fight with Eric Shelton who has a very high striking IQ and range awareness, and the ability to defend himself well on the ground when it went there. I think he is the guy to watch moving forward. But back to the subject.
Lastly, I have to highlight Ryan Hall’s fight with Grey Maynard. There were a lot of mixed thoughts on this fight. I for one, thought it was a brilliant strategy. Ryan establish his range with his kicks, which kept Grey from being able to box. It also would force Grey to shoot from far out. When Grey did rush forward Ryan would drop for the Imanari roll where he has caught many people and finished them. So again we go back to that scenario where going into the fight we know the strengths are on the ground, and the most likely gameplay is to strike. Unfortunately, Ryan had other plans, and utilized side kicks, hook kicks, etc to keep Grey out. A lot of the kicks landed clean too. As Ryan begins to perfect some of those strikes he’s going to be even more of a threat, and all the striking coaches in the world have a riddle to solve of how to deal with the unorthodox strikes, and teaching our fighters to not over commit to avoid the takedowns. More interesting than that, the Boxer/Wrestler Formula has a new hurdle as well as seen presented in this very match up. MMA is an ever evolving sport, which is what makes it exciting. I remember the days when you just had to worry about dealing with one strength, now you have to be ready for any mixture of them, it’s very exciting.
Thanks for reading!
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Coach
Owner/Head Coach Level Up Boxing