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UFC Fight Night 128 – Barboza vs. Lee: Moves to Remember

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UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Lee (also known as UFC Fight Night 128) took place this past weekend at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was a night of exciting fights with many recognizable names fighting in the card.

Here are some of my notes from fight night:

  • The part of the head between the ear and the forehead is so sensitive to kicks that you barely need to touch fighters to knock them out especially in the right side. Besides the Barboza kick that almost knocked out Kevin Lee here are two examples: Junior Dos Santos against Mark Hunt and Cro Cop vs, Alexander Emelianenko
  • Besides the Barboza – Lee fight, the Ricky Simon vs. Merab Dvalishvili fight was the most technical and entertaining on the card in my book. This is the reason why I chose to analyze so many techniques from this fight below. The controversial ending made it even more interesting (spoiler alert: he was indeed choked out).
  • I have noted several times that a healthy Kevin Lee is the only one that has a chance against Khabib. He is very explosive, has good boxing and surprisingly good kicks. On the other hand he needs to resolve his weight issues. Kevin goes through tough weight cuts and fades during the fight. Khabib never fades.

Keep in mind this article is not a fight breakdown of the card, but an analysis of specific techniques. The focus of this series is to discover combat-tested examples of technical display in MMA fights, even in losing efforts so please do not expect spectacular highlights or knockouts. We will examine some interesting moves from the event, in order to expand our understanding of the art as we try to determine a blueprint for success in the most complete combat sport in the world.

Unlike wrestling and boxing, MMA is a relatively new sport and a very complicated one at that. There are no MMA experts in my humble opinion, only students. That being said, even the most complex systems start making sense when examined through the lens of an inquiring mind.

So, here is a breakdown of memorable techniques from UFC pros in action:

Fight: Dan Hooker vs. Jim Miller


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Description: Jim Miller is in a southpaw stance and throws a left cross. Dan Hooker slips right, attacks with a jab and goes for the Thai plum in a way that resembles that of a right cross. As Miller ducks to avoid the potential right cross, Hooker catches him with a vicious right knee.

Fight: Ricky Simon vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Technique #1


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Description: Ricky Simon preemptively slips left and attacks with a left hook to the body of Merab Dvalishvili and as his opponent retreats, Simon connects on the chin with a left hook. Flowing from one technique to the other is essential in landing shots, especially when combined with head movement. Pausing between techniques has its place in fighting but not when you are pressing the action.

Technique #2


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Description: Merab Dvalishvili grabs Ricky Simon by the waist, possibly going for a slam and Simon defends with a series of Granby rolls.

The Granby roll is one of the quickest ways to escape, although it requires some level of athleticism and explosiveness in order for the technique to work. Watch the gif clip to see how Dvalishvili follows the rolls by rolling himself while keeping the grips in order to maintain control.

Here is a short instructional:

Wrestling great Cary Kolat with a variation:

Finally, here is a collection of Granby roll clips:

Technique #3


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Description: Dvalishvili attacks with a left low kick and as soon as his shin touches his opponent’s foot, Ricky Simon spins and launches a backfist. Although the punch missed its target, the timing of the move was outstanding and this move is a great counter to a low kick (although spinning attacks can be risky).

Technique #4


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Description: This is a beautiful takedown and one that is rarely seen in MMA. As Ricky Simon launches a right cross, Dvalishvili slips left and ducks forward as his right foot steps in and moves to his right and to the left of Simon’s foot, thus blocking it. This enables a takedown as Merab falls to the ground tripping Simon. Please note that in photo 3 above Dvalishvili grabs Simon’s left arm in order to prevent it from posting.

I call this the “Tai Chi” throw as you can find variations of this in multiple Kung Fu and Karate based styles. Traditional martial arts stylists use it more like a standing sweep as the applying practitioners remain standing without following their opponents to the ground. Nevertheless it requires a lot of skill to pull it through in combination with slipping a punch. Here is another example from the Daichi Abe vs. Hyun Gyu Lim fight from UFC Fight Night 114

Technique #5


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Description: This is a variation of the previous move but this time Ricky Simon is able to step a bit back and avoid the takedown. In a beautifully executed transition, Dvalishvili is able to grab Simon’s left foot and get a single leg trip takedown. Notice how Merab is able to sit on his right thigh and use his calf to sweep his opponent’s foot in order to finish the takedown.

Technique #1


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Description: This attack by Siyar Bahadurzada is a Karate-style penetrating right straight kick to the solar plexus. This is not a Thai-style push kick as it lands with the ball of the foot following an upwards trajectory, thus digging in the stomach and the solar plexus. It is rarely used in MMA as it takes a fighter with explosive hips and strong feet to apply it with force and can be a bit risky if the instep connects with a knee or an elbow.

Technique #2


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Description: Siyar Bahadurzada is in Luan Chagas’ guard and attempts to land punches. Chagas blocks the left punch with his left elbow and is able to slip it under Siyar’s left armpit in order to get the octopus guard. This guard was made famous by B.J. Penn and is an excellent way to get the back as you can see in the outcome of the sequence above. This guard was named “octopus guard” by BJJ champion Eduardo Telles. Here are a couple of instructional videos:


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Description: This is a signature move by Frankie Edgar: the double-attack/push-and-grab single leg takedown. This is a multi-functional move but the main idea is to use the left hand as an open hand jab to push while Frankie drops level and catches his opponent’s left foot with his right hand. This double attack often confuses opponents. If the single leg takedown fails, like in the clip above, Frankie follows-up with punches, in this example with a couple of (lazy) left hooks. As you can see in the gif, Cub Swanson comes back with counterpunches of his own and almost catches Frankie.


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Description: Here, Kevin Lee uses an arm wrapping grip that is often called the Rickson wrap. This can be used from different top position variations and the concept is to grab your opponent’s far wrist using your hand that is located over his neck and behind his back. Once you lock the wrist in place your opponent cannot use it to defend punches. Here, Lee is in top position, almost to the back and has a single hook in. He goes for a back choke and as Barboza’s left hand reaches the neck in order to defend the choke, Kevin grabs the wrist with his right/choking hand. He uses the grip to control Barboza and land punches. Another great way to get this grip is from a failed arm triangle choke as your opponent turns to the side to avoid the choke. You need to mount for the move to be effective

In the video below you can see Rickson utilizing the grip against David Levicki back in Vale Tudo Japan 1994 (2:49 min. mark).

Finally, here are two instructional videos on how to get a back choke from this grip. Henry Akins is a black belt under Rickson Gracie.

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.

Website: www.embracingthegrind.com

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