Ryan Hall: Rolling to Victory

Ryan Hall, returning to the UFC almost a year after beating Artem Lobov, show-cased his techniques against Gray Maynard in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 finale. Fighters frequently specialize in a certain area of combat and attempt to force or manipulate their opponents into fighting on their terms. Hall used a series of innovative techniques to take the fighting to the ground, where his specialty in the leg-entwining 50/50 position could clinch the win. To succeed, Hall employed a variety of advanced tactics and unpredictable take-downs.

TUF24finale.JPGHall used the diving takedown to attack Maynard’s legs with little forewarning. The move holds a strong advantage for fighters specializing in the 50/50 or De La Hiva position. Diving takedowns allow the executer to initiate the move from considerably further away than during a two-legged takedown, where the lead foot is ideally placed adjacent to the opponents lead foot. Because the first objective of the diving takedown is to secure an advantageous position rather than immediately compromise the opponent’s balance, Hall can afford to fully extend his body to reach his opponents legs. Maynard could have ‘collapsed’ onto Hall before he was able to consolidate his position by sinking in leg hooks, but Hall’s confidence in bottom half-guard and full guard midagtes the weakness. 


The second fairly unorthodox method use by Hall to reach Maynards legs, at least in MMA settings, were forward and backward rolls. By showing Maynard hisTUF24finlae5.JPG back, Hall beautifully baited his opponent into aggressive pressure before suddenly collapsing to the ground and rolling backwards into a leg-lock attempt. Hall’s predication toward rolls stems from an advanced spatial awareness that allows him execute movements that would disorient or cause hesitation in less able grapplers. When practiced with consummate ease, unpredicted movements like rolls allow Hall to quickly bypass his opponent’s defenses.


Kicking formed a major aspect of Hall’s standup game. Like Conor Mcgregor, Hall used kicks to frustrate and manipulate his opponent’s movement. Kicks formed the ideal striking method for a fighter with Hall’s strengths in grappling, not least because they kept Maynard’s powerful right cross at bay. By keeping the majority of his kicks high, Hall also forced Maynard to raise his guard and expose his legs to his low, diving takedown attempts. Getting caught and swept, one of the main weakness of throwing to many kicks, doesn’t apply Hall, who would like nothing better than to grapple with Maynard.


While the crowd was not always amused by the choreography, the fight underlined Hall’s highly cognitive and unpredictable fighting style. Rolls, diving takedowns, and high kicks, al movements with the potentail for both great risks and great reward, frustrated any attempt by Maynard to gain the initiative, leaving Hall theclear winner. 

Author: Johan Vandeleuv

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