While Conor McGregor is undoubtedly the most well-known European MMA fighter, the skills of other prominent fighters like Gegard Mousasi deserve recognition. UFC Belfast fight night 99 gave the Dutch fighter Mousasi an opportunity for redemption against his rival Uriah Hall. Although an athletic and dynamic fighter, the Belfast based competition saw Hall unable to contend with his opposition’s technical approach to fighting. Instead, Mousasi controlled the fight’s rhythm until an opening appeared in Hall’s defenses.
Mousasi goaded Hall into following a pace of his choosing while offsetting his opponent rhythm. Hall’s main strength is his unpredictable and powerful kicks and a single mistake on Mousasi’s behalf could mean a repeat of his earlier loss. To tackle the problem, Mousasi controlled the fight pace, which gave him space to adjust his evasion timing and angles of deflection. After patiently assessing his opponent’s techniques, the Dutch fighter eased into the offensive. Mousasi started with stiff jabs and double jabs to throw Hall off-balance before slowly switching to combination attacks. The short, staccato striking patterns disrupted Hall’s rhythm enough to divert his attention and create the opportunity for a take-down.
Offsetting his opponent’s balance is a specialty of Mousasi and the Dutch fighter used the strength to great effect against Hall once the distance closed. For instance, although Mousasi quickly secured a strong grip around Hall’s lower midriff he elected not to relay on strength to floor his opponent but instead targeted Hall’s planted left leg. Again focusing on control, Mousasi finished the sweep with Hall’s arm pinned against his body. By mainting his grip even after Hall’s balance has been compromised Mousasi denied his opponent an arm for posting and the opportunities it brought for an early escape.
Mousasi’s ground game also emphasizes body manipulation to dominate his opponent’s movement. Immediately after flooring Hall Mousasi secured his position by forcing his full weight, in this case centered over his chest, onto his downed opponent. When Hall’s struggled created space Mousasi instinctively tried first to secure better positional control before turning to ground and pound. The subsequent wrist control allowed Mousasi to fully exploit his dominate position. Even while punishing Hall with blows to head the Dutch fighter carefully regulated his opponent’s movements by alternating between pushing his hips downwards to flatten Hall out and applying sideways pressure to pincer Hall against the fence.
Mousasi’s rhythmic and measured approach to combat mitigated the unpredictable knockout power of Hall’s kicks. Although not as specialized in jiu-jitsu as Ryan Hall, in grappling Mousasi’s demonstrated his knowledge of body mechanics and weight distribution by focusing his attention on establishing not only dominate position, but control over his opponents movements. A well rounded fighter, Mousasi’s level of technicality and overall cerebral fighting style quickly secured him the victory over Hall.
Author: Johan Vandeleuv