Tag Archive: fighting

Reach Advantage

I said I would analyse the technical aspects of the fights at UFC 119 and WEC 51 a while ago. The main thing I wanted to touch on was reach advantage. If you don’t already know (and I’m sure you do), reach advantage describes the difference in the length of the limbs between two competing fighters. In boxing this is only apparent in arm length and can be an advantage and disadvantage. A rangy fighter (like Tommy Hearns or Paul Williams) can utilise this by staying on the outside and popping off jabs and crosses. Not only are they able to do this outside the punching range (and relatively safely) of their opponent, they are also able to generate more power on their straight punches. Additionally if they have good movement, they can unleash counters quite easily. However this can also be a disadvantage if the shorter opponent is able to get close (as in Hagler vs Hearns or any Mike Tyson fight). This is because shorter fighters can generate more power up close with short punches like hooks and uppercuts. Additionally, shorter fighters can more easily duck and roll to avoid the lengthy and now less accurate punches of the taller fighter. In Kickboxing, reach advantage usually manifests itself in the legs, as fighters can stay out of their opponents punching range whilst using kicks. Taller fighters can stay outside of their opponents kicking range by using kicks as well. To avoid the kicking range, shorter kickboxers will move into punching range where they may throw leg kicks and short body kicks, but cannot utilise their full kicking arsenal, relying mostly on their hands.

This brings me to my point on reach advantage in MMA. In MMA, the clinch game is more developed. A reach advantage is useful at kicking range, punching range and clinch range. This is because MMA cannot shoulder roll, duck and dodge in close quarters for long periods of time without getting knee’d or clinched. The clinch effectively negates inside boxing. The Muay Thai clinch especially favours longer fighters who can get more leverage on the neck and head of their opponent with their longer arms. Longer legs make it easier for knees to find their target, especially when that target is the head. That’s not to say stocky fighters can’t compete, but they will most likely be doing it with fast movement and good wrestling a la Sean Sherk or with good greco/dirty boxing. Sean Sherk has been especially effective in using his frame for stifling top control, but as we have seen, it is not of use when striking against other non-little people.

Of course, Sean Sherk fought at UFC 119 where he lost to Evan Dunham (not officially, but obviously) based on his reach disadvantage. Dunham was able to throw straight punches, long uppercuts and kick combos whilst being safe from Sherks more technical inside boxing.

Dunham was not the only one who’s reach gave him a large advantage. Lytle used his to slam box Serra, Torres used his to tee off on Valencia, Cerrone (along with vastly improved wrestling and use of kicks) to punish Varner (great fight btw, as are all the ones listed here), Roop threw long punches and moved around the stationary Korean Zombie to notch a classic head kick knockout and Hominick (less of a reach advantage here) displayed how more technical outside, counter kick boxing can be used to frustrate brawlers and inside fighters.

I suppose this is why stocky 5 ft 9 monsters like Thiago Alves choose to stay at 170 where most opponents are under 6ft rather than move up to 185 where they tend to stray over 6 ft.

For me, the nature of the clinch in MMA helps taller fighters who struggle with classic inside boxing. Of course being stocky (or tall) have their differing advantages on the mat, but that is a discussion for another time.


UFC 119 Breakdown

Main Card:

Frank Mir vs Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

Classic striker versus grappler match up……blah blah blah….Realistically, both these guys have been around long enough that they are both more well-rounded than their stereotypes. Frank Mir can strike now (maybe not as well as he thinks he can, but still pretty damn good), he rocked Cheick Kongo, he finished Old Big Nog and his footwork his pretty solid. His karate background means he has a decent kicking game which is complemented by his flexibility. Obviously his Jiu Jitsu is “top of the food chain” (to quote Joe Rogan). It’s not serious ADCC or Mundial medal winning Jiu Jitsu, but Mir is very creative on the ground and is effective in a ground scramble. Undoubtedly, ┬áhis biggest weakness is his wrestling and while Cro Cop is no Brock Lesnar in that department, he is undeniably one of the best anti-wrestlers ever to compete in the sport. This could make it very hard for Mir to take the fight where he needs to. If Mir chooses to pull guard he risks being in the bottom position against a man who has devastating ground and pound. Cro Cop is no slouch on the ground having studied BJJ for about 10 years and he has only been submitted by Noguiera. On the feet, where I think a lot of this fight will play out, Cro Cop still has the advantage. Mir is not Junior Dos Santos or Overeem and I don’t expect him to soundly outstrike Cro Cop or knock him out. Nonetheless it is still yet to be seen whether Cro Cop can corner anyone in the cage the way he could in the ring and I think Mir will be prepared for his vaunted left head kick by circling away. If Cro Cop wants to use his best tool he has throw right leg and body kicks at Frank Mir to stop his lateral movement. The truth about this fight like any recent Cro Cop fight is it comes down to whether he still has the mentality. Mir has probably annoyed him enough to take this seriously, but he needs to be brave to uncork fast kicks at the risk of being taken down. I could analyse this match up forever because I think in many ways it is a pick-em, but I’m tending towards Mir as there are too many doubts hanging over Cro Cop, especially with all the eye injury rumours lurking about and I think he has more ways to win. I’m not sure he can finish Cro Cop so I’m picking a decision.

Mir by not quite sure

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira versus Ryan “Darth” Bader Continue reading