Movement is the one of, if not the most important, tool for a fighter to possess in mixed martial arts and it is also an aspect which is the least discussed. Nearly every fighter moves differently in the cage, and there are reasons for such. Different martial arts disciplines employ movement styles based on stance, and striking approach. Wrestlers move differently than Muay Thai fighters, Karatekas move differently than Boxers, and so on. The term “styles make fights”, is commonly thrown around, and movement is the most essential form of any style. Each of the fighters on this list use their movement to the pinnacle of effectiveness, while they are all different, they are the very best at what they do.
#5 Demetrious Johnson, Flyweight, UFC
Demetrious Johnson has stellar movement. Period. The Flyweight Champion has looked unbeatable in his reign over the 125-pound division. Much of that praise goes to incredible athleticism, and speed which the champion shows each time out. While that is true of Johnson, he is a superior athlete, his footwork is painting the canvas. Johnson is very lateral in his movement, as lateral or more than anyone in the game. Johnson attacks from angles and circles out of danger with ease. Johnson’s angles are what allow his to secure his takedowns with little resistance, as he catches his opponents off balance when he shoots in a la Georges St. Pierre. Johnson also switches stances frequently keeping his opponents guessing where the strikes and takedowns will be coming from. Everything the champ does to set up his attack stems from his mastery of cage coverage.
#4 Anderson Silva, Middleweight, UFC
While Anderson Silva has some of the most flashy highlights the sport has seen, those high-level techniques were made possible by the Spider’s outstanding movement. Anderson has been both applauded and critiqued over his “cage antics”, yet there are few who recognize that there is a method to all that madness, and it is not simply games being played. Silva uses his feints, the hands down, stance switches, and dancing as a diversion to mask his strikes coming in, catching his opponents off guard. Silva is another fighter who moves very lateral, yet he does not move particularly lateral to close distance, rather, as a counter striker, Silva circles out of danger and invites opponents to engage him while moving backward. That is where the arsenal is unleashed. Silva’s leg length allows him to cover great distances, evade danger, and return fire with deadly results. Arguably the best counter-striker the sport has seen.
#3 Chris Weidman, Middleweight, UFC
The middleweight champion is one of the most aggressive movers in mixed martial arts. Chris Weidman does not take a step back. What Chris Weidman does better than anyone, while different, is he places his lead foot in the middle of his opponent’s stance as they attempt to retreat or circle away from Weidman’s attack. Weidman also executes his level change feints to perfection, threatening the takedown, then throwing a lead strike. Weidman sells that particular level change by completely dropping his shoulders as his knees are bending, forcing his opponents to drop their hands, preparing to defend the shot, when Weidman commits to the punch or kick up top, his attempt is met with little, to no resistance, or return fire. Weidman is not the quickest mover or striker, yet his deceptive nature, and ability to cut off the cage more than compensate for his speed and make his attack all the more dangerous.
#2 Conor McGregor, Featherweight, UFC
The man who obsesses over movement, and speaks on it at any chance he gets, displays its effectiveness in increasing mastery each time he steps into the Octagon. Conor McGregor has a stance similar to that of a karateka, a wide base, and darting in and out of attacks like a fencer. McGregor leaps into strikes, mainly his left straight from safe distances where his foes cannot reach him, the range management he employs is the very best. Another aspect to Conor’s movement is angle cutting, like mentioned with Weidman above, he cuts down angles disallowing other fighters the chance to escape from his pursuit. Conor is another fighter who does not move backward, he smothers and makes the cage seem much smaller than it actually is. This entrapment causes fighters to panic many times, attempting to punch their way out of a paper bag if you will. This moment is when Conor is most dangerous, as that is exactly what he wants, it opens up his chance to pounce, and when he sees the opening he enters. With technically precise footwork, Conor is aggressive in his advancement, and confining in his control, and getting better each subsequent bout.
#1 Dominick Cruz, Bantamweight, UFC
The maestro of the canvas, the Michaelangelo of movement, Dominick Cruz has the most deceptive and vastly different footwork of anyone on the sport, and that is putting it lightly. He dips, bobs, weaves, bounces, and dashes in and out. Cruz does it all. In addition to his fluid movement, he is extremely quick, making his deception all the more effective. Cruz has the ability to make fighters miss, as well as hit them whenever he wants. The frustration level which builds when opposing Cruz is overwhelming. There is no way to predict how he will enter and exit the pocket, and timing in his approaches is near impossible to detect as well. Dominick also does not only move linear, yet he works his angles as well. Cruz’ movement has been so effective, the current bantamweight champion, minted in Dominick’s absence due to injury, T.J. Dillashaw brought forth a very similar style in his fight against Renan Barao. A testament to just how effective Cruz is, seeing Dillashaw hails from a rival camp, Team Alpha Male. Cruz, when healthy is easily considered a pound for pound elite, largely due to his unorthodox ability. His furious pace, and active footwork make him a lock for the top spot amongst the very best movers in the sport.
Honorable Mentions: Lyoto Machida, Carlos Condit, T.J. Dillashaw, Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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