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
Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”
Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:
Just make sure you don’t put cooking oil all over your body like Anderson did so it’ll be easy to grab ahold of you @lyotomachidafw 👌
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) October 17, 2017
Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”
Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.
“Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”
Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.
Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217
UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.
The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:
— Ovince Saint Preux (@003_OSP) October 19, 2017
It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.
Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.
Fight News update!!
— UFC (@ufc) October 19, 2017
This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.
With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th? Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.
*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results
Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.
Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.
Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)
Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)
Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)
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