Paul Banasiak: Breaking Down The Reaper’s Scythes

How “The Reaper” Buried Brett Hlavacek

Photo courtesy of Paul Banasiak. Credit to Medina MMA Photography.

As the adage goes: “You’re either all the way in or all the way out.”  In other words, always be fighting on the inside or the outside ranges — never in the middle.

This strategy was expertly executed by Nak Muay Nation’s own, Paul “Reaper” Banasiak, as he put his undefeated professional record on the line against seasoned veteran Brett Hlavacek.

Brett’s experience in his 21 fights as a professional put himself in a clear advantage over Paul’s four-fight professional career yet Banasiak was able to come away with the unanimous decision victory.

Let’s take a look at some of the arsenal Reaper unleashed in this fight:


Establish Reach

Typical of most fighting sports, the first round was mostly a feeling out process. In the opening seconds of the round, Paul was quick to establish his reach advantage through long jabs and quick kicks.


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The recommended game plan for a taller fighter is to stay on the outside and pick apart his opponent with long range strikes, keeping well out of range of opposing attacks.

Since this was an orthodox vs. southpaw match-up, Paul also made sure to constantly circle toward Hlavacek’s favored hand side to keep his lead foot on the outside of his opponent’s.


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Fancy Feet

Maintaining this lead foot position has many benefits.

One of those benefits is that it makes it harder for the opponent to land the rear hand due to the increased distance that it needs to travel.

In addition to clever foot positioning, Paul will bait an opponent into attacking by pushing him back to the ropes. When the claustrophobia sets in, the opponent will attack to get away from the ropes. You will often see the Hlavacek’s right hand fall just short as Paul steps back and counters.


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Inducing Panic

Paul is one of the smartest fighters in the game.

It shows in the way he approaches a fight. Paul will score points from the outside, inducing a sense of urgency in the opponent as he feels he is slipping out of the judges’ favor. When this happens, the opponent can sometimes feel the need to press the action and lunge forward for a knockout punch.

…And that’s when Reaper swings his scythe. One of Paul’s most effective weapons is his check right hook: whenever Hlavacek moves forward and attempts to land a knockout punch, Paul will throw a check right hook and stop the opponent in their tracks.


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Hooks In

After landing the check right hook, Paul will reset and repeat the process.

Sometimes the opponent is able to get past Paul’s hooks and move inside. When this happens, Paul is quick to dig for underhooks and land punishing knees to the body.

Underhooks are much better in controlling the body than overhooks, even moreso in Paul’s case due to his height. Paul is able to get his arms high up on the opponent’s torso, thus giving him more leverage than a shorter fighter would have in order to control the opponent (to turn the opponent to the ropes for example). Paul also raises Hlavacek’s arms, exposing a bigger target for his razor-sharp knees to the body.


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Solid Knees

Paul was extremely effective with his knees when he was able to get a deep underhook on one side.

This set Paul perpendicular to Hlavacek where Paul was able to trap the arm between his head and shoulder, effectively preventing Hlavacek from defending himself with his own appendage. This allowed Paul to land clean, powerful knees to the body.


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Through careful strategy and technique, Paul was able to neutralize Hoffense by controlling the distance, and mount his own offense simultaneously. After more than two rounds of punishing body strikes, the opponent was noticeably slower in the final half of the fight. The opponent’s movement’s appeared slow and labored, while Paul continued to be agile and strong.


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Although Paul is relatively new to the professional circuit, he was able to employ high-level tactics such as proper foot positioning, quick check hooks and powerful knees to secure victory over a wily veteran.

Paul “Reaper” Banasiak will look to increase his winning streak as he battles Chip “The Surgeon” Moraza-Pollard for the vacant Cruiserweight title on July 28 at Lion Fight 37.


Author Profile

CJ Maglinti
CJ became a martial arts enthusiast after watching the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers at a young age. He was also heavily influenced by the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Bruce Lee. This combination of childhood role models ignited a passion in CJ to deconstruct the intricacies of fighting and to truly understand the techniques that make an effective fighter. Even now, CJ continues his journey by studying as many martial arts as possible in hopes of being able to train a team of superheroes to defeat the evil Rita Repulsa and her Putty Patrol army... err, share his knowledge with others and help them to reach them full fighting potential.

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