2 Ways To Douse Explosive Opponents’ Fire
When your opponent takes a step forward, and then another, followed by another, until you’re pushed up against the ropes taking body shots and knees, to the point where you’re essentially laying out points on a platter and feeding them straight to your competitor, that’s a sign that you’re dealing with someone who is hyper-aggressive and will not back down until you’re out cold on the canvas.
Applying forward pressure is an attempt at two things: physical and mental dominance. They’ll walk you down every step of the way to gain ground and push you back into a corner, landing good strikes as you’re put on the back foot. Walking through everything you throw at them also is an attempt to break your psyche by driving you to despair – which will lead you to either spiral into poor technique or to give up trying entirely.
Getting the picture yet? Allowing aggressive opponents to do their thing is a surefire way to gain a big, fat ‘L’ on your record. Here’s how to turn the tables on your most forward-footed foes:
Key #1: Fight Fire With Fire
If your opponent pushes you back into a corner, then combat this with more aggression.
An animal is always more dangerous when it’s cornered. It’s important not to go crazy – don’t think you can just start throwing punches and kicks and hope that it’s effective, because it won’t be. This needs to be taken step by step:
- Compose yourself. It’s no good attempting to retaliate if your head is all over the place. Take big, deep breaths in and let them out slowly; focus your mind on the task at hand.
- Assess their footwork. If you can predict their movements, then you can predict where your strikes will do the most damage.
- Assess their guard. Look for points of weakness and places where you can land the most powerful strike – this is usually the ribs just after they land a jab. If they throw a jab, then hit hard with a roundhouse just below the armpit.
This is the beginning of the tides turning – but now it needs to be sustained. Keep taking another step forward, one after another, and back them into a corner of their own. Work on landing meaningful strikes to take full advantage of the opportunity you’ve created and force them to keep defending. It’s also important that you maintain your own defense, otherwise it will be very easy for them to counter and regain control.
After you’ve fully exhausted the opportunity that you created, break away and let them come back to you – if you try and over-exploit your counter, you’ll end up being put back into the exact same position and it could cost you the fight. Ensure you stay on the edge of the ring and keep them in the center, since moving around the outside of them will give you more options in terms of dodging. If they walk towards you, then go left or right, and try to avoid going backwards.
Key #2: Clinch Up
Instead of taking a step back when they take a step forward, try taking a step forward yourself and surprise them with a clinch. This puts you on a level playing field and it’s where you can take control and force them to give up ground and make mistakes.
It’s important that they don’t start trying to take control of the clinch, so land punches to the liver and stomach to incapacitate, then knees to the ribs and abdomen to deal damage. This puts you in the dominant and controlling position. If you position yourself for a sweep-dump, this will score you points as it shows you’re being aggressive in the fight and are on the offensive.
A Case Study In Aggression
Jorina Baars vs. Cris Cyborg – Women’s Welterweight Championship Bout
Cris Cyborg is one of the deadliest women in MMA. With a repertoire of Brazilian Jujitsu and Muay Thai under her belt she can knock you out or tap you out in as little as 16 seconds. She is one of the most aggressive fighters in the UFC octagon, and she does this incredibly well.
In the first two rounds of this fight, Baars scores big by countering the aggression – she comes back hard with kicks and knees to the face when Cyborg rushes in to abuse her dominating position and gets three knockdowns as a result, leaving the first two rounds 10-8 and 10-9. However, in the third and fourth rounds, Cyborg has watched how Baars fights and understands that the best way to score is to hit hard and heavy, then dump so that she doesn’t have time to respond – and this is from her history in MMA.
This fight is Cyborg’s third professional Muay Thai bout whereas it’s Baars’ 36th. The fact that the final score came to 49-45 to Baars demonstrates that though Cyborg has had a more successful fighting career in the UFC with her use of submissions and overwhelming aggression, Baars’ ability to combat and suppress this aggression as well as use it to her advantage ultimately won her the fight – showing that whilst aggression wins you fights if you do it poorly then the best offense is always the strongest defense.
Who is your favorite ‘aggressive fighter’? Comment below!
- Ben Evans is a 17-year-old Brit with a year of Muay Thai training under his belt. His experience in martial arts so far has inspired him to continuing learning and helping to teach others about the sport.