Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero Breakdown: Agents of Chaos

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by The MM Analyst, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. The MM Analyst

    The MM Analyst Blue Belt

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    While Whittaker was crowned by the judges’ cards, both men emerged looking like kings. The fight had something for every fight fan. Utter chaos and mind-blowing violence stacked on top of a deep tactical battle with layers of adjustments. Momentum swung back and forth as Whittaker spent long stretches of time picking Romero apart with feints and carefully built setups, before being knocked silly and pounced upon by the Cuban Olympian, only to recover and give almost as well as he got.

    Distance Striking
    Whittaker came out cautious, working behind his longest weapons in order to extend the distance. Romero seemed intent on giving the early rounds away in order to bank his cardio for explosive bursts late in the fight.

    The adjustments made by both men since their first fight gave their rematch a somewhat reversed momentum curve, with Whittaker owning the early rounds and Romero coming on strong late in the fight. Romero’s decision to largely abandon his wrestling proved intelligent, as he avoided burning his energy attempting to control Whittaker.



    Romero’s most significant offense on the feet in their first fight came in the form of low-line side kicks. Whittaker stole his kicks for the rematch, going to work with them early and often. The kicks are great against someone like Romero who is looking to step directly forward with committed, explosive bursts, as they jam the lead leg in a straight line. Whenever Romero committed weight to his front leg to move forward, he had to worry about having his knee snapped back.

    The low-line side kick is also a great tool to cover an entry and set up further offense, but Yoel was able to defuse Whittaker’s attempts to follow up by covering or threatening counters with his lead hand.



    Romero played with a tight high-guard early in the fight that gave Whittaker serious trouble landing clean to the head. Whenever Whittaker entered with punches, Romero would throw his elbows up high and cover his face with his forearms. As difficult as it made hitting his head, his guard left body shots wide open for Whittaker.

    The typical high guard makes use of the forearms to cover the face, while the elbows are kept tight to guard against body shots, with upper body and hip movements used to adjust positioning as necessary. Romero keeps his elbows tight to his head, sacrificing any defense of the body. While the large gloves in boxing make it easier to cover the head with the forearms, Romero’s upright stance also hurts his coverage here, leaving a wider surface area for Whittaker to attack.



    Near the end of the first round, Whittaker exploited the opening to the body with a lovely combination. He shows the jab to cover his entry and distract Romero up high, before banging the open body twice.



    Whittaker also had success using the lead-leg front kick to attack the body. Along with doing damage and sapping an opponent’s gas tank, front kicks work much the same way as the low-line side kicks in that they impede forward movement. Whittaker was able to consistently disrupt Romero’s entries, spearing him on the front kick as he stepped forward.

    Luke Rockhold attempted the lead leg front kicks throughout his fight with Romero, but as we covered in our post-fight breakdown, Rockhold’s wide stance prevented him from getting the distance and power necessary to deliver significant force on them. On the other hand, Whittaker spends a lot of time bouncing around on the outside with his feet close together, which allowed him to spring into powerful front kicks at a moment’s notice. Even when he was in the staggered stance necessary for closer-range fighting, Whittaker would sneak his rear foot up to give his lead hip room to open before kicking.

    The one downside to relying so heavily on the lead-leg front kick rather than the rear-leg front kicks he used in their first fight is that it doesn’t work as well to set up entries. A consistent feature of Whittaker’s game has been using the rear-leg front kick to convince opponents to back up, before stepping through into southpaw and blasting them with his hands. With the lead-leg kick, the rear leg becomes the planting leg, restricting the kick’s range. Attempting to step forward off a lead-leg kick deep enough to close distance on a retreating opponent will often leave the stance stretched out and make following up difficult.

    Although Whittaker found success with his front kicks, they got him into trouble later in the fight as Romero began working out counters.



    In the first sequence, Romero takes a slight lateral step as he advances, breaking the line and causing the front kick to graze his body. Without the stopping power of a clean kick to halt Romero’s advance, Whittaker is unprepared to exchange and gets caught as he squares up on exit. In the second sequence, Romero lifts his lead leg up to check the kick, which causes Whittaker’s leg to get tied up on his calf. Whittaker gets caught with a clean combination as he stumbles back off-balance

    https://gfycat.com/disastrousdeafeningblowfish

    After largely waiting out the first round, Romero switched his guard up, relying heavily on a cross-armed guard that he utilized against Rockhold. Interestingly, Romero’s hand positioning in the Rockhold fight was strange, with his lead hand on top, which limited his ability to counter out of the guard. His hand positioning was more traditional against Whittaker, with the rear forearm covering the chin and the lead hand held lower, allowing him to hit smooth lead-hand counters as he slipped. Although Romero lacked the level changes and upper-body/hip movements necessary to cover the body from the cross-armed guard, the positioning of his lead hand did make it easier for him to parry the front kicks.

    Continued here, where we discuss Romero's counterpunching, Whittaker's adjustments, and lots of elbows...
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  2. Sano

    Sano Black Belt

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    Looking forward to reading this.
     
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  3. MadSquabbles500

    MadSquabbles500 Steel Belt

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    Interesting, so Romero did not attempt any takedowns or even a clinch? It seems like this match is a bare knuckled KB fight.
     
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  4. Inquisitus

    Inquisitus Blue Belt

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    He did, mostly to push W to the fence, hinder movement, get a hip under etc. Couldn't get the clinch as W was very wary of them but was able to control against the fence.
     
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  5. The MM Analyst

    The MM Analyst Blue Belt

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    Yeah, he went for a few takedowns when opportunities presented themselves but it wasn't a big part of his game this time. Mostly just looking for clinch takedowns a few times, I think he only shot when Whittaker rocked him with an elbwo. Whittaker did a great job mitigating damage, building his base up, and fighting Romero's grip when he was threatened.
     
  6. j123

    j123 Pro Sherdogger 500-0-1

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    Let me bang mang
    Let him bang
     
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