Conor McGregor: The Puncher's Path

Discussion in 'UFC Discussion' started by Toco, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. Toco

    Toco Steel Belt

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    Conor McGregor is a true talent, gifted with natural power like few other men in his division. But they say that power corrupts . . .


    Before coming to the UFC, McGregor was an aggressive counter puncher. Coming forward, he would pressure his opponents, draw out an attack, and then return with one of his own. He was very, very good at it.

    In December of 2012, he walked Ivan Buchinger down, peppering him with laser-accurate punches and kicks. Early on in the bout, McGregor missed with one of his eccentric spinning kicks, the fruit of some exploration into the Brazilian art of Capoeira. As the kick missed, McGregor found himself slightly off-balanced, but remained unfazed..

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    Leaning toward his opponent, McGregor played with elevation, feinting up and down to make himself a more difficult target. His feet well under him now, McGregor slid toward Buchinger, using his hand to cover Buchinger's left and invite the counter right. Buchinger obliged, throwing high just as McGregor popped up tall, only for the Irishman to dip right back down, latch onto his hips, and take him to the ground. A beautifully executed counter takedown--and from a vaunted striker, no less.

    McGregor continued to dominate his foe, playful but professional. For nearly four minutes he put on a show. It seemed like he couldn't miss; it seemed like Buchinger couldn't do anything but. Finally, with a little more than a minute to go in the first round, McGregor ended it.

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    It wasn't power alone that brought Buchinger low. With masterful control, McGregor side-stepped with Buchinger, keeping himself always in front of Buchinger without ever coming too close. Taunting Buchinger with his hands in the air, the southpaw McGregor nonetheless made sure to extend his right hand, using it to feel the distance between himself and his foe.

    It was with this tool that McGregor predicted what turned out to be Buchinger's final attack. His open palm invited Buchinger to jab, and jab he did, a throwaway punch designed to draw the Irishman's eye and set him up for the big finish. McGregor's eye was not drawn, and it was Buchinger who wound up finished. He lunged in with a right hand, determined to find McGregor's elusive chin. McGregor slipped, and Buchinger barely had time to realize his mistake before a short left hand came crashing into his jaw.

    No artless puncher, this McGregor. Rather, he had shown himself to be a brilliant counter fighter with considerable power. Three months later, he would find himself squaring off with one Marcus Brimage in the world's biggest stage for mixed martial arts: the UFC.

    Last September, McGregor fought Dustin Poirier. The two had exchanged bitter words for weeks leading up to the bout. Evidently, Poirier felt that the size of McGregor's head exceeded his accomplishments. In the promo video before the fight, McGregor scoffs, and insists that all of this--the trash talk, the braggadocio--is just business.

    When the fight began, it seemed anything but.

    Poirier connected with low kicks early, aiming to wear the Irishman down. McGregor shook his head at these feeble attacks, inviting Poirer to try something more serious. Poirier threw another low kick. McGregor dropped his hands to his waist and stuck his chin out. An invitation that few men could refuse, and Poirier took the chance to fling a left hand at the Irishman's face.

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    For those used to McGregor's slick defensive skills, this came as a bit of a shock. There McGregor was, inching his way into range, openly inviting an attack. And yet when Poirier bit . . . he seemed unsure of what to do. Covering up with both hands, McGregor barely managed to block the brunt of Poirier's blow. Why had he given Poirier his head without planning an escape route should the man choose to strike? Unless, of course, McGregor never expected him to.

    Seconds later, McGregor made an attack of his own.

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    McGregor stepped in first, and Poirier stepped in to meet him. Each man threw a left hand. Each man connected.

    Something seemed different about McGregor. This wasn't the same fighter who had so effortlessly picked apart Ivan Buchinger just before coming to the UFC. This wasn't the same man who had danced around Marcus Brimage in his debut. No more testing and measuring range with his right hand. No more subtle manipulation of distance. No more setting and springing of traps. This Conor McGregor was here to do one thing and one thing only: put his hands on Dustin Poirier.

    Less than two minutes into the first round, he succeeded.

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    And that's all it took. Just a glancing blow. Just one punch, right behind the ear, and Poirier collapsed. Within seconds, the fight was stopped.

    McGregor cavorted around the cage, screaming his greatness into the crowd. But maybe, somewhere in the back of his mind, there was a small niggle. Not a doubt, but an itching feeling. A hint of bemusement that this fight hadn't been quite as easy as he had expected.

    At this point, it is impossible to call Conor McGregor's UFC career anything but a resounding success. In four bouts, he's finished three opponents in the first round. With each and every win, his reputation grows, and his confidence along with it. On the surface, he seems unbeatable--a champion just waiting for his belt.

    But there's a subtle change at work within.

    Yes, McGregor is facing better competition than ever before. It is understandable that bonafide UFC veterans would pose more problems than veterans of the regional British circuit, and we can use this explanation to brush his increased propensity for taking shots under the rug. Still, with each successive win McGregor's approach seems to mutate, growing further and further apart from the process that brought him to the big stage in the first place.

    McGregor counter punches less and less these days. He rarely measures his opponents with his lead hand anymore, and seems to frequently eschew his excellent head movement and footwork altogether.

    And as all of these tricks recede from view, there is one thing that McGregor does more now than ever: punch. On the one hand, it's good to see a mixed martial artist embracing the practice of combination punching. But on the other, it's curious to see a precise and skilled striker ignoring set-ups and feints in favor of longer and longer sequences of blows.

    McGregor seems to be learning that he doesn't need the full extent of his skill to win. For the most part, he's right. He can take an opponent's shot just fine, and his opponents can't take his. It seems obvious, really, to worry less about the small things and focus more on hitting the opponent, because all it takes is one to end the fight. And each time the opponent defends or counters, it just takes one more.

    This is the puncher's path, and it leads to oblivion.





    read more on

    http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2015/1/1...rs-path-mma-technique-boxing-gif-poirier-lyle
     
  2. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    It's an interesting article. I don't know how valid it is though, a big part may just be Conor stepping up to competition that he can't outsmart as easily. His early style relied on people biting on his feints and having pretty bad defense for his counters. Dustin is a much better fighter than that, it may just be that he had to go at him a little more and give him more chances if he was going to get his own shots in. He still looked pretty patient against Brandao to me, let's see how he is against Siver (who I think is not nearly the fighter DP is).
     
  3. green ribbon

    green ribbon Orange Belt

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    The Buchinger fight is great. It is still McGregors finest highlight reel KO and it is one he will have a hard time topping for the rest of his career.
     
  4. Yusuke

    Yusuke Blue Belt

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    So is this a good thing or a bad thing?
     
  5. Credo

    Credo Punishment Belt

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    GOAT is one of a kind for sure. Not only do i respect him and root for him, i love him.

    Conor Bless.
     
  6. PivotPunch

    PivotPunch Red Belt

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    He's also fighting better guys but I don't judge him on fighters he blwos out in1 round because he obviously is aware of the business side and knows that he should win spectacularly it doesn't mean that he'll be unable to do those things in a fight vs Aldo or someone else he has to use it against
     
  7. cshireman4

    cshireman4 Green Belt

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    I liked the unique perspective. I feel like once you've seen one of the UFC Boston Embedded or other promotional videos, you've seen them all. It's the same story over and over.

    However, I kind of think McGregor is making changes and remaining successful. I don't think he has started to rely on his power to a fault or anything. When a guy respects your power and counter punching, it is difficult to get him to open up. Giving the opponent perceived "openings" or "holes" Conor can predict what is coming next because he has purposely baited them into the exchanges that he wants. I can't imagine him buying into his own hype or becoming less technical as time goes by.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  8. BearGrounds

    BearGrounds A great many scalps.

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    Good read. I got that vibe after the Brandao fight. He looked to be getting a bit more reckless.

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  9. That209

    That209 Gold Belt

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    I don't expect many to read this because it's a long post, but it's whatever


    It's nice to see someone actually make a thread with some real insight instead of just a few short words. I prefer to read this and try to have good discussion. So thank you, Toco.


    About the McGregor/Buchinger KO, notice how Conor's lead leg is inside of his opponents. If you look at the gif, it's as if Conor's lead leg is basically between Buchingers, so he has the correct angle so that he can slip and counter with the left hand.

    Conor stood there and often times, they will think their opponent is going to go for a jab because it's literally the perfect angle to do so, to land a very stiff jab. Buchinger, I believe, may have believed Conor was going to throw a jab at him. So Buchinger tried to get off first with the right hand and this is exactly what Conor wanted.

    He baited Buchinger to throw this punch, Buchinger may have thought Conor was going to throw the jab because many times, with where the feet are placed, a fighter will throw a jab from there.

    So Conor baited him to throw that right hand, and because Conor was inside with his lead leg, it makes it much easier for him to slip the incoming strike and then counter with his trademark left. So he did, and Buchinger went down. It was truly a great set up and caught him off guard.



    With the TD from McGregor - if you watch just a few seconds before that, Conor throws a kick to the right side of Buchingers head, making him defend the right side, then shortly after he throws that spinning kick to the left side, making Buchinger then be weary and have to defend both sides. Buchinger then tries to strike back, but Conor completely surprised him with that TD. It was a very good set up, making Buchinger notice there's attacks coming from both sides back-to-back, and then Conor ducks under and completes the TD when Buchinger throws the punch. It was another good set up, IMO.



    Whenever you guys see Conor in the cage, really pay attention to where his feet are. Notice how he is always trying to get the dominant angle and when you see him go inside with the lead leg, many times it's because he wants to set up the left hand counter.

    When Conor fights Jose Aldo, I believe Conor will have his lead leg on the outside, the outside angle which will make it tougher for Aldo to land nasty leg kicks on him. The fact Conor is a southpaw will help a lot with this because of the angles he can get against an orthodox fighter, but they will be fighting for the dominant angles and Aldo will likely try to be on the outside angle so he doesn't get hit with leg kicks either. It is up to both fighters to try to neutralize their opponents fight for the dominant angle when it comes to throwing low kicks.

    It's also not going to be easy for Aldo to get many great leg kicks off while he is moving backwards a lot unless he is able to make Conor show more respect and keep him at bay a little more.

    Conor loves the forward pressure and cutting his opponent off at the fence. It's very difficult to do much from that position because Conor has the entire octagon to move in and out with strikes, being able to move in all directions effectively, whereas his opponent can only really move side to side and if they try to come forward, Conor counters. If they try to escape by moving to the side, Conor basically jogs back in front of you. He is great with his forward pressure and ability to cut off the cage and keep you there and pick you apart with very powerful punches and a wide variety of kicking techniques. He has many great set ups for that left counter.



    The way Jose Aldo often overextends when throwing the rear straight, it's very risky against Conor. Conor is always trying to control the lead hand, which is more effective since he is a southpaw and most of his opponents are orthodox, and due to Conor's reach advantage most times, he can control the lead hand much easier and force them to use their right hand.

    If he's able to take Aldo's jab away and force Aldo to use his right hand (easier said than done, of course) and if Aldo overextends with the rear straight, I believe we will see Conor cut the angle to the left and counter with the left. It's one of his go-to attacks and it has worked wonders for him. Since Aldo overextends, it will actually be a lot easier for Conor to counter then because Aldo will be throwing himself off balance and it leaves you open for counters much easier, and Aldo, like many Muay Thai fighters, sometimes fail to bring their hands back to guard after they throw a punch, which is actually why Aldo got dropped by a left hook in the first round against Chad Mendes.


    What makes McGregor/Aldo interesting, basing this off of Aldo/Mendes, is that Mendes had so much success with his forward pressure and combinations/aggressiveness. Aldo was having a lot of issues until he landed some very powerful strikes eventually and got Mendes' respect and made him back off a little bit.

    The difference between Conor & Mendes is that Mendes mostly has to rely on getting in real close and throwing very tight hooks and uppercuts, whereas Conor likes to stay at his own range and work straight, accurate punches, picking his shots very intelligently. Conor is also great in the pocket, Conor can lead very well, and he can counter very well.

    One thing you see with Conor is that even when he is leading and gets into an exchange, he still counters very effectively. You don't see that from a lot of fighters. Conor has some very, very high level striking, especially with his hands.



    I'll cut it here, I'm sure many people didn't read this due to the length, but that's OK.
     
  10. Jukai

    Jukai Silver Belt

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    You have to remember that Conor tore the thumb in his hand... so he changed up a lot for that Poirer fight--- wanted more in-and-out movement and started training a lot of Taekwondo so he could kick more instead of punch.

    He was not fighting Porier like he normally would fight an opponent.

    He mentioned that on one of his ESPN interviews--- he can't wait to combine the skills he learned in the Poirer fight with his normal skills.
     
  11. Toco

    Toco Steel Belt

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    oh this thread is picking up steam, i thought it would die with like 2 posts

    sadly i cant contribute with shit, but i will keep lurking

    :p

    but yeah he took that shot against poirier that got me thinking, but it goes both ways, aldo got hit quite a lot against mendes
     
  12. Doomfarmer

    Doomfarmer POSTS IN BOLD FOREVER

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    As mentioned before, his thumb was injured and that changed his style a bit in that fight.
     
  13. Mesos

    Mesos Blue Belt

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    If anything conor has been evolving more. Those spinning hook kicks that hes starting to throw look great
     
  14. Jin Akutsu

    Jin Akutsu Gengar Belt Platinum Member

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    [​IMG]

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  15. IrishFighterLA

    IrishFighterLA Orange Belt

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    Good read.. And yea regarding thumb almost forgot that myself.. Be interesting to see how he looks against Siver on Sunday.. Seems to be in tip top shape this time round.
     
  16. wowspare

    wowspare Brown Belt

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    Connor Ruebusch is criminally underrated..... As is Bloodyelbow in general
     
  17. Cptn1NSAN0

    Cptn1NSAN0 shows no mercy

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    Good read, thanks for posting.
     

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