Tony Ferguson's Approach to Muay Thai in MMA

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by AndyMaBobs, Nov 5, 2020.

  1. AndyMaBobs Brown Belt

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    Ferguson is a weird fighter, in that his poor form and balance seem to almost be a part of why he is successful. While he was ultimately caught by a solid technical striker with power in Gaethje, other technically better strikers like Edson Barboza and Katsunori Kikuno simply weren’t able to deal with his reach and pressure.

    But what’s not why we’re here, we’re here to look at his crazy off balance Muay Thai game, and compare it to top level Thai fighters, to show how he uses and adapts his Muay Thai game to MMA.

    Ferguson has an interesting camp, because rather than training at a particular gym, Ferguson has built his camp around himself, getting in specific sparring partners and coaches for what he needs. His head coach is Billy Fonua, who is also his Muay Thai coach, and the two have worked together for a fair few years, particularly through Ferguson's record setting win streak.


    He doesn't have the solid technical Muay Thai of Rafael dos Anjos, or Matt Brown, who brings the closest thing you'll see to classical Muay Thai in the UFC, but he certainly has the flash of it, and the stance. Staying tall and in theory, easy to shoot a takedown on, were he not constantly dark souls rolling out of the way.


    ELBOWS

    For the most part, Tony doesn't really do anything different from what we see the top Thai's doing. He builds his elbow game upon intercepting elbows, parried elbows and what I will affectionately call: Somrak Shit.

    Like all good elbow fighters, he excels in pressuring opponents with non-elbow techniques. By piling on so much aggression his opponents feel like they have to swing back to counter his usually very spazzy boxing, before they get met with an elbow.

    The following gifs are by no means gifs of every elbow strike Tony has ever thrown, but in terms of elbow offence, this is about all he does. It will always be a variant on these principles.


    Sok Ngad:

    The uppercut elbow, or sok ngad, is one of the most basic elbows you learn. It functions similarly to an elbow, slicing up the guard, at the same time part shielding you, making it useful on the counter. Ferguson uses it a lot, it's also the tool Paul Felder used to get probably his best knock out.


    Tony Ferguson:

    [​IMG]


    Muangthai:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here are some tutorials on how to intercept with the up elbow:



    Parrying with lashing Elbows, Sok Tad, Sok Tee:

    Hand trapping into elbows is a mainstay of Muay Thai, and fighters who specialise in elbows soon build entire games around them. It’s usually very fast paced and dirty with quick parries into elbows, usually followed by a tie up or another parry. For the clearest visual here’s Nathan Corbett, who has incredible elbow strikes:
    [​IMG]

    Here Ferguson grabs Pettis hands and pulls them down to land his elbow:

    [​IMG]

    And here is Jonathan Haggerty doing the same thing, in the 1st and 2nd clip in this reel, 1st attempt is a one handed pull, 2nd attempt he gets both hands:

    [​IMG]

    Muangthai does a variant here though his opponent is attempting to frame on him, and so levers his opponent in with some more lat strength:

    [​IMG]


    Here Ferguson traps the right hand before winging a left elbow
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    And here is Jonathan Haggerty doing the same thing for a punch and then an elbow.
    [​IMG]


    And Corbett using the same trap for an uppercut elbow:
    [​IMG]

    Here are a few demonstration of how to trap a jab and intercept with an elbow as the opponent advances in Muay Thai:



    In this clip, Joe Nattawut teaches you how to do pretty much everything we've covered so far in one video, watch for how when he intercepts with the left elbow, he then uses it to trap the opponents left hand, and follow up with his right elbow over the top:




    Tricep Elbows, Sok Kratong & Sok Klap:

    If he isn't parrying, or intercepting with the upwards elbow, he’ll take a page out of Somrak’s book and throw either reverse, or spinning elbows.

    Sok Kratong, also known as a reverse elbow, Anderson Silva is most famous for getting a KO out of this elbow. Generally it's not a move that you can get a tremendous amount of power in, but depending on your positioning will force the opponent back.


    Tony Ferguson:
    [​IMG]


    Somrak:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    and the reverse spinning elbow aka sok klap in Thai:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. AndyMaBobs Brown Belt

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    MUAY THAI SET UPS:


    [​IMG]

    Ferguson isn’t a huge kicker, which given how he is perpetually off balance and spinning with wild techniques to re-balance himself is probably a good thing. He isn’t without kicks though using his front kicks as his main go to, which is probably for the best, seeing as they are very low risk.

    [​IMG]
    step up into lead front kick, he tends to throw his front kick with more of a snapping motion rather than the pushing teep you usually see in Muay Thai. What is rather Muay Thai in habit is this:

    [​IMG]
    Faking the teep to set up a punch. It isn’t hard to imagine in a few fights we may see him faking the teep into elbows like Jonathan Haggerty.

    [​IMG]
    a failed attempt at a cut kick from open stance, which Pettis usually favours. Unfortunately here he is caught by the more technically sound striker in Pettis, who punches off the kick, a-la Sagat.

    Here's what Ferguson was going for:



    BONUS
    General Tunwakom, shadowboxing his way through various parries and hand traps, in his old Muay Lertrit style, the military style of Muay Thai, that is sadly dying out.

     
  3. TheMaster Take The Road To Reality

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    He successfully cross fertilized his Muay Thai with Wing Chun, spending hours on the dummy in training sessions according to Eddie Bravo. And yes, this does make a difference and is reflected in his fights.

    Really at this level and in a sport like MMA where there are so many dimensions we are looking at core principles rather than styles alot of the time. He combined his skills and training to make it work, using a telephone box approach without clinching with relentless pressure and great cardio.

    However whatever you call it, the amount he gets hit and dropped even before the Gaethje fight leaves alot to be desired.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
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  4. AndyMaBobs Brown Belt

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    More of his training, where he goes for the muay thai approach to shin conditioning... and doesn't get it... quite... right.





    I guess he's trying to top Buakaw's tree kicking.
     
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  5. CFGroup Purple Belt

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    Dammit Bobs!

    Already pissing my lady off training four hours a day...

    I have an elbows section every other day, but fuck if I could work all of that killer material in!

    This hand trapping with elbows is super advanced to the basic combo's I've been training but it reminds me that the greatest payoff is the best way to spend precious time...

    [​IMG]

    We did a MMA style drill at my new Judo club when I first started. It had a sequence that was a left jab(these guys r pretty basic cause it's Judo) straight right, left grip and a right elbow into a collar grip for Osoto Gari. Stephen was terrified I was going to clock him with the elbow into the grip but the chain of shoulder hip rotation work perfectly from that trapping drill I do to control the movements.

    Wish I had more time....
     
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  6. AndyMaBobs Brown Belt

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    Truthfully, it's not hard to do, but if you're not learning in Thailand, elbows are often discouraged until you are 'advanced' and fighting A-class. If you have elbow pads on (and I mean good elbow pads) and you're responsible, it's beneficial to spar with them with a trusted sparring partner, that's the main way you will develop them quickly in a live situation where you can actually use them.

    You won't find a pro who doesn't use them, but elbow fighters in particular use them extensively, Muagnthai's game is built on them because though he fights with elbows, he doesn't really want to be in the clinch, so his game is build on parries and traps into elbows. Yodkhunpon on the other hand used them as a means to gain the clinch, but he didn't really give a fuck because he was a better clincher than everyone he fought, and is the best elbow fighter... ever.

    Add in a fifth hour to work in daily elbows ;) I'm sure Mrs. CFGroup won't mind too much :p
     
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  7. II Muchetto II Orange Belt

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    Great read, thanks for posting. While on Tonybfergerson, I've aways thought that he is proof that a great gas tank is just as much as a weapon as anything else!
     
  8. AndyMaBobs Brown Belt

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    I agree. He is perpetually off balance, he throws loopy and spazzily with his chin in the air but he just keeps coming. Great gas tank and I think that he is so technically unsound in some ways has helped him against most of his opponents, who realistically, you'd have thought would have beat him.
     
  9. Dexter Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    Top WC content, as always, @AndyMaBobs! You are the best sifu on 'dawg!
     
  10. II Muchetto II Orange Belt

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    Yeah I agree with you. In terms of his opponents, how do you prepare for chaos! I feel his gas tank helps him alot with being a little more sloppy with his approach, even when he gets tagged, it probably helps with a faster recovery.

    His ground game seems just as unorthodox as his stand up, great BJJ but he seems easy to take down because he welcomes it because of his confidence in his scrambles and submissions being so dangerous.

    Fun fighter to watch for sure. He seems to make his chaotic style work for him.
     
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  11. AndyMaBobs Brown Belt

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    Even in his grappling, he's unorthodox, 10th planet black belt. And that he throws those elbows while in guard. I'm a lot more familiar with 10th planet than most people are, and its amazing how they can throw you off your game just by the virtue of them being weird. I think that was a lot of Khabib's success too as a sambist.
     
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  12. II Muchetto II Orange Belt

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    That's a really good point. You see it a lot with stand up too, I remember when machida came on the scene no one knew what do with him.

    Difference I feel with someone who brings something new to the table in the stand up compared to the ground though, is someone always seems to figure out the riddle of an outstanding stand up guy. You see them get knocked out at some point. Where as in grappling, you don't see the equivalent, you don't see the likes of khabib or Maia get submitted. Or even close too it!
     
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  13. Jose Beehive No.1 Soldier Of God Gif User

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    Great posts, and thread. Really enjoyable read.
    <RomeroSalute>
     
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  14. Frode Falch Gold Belt Professional Fighter

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  15. shincheckin Black Belt

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    i see no MT...........only WC in this thread lol.

    Corbette aka golden elbow. Got to meet and train with him attending 2 seminars with him.

    A little self promotion on Lead Uppercut Elbow Setups.

     
  16. DoctorTaco Breadhead

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  17. Cole train Silver Belt

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    He said a paralyzed person has more mobile hips than i have

    Good guy though lol
     
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  18. shincheckin Black Belt

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    i bet you got a wicked robot dance lol
     
  19. AndyMaBobs Brown Belt

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    Yeah I agree. I honestly think it comes down to the element of a punchers chance. I could send you in there against Ferguson and there's the chance you might just catch him and KO him - that just doesn't happen on the ground. Especially in MMA where you can usually expect that you are not going to be fighting a world class grappler.

    Gastelum had Adesanya in trouble at points in their fight, purely because a punch landed is damage dealt.
     
  20. Sanserif Green Belt

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    I hope after this thread we wont have to read any more people posting that ferguson uses wingchun in the octagon!
     
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