This is part 3 of the series. If missed part 1, here’s the link.
“They don’t move like I move.” This is a sentiment often mentioned by Conor. Conor indeed is great when it comes to movement but lets explore this statement a little further. Why is his movement so good? what makes it so special? In short, the way Conor moves, it promotes balance, fluidity, and flow. Let’s look at how he retreats.
The beauty behind his movement is that when he moves, he keeps his spine erect and his stance in nearly the same neutral stance it was before movement. Remember, one of the fundamental lessons you learn in combat is that everything begins and ends in your stance. Remember this concept because it’s important. The further away you go from your stance, the longer it will take you to return to your stance.
Lets look at an extreme example when you move with your spine out of alignment and far from your neutral stance.
Anderson Silva often used sporadic head movement at the cost of his balance. His spine was way out of equilibrium not allowing him to move or counter in this instance. It’s effective against strikers who over-commit, leaving a larger window to counter them, but against more methodical strikers, it’s not as reliable.
Let’s take a look at another style of movement. In this example, Rockhold retreats back by pulling his head first, then his legs must hop back to follow so that he ends in his neutral stance he started with.
Note that this is a two-part sequence, compared to Conor’s movement that is a one-part sequence which finishes quicker. There is no wrong or right way of moving. It’s a matter of preference. Moving in the manner that Rockhold demonstrated allows you to move the head much more quickly out of the way but it leaves you at a disadvantage of not being able to counter until your lower body catches up to end in a neutral stance.
The key to Conor’s movement is his balanced neutral position which allows him to move fluidly and quickly as possible to counter back or move smoothly to his next sequence of actions.
In addition, Conor’s movement allows him to fluidly strike while moving back at the same time.
Conor usually doesn’t give up a lot of ground when retreating because he seems to recognize exactly what sequences that the opponent will advance on him and tends to counter after drawing them in. Whenever you move back, it entices the opponent to take that ground you gave them. You essentially invite them into your pocket.
The brilliant thing about Conor is that he constantly switches up his counter rhythm. Always switching between simultaneous counters and delayed counters, never sticking to predictable countering patterns. By doing this, the opponent can’t adapt well to the timing of his counters.The following are examples of Conor countering at different rhythms.
A nice thing about Conor’s move and counter is that he can move his body back while maintaining his shoulder squared up. This allows him to use a variety of strikes if the opponent advances in.
The benefit of moving like this is that Conor can retain the integrity of his guard and it also allows him to fire of a variety of attacks in his normal stance.
Conor does have a tendency to have his legs more linear, making his leg placement hard to check kicks
Since we’re on the topic of movement and distance control. Let’s discuss a few habits he shows after engaging offensively. Unless the opponent shells up or is stunned, Conor has a tendency to disengage after pinning his opponent’s back against the cage.
He does a good job switching between kicking and punching range fluidly in the midst of his barrages.
His distance control is important factor in his game because it allows him to control where he wants to fight– on the feet with his the opponent’s back against the cage. He regularly goes in, does work, creates distance away, all so he he can keep them on the cage while denying them a chance to trade.
If the opponent tries to circle away from the cage, it’s pretty common to see Conor run laterally to maintain the center of the cage.
There are occasions when Conor does press onto the cage, which is usually done when he stuns you or if you enter blocking mode; just like what had happened with Siver, Conor proceeded to work his boxing over longer periods of time, which made him vulnerable to takedowns being in the pocket too long at one range. Siver managed to take down conor as a result.
In conor’s fight with Max Holloway, conor had won previous rounds so towards the ends of the round, conor had no little concern working the fight to the ground and playing out the rest of the round winning on points.
In part 4 we’re going to take a look at the dynamic kicking game of Conor McGregor.
Part 4 here: