How Dominick Cruz Won Back the UFC Title (techniques) Part 4 of 4

Welcome to the final part 4. If you missed part 3, go here: How Dominick Cruz Won Back the UFC Tittle (techniques) Part 3 of 4

The Quarter Circle Hop

This next particular counter was used pretty successfully many times. Cruz pulls back his lead leg in a arching circular motion, then he bumps his rear leg out laterally while throwing a counter power hand at the same time. This may sound confusing so I’ll show different examples. First, here’s an example of the full sequence:

cruz evading check hook 4.gif

Note in the following images below, the red arrow indicates the sequence that happens first. The lead leg is move back about a quarter of a circle. The green arrow indicates the direction of where the rear foot moves sequentially afterwards, about laterally outwards.

This is the starting point.

cruz quarter step 1.jpg
The red arrow indicates that Cruz will pull back his lead led about a 90 degree angle (about a quarter circle around).
cruz quarter step 2.jpg
Ending Point: As Cruz pivots his lead leg back about a quarter circle, he hops out his rear leg out while throwing a power hand counter at the same time (indicated in green).

cruz rear check hook arrow breakdown edited.gif

By moving away the lead foot away and moving to an angle further away, Cruz can minimize the chances of T.J. having the effective positioning to take him down or attack him with strikes. This is a diverse way of countering many advancements since it denies them many options to attack.

Here’s another variation where Cruz adjust his position a bit more laterally by taking a step to the side first before pulling the rear leg back to throw a hook counter at a different angle.

Cruz rear check hook full arrows.gif
1) Adjust the feet laterally 2) pull the right foot back 3) pushes the left foot off to an angle 4)throw the hook counter

Here’s a compilation of Cruz using the quarter circle hop away to time counters on T.J. as he moves in. Note that the angles by which Cruz adjust his lead leg always varies depending on the range of the situation. It fundamentally works all the same to remove yourself from an angle to counter back.

Cruz quarter circle evade counter.gif
Quarter circle evade with counters

T.J. is known for switching his stance while throwing the cross to move forward (his switch cross technique). In contrast, Cruz showed a reversed version of this. Here’s another moving style Cruz used to simultaneous switch stance while evading backwards to strike at the same time.

Cruz retreating power hand comp.gif
Cruz throws his power hand while simultaneously moving his lead leg back into the opposite stance.


Into the mind of Dominick Cruz

Dominick Cruz did a rather great job of breaking down his own fight on FOX in the post fight breakdown (which they have not included in their channel as of this time). He mentioned a few points about the fight and what his intentions were. For one thing, Cruz said that he intended to stay in the pocket longer to unload more aggressive shots. That was indeed true as he stayed in the inside longer than usual to string together longer combos.

Another point mentioned by Cruz was that he wanted to mix in a lot of wrestling, to ensure T.J. didn’t stick to one particular patterned that worked for him. He wanted to keep him guessing and use his wrestling to keep the threat of takedowns in T.J.’s mind. This was utilized to deter kicks as well. Cruz didn’t want to take too many of those kicks and made sure to punish T.J. as much as he could when the threw them.

Cruz counters kicks comp.gif
Cruz aggressively answers kicks with power shots after catching.

Cruz mixes things up by answering kicks with the threat of takedowns.

Cruz takes down kicks comp.gif
Catches T.J.’s kicks, Cruz takes him down.

When an opponent uses a tool you don’t like, you must answer their approach with aggression and make them pay every time they use it. Dominick Cruz has the fight intelligence to grasp that very clearly. He knew that was a possible tactic T.J. would use considering his history of knee injuries. Cruz was able to deter many kicks that seemed to take their toll on his stance.

The Conclusion

This fight lived up to its hype when it came to seeing a stylistic clash. We saw two styles collide and two fighters pushed to their highest potential. We were able to see what it took to make T.J.’s offensive footwork less effective. On Cruz’s behalf, we saw what kind of craft was used to counter T.J.’s angles. This fight was one of the most important fights for the bantamweights, as it opened many perspectives on what works and what doesn’t. When Rafael Dos Anjos took away the range Anthony Pettis needed to be at his best with kicks, he essentially took away one of his greatest strengths as a fighter. Dominick Cruz took away one of T.J. Dillashaw’s greatest strengths – his offensive footwork. There is one Big puzzle that has been posed here which no one has quite been able to definitively solve –how does a fighter take away Dominick Cruz’s greatest strength? His defensive abilities have proven itself once again.

Cruz has done a tremendous job of challenging the most common stigmas about what he does and what can be done in MMA. He has redefined the existence of ring rust by showing the world that he can still pull off the same technical excellence he has always demonstrated. To the most recent event, he even made it clear that his deep breathing was more of a result of technique rather than the more common assumptions that his cardio was on the decline. He is a fighter who truly brings unique values to the technical game of MMA. Even against a fighter who’s extremely well versed in offensive footwork, Cruz showed the world he can overcome it.

I hope is to bring more appreciation to the fighters and I hoped you enjoyed this article. There are more articles on my homepage of this blog if you missed any previous breakdowns I’ve done before.


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