Doo Ho Choi vs. Cub Swanson: A War of Boundless Heart (Fight Breakdown part 2 of 2)

Welcome to part 2 of this breakdown, if you missed part 1, go here. Part 1.

Swanson’s Offensive Approach

Every time Swanson goes on the offensive, he’s always applying solid principles of approaching to ensure he doesn’t get caught by counters. Take a look at a few of his signature offensive approaches from this fight.Here in this this sequence, Swanson likes to step in with a slip jab, post his arm out again and finishes with a powerhand with the head off his centerline.

cub jab, trap, powerhand comp.gif
Stepping slip jab, jab post, powerhand.

Hop-Step Lead Hook

Instead of stepping forward like a traditional sidestep hook, Swanson has a habit of using a hop-step to traverse ground. When hop stepping, the rear leg moves forward first as the lead leg is sequentially kicked forward afterwards (example provided in the gif below). This allows a chain of swinging movement that lets the body move farther. As a result, you typically generate more momentum which lets you cover more ground than a traditional sidestep. For the sake of this fight, this meant Swanson could close distance on Choi even if he retreated. The following example will illustrate this concept.

cub lead hook into powerhand comp fix.gif
Swanson hop-stepping slip hook, into a powerhand shot. (Hop-step, where the rear leg swings forward first, while the leg leg is kick forward afterwards).

Keep in mind, Swanson is always making sure to take his head off the centerline, making it much more difficult for Choi to land that right hand.

Swanson’s Perspective 

This was worth mentioning since Swanson brought this up in a recent interview where he explains the following regarding his offense:

“I remember throwing a 1-2 and him expecting me to throw another one, but I went 1-2-2-1 and that combination rocked him and threw him off. There were so many subtle things I worked on and was able to pull off when it mattered meant a lot to me. I’m very proud that showed in my performance.”

I thought I’d give fans a deeper look into what Swanson was talking about by taking a look at the action he mentions. In the sequence described, he throws a 1-2 (jab, cross), then resets. Seconds later, Swanson comes in and throws a 1-2-2-1 (jab, cross, cross, jab) and ends with a powerhand.

cub 1,2, reset, 1,2,2,1,2.gif
Swanson throws the 1-2, resets, seconds later, he throws the 1-2-2-1, powerhand.

This was a nice moment from Swanson as it demonstrated his ability to vary his offensive rhythm. Choi was anticipating the first 1-2 as he effectively pulled away, but Swanson noticed it and saw a moment where Choi would be exposed. After Swanson realizes the opening, he changed his striking pattern to follow up by doubling up on his right. Choi wasn’t expecting a second cross and took it clean. It might look like a wild barrage of attacks, but Swanson calculated that opening perfectly to rock Choi.

Final Thoughts 

Swanson has always been an interesting prospect to watch because of the creativity in his offensive approach. Just check out this next move where Swanson throws a spinning backfist into a powerhand shot.

cub spinning backfist.gif

This was a constant back and forth battle of who could time their craft correctly. It was never a one sided display where we would only see one fighter land their craft. This was a constant tug of war of who could find their rhythm. Swanson brought this fight into a dimension where Choi couldn’t be the more effective fighter, yet it still brought out the best in him.

Some of the examples shown here are only small glimpses of a grueling war. So much went into play from the clinch to the ground. At some point, it turned into a battle of heart and who could survive the onslaught. It was definitely messy at some points but it captured the hearts of many fans. If a rematch were to occur, it’s very possible we could see the same outcome if nothing changes in their current technical game.

Things to improve

It could prove to be useful if Choi utilizes body shots more often. It wouldn’t be just to set up offense, but to mitigate forward pressure. Cub placed a lot of emphasis on leading while keeping his head away from the centerline. As a result, his head is out of place, but his body is still open to attack. Using crosses to the body can keep Cub’s offensive lead at bay. Even knees like the one Jose Aldo used to knock Swanson out could be useful.

choi body shot.gif

As for Swanson, he won this fight in all fairness with heart and technical ability. There isn’t too much I want to add other than his technique. It’s a bit questionable how he tends to throw his kicks. When he throws kicks, he has this strange habit of bounce stepping on his standing leg after the kick lands instead of returning back into his neutral stance. That additional bounce he takes often takes him off balance which means it takes him that much longer to return back to a neutral stance.

cub off balance kick comp.gif
Swanson bouncing forward after landing a kick.

Likewise, he has habit of going airborne during his kicks as well. The same principle applies here where if you go airborne; it takes that much longer for your body to return to the ground, meaning it takes you longer to return to your stance. This often sacrifices fluidity as it makes it harder to transition to your next move efficiently. Airborne attacks aren’t too common in fights for this reason. This is why we don’t typically see attacks like a shoryuken. Hadoukens are a different story though. Please, feel free to use them as much as possible in fights.

mma hadouken.gif

Visit my homepage for more breakdowns from fighters like Conor McGregor, Dominick Cruz, T.J Dillashaw and many more. If you’re interested in learning about the finer details of footwork and fighters habits, give it a look.

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Have a Nice Day. =)

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