Great standup coaching and theory goes a long way—the combination of Urjiah Faber and Duane Ludwig is an example of this fact. Coach Team Alpha Male, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, is one of few athletes that’s competed in MMA and in K-1 at a high level. How Ludwig brings elements of authentic Muay Thai, Boxing, and Kickboxing into MMA is truly crafty—the results are absolutely spectacular and fascinating to watch.
Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald
High Kick Into Takedown
1. Faber throws high kick, pins the right hand. He also demonstrates quite the proper high kick form, swings hands out and having the other hand to guard. This is rare in MMA striking.
2. Sensing forward momentum, Faber changes level immediately to go for takedown.
This technique allowed Faber to get McDonald on the ground and he kept him there for a large portion of the round.
Left-Hand Measure, Right Overhand:
1-2. Faber puts hand out twice to measure the distance as well as put the left hand in line with the right hand. By doing so he stalls McDonald’s right hand momentarily by creating a obstacle.
3. In doing so he knows the distance and creates the entrance for an over hand right.
a) Faber changes levels to chest level
b) Faber moves head to the left so that his head is off the centerline for a straight strike.
Countering a “Caught-Kick” Escape:
1. Faber goes for a right cross to the body. Sensing that McDonald threw a roundhouse (the kick was cut off and had no hip movement for proper power), Faber reaches for McDonald’s legs.
2. Knowing the kick was caught, McDonald reacts immediately and turns his back to run out of the catch. This is an escape that old school Nak Muays used to employ, before punches became more popular.
3. Faber momentarily keeps the grip. Right here he is beginning to time a strike.
4. As McDonald turns back, he is momentarily without a stance and good balance. Faber lands a real solid left hook as a result, showcasing why this escape is not so popular amongst high level kick-fighting anymore.
Right Hand Feint Into Overhand
1. Faber feints a right hand to see the reaction of McDonald. No reaction.
2. Faber brings hand back fast. Notice though, that his head is in a forward position already. Also notice that his legs are already loaded for him to launch forward.
3. Faber lands overhand, changing levels and moving his head down into McDonald’s hips.
4. McDonald throws a left hook with no target to hit. Faber pushes on McDonald’s waist and crotch to keep distance, as well as prevent knee.
Left Hook Kept Stiff vs Right Hand
McDonald is fond of countering the left hand with a right hook.
1. Faber loads the left hook
2. Faber launches the left hook
3. McDonald changes level and drops hands to throw a strike to Faber’s level changed head
4. Faber’s arm is kept stiff after the strike to force the right hook of McDonald upwards and outwards (away from Faber’s head).
Left Hook and Out vs. Right Hook
1. Faber loads the hip for offence. Urijah’s hands held high.
2. Faber launches left hook as McDonald lowers his hands.
3. Faber lands left hook and McDonald throws right hook
4. Faber moves exits immediately by stepping back after the landed shot
The Beautiful Push-Kick Draw into Overhand
1. The push-kick is a common strike specialized by Muay Thai strikers. This strike is not common in MMA, but for a recent reference in success look to Hendricks vs. GSP (who also worked extensively on his Muay Thai for the bout).
2. Being pushed back, McDonald’s instincts are to shift forward immediately.
3. Faber momentarily shifts back, knowing McDonald is coming forward.
4. Faber drops down into the overhand as McDonald strikes, all accomplished by dictating range with the push-kick. MMA strikers will do well by learning this fabulous setup and strike.
More Push-Kicks Throughout the Bout:
The Finish- the Overhand Draw:
1. McDonald lands kick as Faber changes levels for a takedown.
2. McDonald turns his back as Faber shoots in anyways.
3. After shrugging Faber off, McDonald chases forward with attempts to strike. Faber shifts back several steps during the chase.
4-5. Faber stops and drops his weight down immediately to throw an overhand. Notice how far they’ve moved and how Faber smashes the guard of McDonald because of his dominant angle.
1. After the big overhand, McDonald stumbles, and Faber continues to off balance McDonald by pushing him to the cage.
2. Still off balanced without a stance, Faber unleashes more strikes
3. McDonald runs, Faber chases.
4. Faber lands a hook during the chase
5. Faber shoves McDonald down.
6. Faber lands strikes, which led into an opportunistic submission.
I have not studied Urijah Faber as extensively before, but what’s certain is that he displayed elements of crafty Muay Thai and Kickboxing in this bout. And though it’s Faber who executed many of the techniques flawlessly, it’s quite certain that Duane Ludwig must be credited with Faber’s success. What Duane “Bang” Ludwig did was seamlessly combine setups to what Faber already had: power, fearlessness, and a big right hand.
The push-kick, the feints, the draws, and the catch: these are not accidents and capitalizing on these setups and strikes is not a result of pure intuition. Rather, it’s scientific combat, repetition, and intuition. It was an absolute pleasure to watch Faber’s execution and Ludwig’s brilliance.
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