In 2007-2009, Andre “Dida” Amade bursted onto the MMA and Kickboxing scene. He was 6-1 up until 2008, winning 4 matches by T(KO), and he bested Caul Uno with a decision victory. In third K-1 match, he’d face the most famous Thai fighter in the world — Buakaw — a heavy favorite to win the 2009 tournament. Dida almost delivered one of the greatest upset ever, giving Buakaw hell in round 1. It was 10-8, 10-8, and 10-7 on the judge’s cards — how’d he do it?
*The unknown factor – because Dida was unknown in the kickboxing scene, there was little precedence to predict what he’d do. His strategy (recollection from an interview I can no longer find): dethrone a king by swinging kill-shots early. Maximum speed and power during the first round, before Buakaw figures out his timing. Knock Buakaw out early or lose — there’s little chance of Dida recovering from such intensity. “Go big or go home.”
Dida would land the huge shots over and over again. Even more incredible was how Buakaw took the punishment. To set up the overhands, Dida would jab for entry. To avoid the inside-leg kicks and teeps, Dida would angle his knee inward and lift it up, or go for an inside-leg kick (refer to Mike Zambidis for both methods) : this loads up the right-hand (refer to Dan Henderson and Zambidis).
Thai fighters are known for feeling out their opponent, but Dida had other plans. A part of his plan was to go full throttle. Overhands are high energy and brutishly powerful — not designed to be blocked. Not only can they loop around a high guard, they deliver significant damage despite the block. In kickboxing, logical approaches are to move away from the power, distance with footwork, or evade by slipping to the outside or lean back. *Like most fighters when they lean, Buakaw would have a tendency to drop his hands low.
A stiff-arm (controlling distance with the shoulder protecting the chin) or high-guard should not be the first option. If possible, one should look to jam the looping punch with the lead-hand (bicep area), or disrupt the overhand with a jab. Unfortunately, Dida has the better punches and especially jab, making Buakaw pay for his attempts to use his hands.
Early Examples Of Evasion
Rocking back is one way to evade these shots. But Dida also had a plan for this — Buakaw’s defensive tendencies are to slip to the right or lean back. His hands would often be forward to cover straight punches and “strong-blocking” mid-range hooks (holding the right guard outward)… but this exposes him to the lunging long-hooks.
Lunging Long Left Hook
When Buakaw feels that a hook will bypass his hands, he’d lean-back as a last resort. But Dida was ready to close that distance, showing the world why leaning-back comes with plenty dangers. *Getting hit while leaning back means taking a punch without much base and balance left.
Roy Jones Jr. was a master of the lunging left-hook — known by most as a trick shot rather than being “orthodox”. For the most part, it relies on speed and explosiveness. But the unorthodoxy and power is exactly why it’s a dangerous weapon.
The punch spring loads, lunging forward and up with a looping punch that would straighten out by the end. As you can see, Buakaw was not expecting a hook from this range, and even a lean couldn’t get him out of the way.
This left-hook actually landed twice, and the second time it was in conjunction with alternating over-hands.
After 4 years of absence from competition and coaching elite fighters, Andre “Dida” Amade is back. Get ready for some fireworks.
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