This is my second piece on the front page of BloodyElbow, I hope you don't mind clicking the link and thank you for your continuing support and advice. As always, all critique is welcomed!
On a recent episode of The MMA Show, and in an article on BloodyElbow, I predicted that Rashad Evans would not be allowed to get close enough to UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones, to land his noted right hand. I asserted that Jones would use his front kicks to the knee, long punches, and brutal low kicks (made doubly effective by Rashad's side on stance) to pick Evans apart. All of these elements were present, but what I never saw coming (and neither did Rashad) was Jones' willingness to move into Rashad's punching range, in order to land short elbow strikes.
This unique strategy on Jones' part was probably the suggestion of either Greg Jackson or Mike Winkeljohn, and has seemed to defuse one of the main areas in which it was thought Jones could be beaten. It has long been assumed that, just as in boxing, if you crowd a man who owns a freakish reach advantage, he will be unable to strike effectively. By crowding a longer man in boxing, the shorter fighter can begin to work effectively in bursts between the range where his opponents punches are at their strongest and longest, and the range where his opponent can tie him up. The traditional boxing strategy has seemed to hold true through MMA's short life, Stefan Struve vs Junior Dos Santos is an excellent example of a longer man simply having nothing when a man with a shorter reach crowds him and relentlessly throws punches. Jones' success against Rashad, often by stepping in so close that he himself could not punch, has not only highlighted a new area of Jones' personal game, but also the criminal under-use of elbows in MMA as a whole.
Just a day before, however, Shinya Aoki, the Japanese grappling phenomenon whose stand up game has been steadily improving under the guidance of the elite Thai trainers at Evolve MMA, threw an incredibly ill advised lead elbow strike at Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez, a more than competent striker, moved back, allowing the short strike to miss, then jumped into range and countered through the wake of the failed elbow, dropping Aoki to his back and finishing him with a savage blitz of ground and pound.
The advantages of elbow strikes are very clear:
They are ungloved, and so deliver far more damage in a short area.
The forearm bones and point of the elbow have little meat over them, meaning that the collision is made almost entirely with bone, which is likely to open a cut.
They can be thrown quickly and at almost any angle; from above, below, spinning, slashing downward, 12 to 6 (though currently illegal, unless you are on your back, bizarrely), jumping, falling.
Why then, are elbows not used more readily in MMA? For that, we shall have to examine the hazards of attempting elbow strikes, and the ways in which successful exponents of elbow strikes have alleviated these dangers.
Continues at: http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2012/4/23/2968351/UFC-Elbows-Jon-Jones-Shinya-Aoki-How-to-Technique#storyjump