At the UFC on Fox 4 event this weekend, Ryan Bader returns to the Octagon to face Lyoto Machida. A heavy handed wrestler, Bader has scored wins over Quinton Jackson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira among others, and has proven himself as a contender at 205 (and, if Dana White is to be believed, he could be just one big win away from a title shot). Yet for many fans, the defining moment of Bader’s career to date is his 2011 loss to Tito Ortiz – a loss Bader is still trying to move past.
How exactly did that loss happen? How did Tito Ortiz, at the end of his career, take down one of the sport’s young guns with apparent ease? In this Judo Chop, we’ll try to answer that very question with a look at the defensive mistakes Bader made against Ortiz, and how that led to his fall.
While a guillotine choke technically finished Bader at UFC 132, it was the big right hand of Ortiz that dropped him and effectively ended the fight. The reason that right hook connected is relatively simple – Bader’s poor defense. Specifically, his improper use of the left hand to defend his head.
Much more in the full entry.
One of the most basic tenants of striking defense is to keep your hands up, particularly when defending punches. There are other options, such as using head movement to slip punches, or using footwork to get in and out of range, but for a bigger fighter like Bader, using your hands and arms to block punches is the best bet. To most effectively block punches coming from your opponent’s right hand power side (assuming you are both in orthodox stance), you need to use your left arm to block the left side of your head. The left hand should stay close to the chin throughout the fight, and when blocking, the elbow should come up and the fist move back by your ear so that you almost look like you are talking on the phone. This is a good position to use when throwing a punch with your own right hand (to block any potential counter), or when your opponent is moving in with his own attack.
Against Ortiz, Bader is frequently lazy with his left hand, often letting it drop down. Three examples of places where Bader should have his left hand up to defend but doesn’t: when punching from the right side, immediately after punching with the left, when Tito moves in. As I touched on in a recent Judo Chop, there are also those who feel you should have that hand up when throwing a kick of your own, but there are different opinions on that idea, so I’ll let it slide here. But overwhelmingly, Bader is not using the left hand to protect his head.
In the sequence that leads to the big right, Tito begins by stepping in. Bader throws a right hook to counter, but as he throws the right hook, he once again lets his left hand drop instead of bringing it up to defend. This allows Tito free access to Bader’s chin on the left (which, again, is Tito’s power side). Tito comes over the top and lands the right.
This lack of defense is a definite concern, as it’s a fundamental part of the striking game. Previously, Bader relied on his chin and power to get past this hole, but Ortiz showed that you can only use those fixes for so long before you get caught. This Saturday, against a far superior technical striker in Lyoto Machida, Bader will need to have sealed those holes shut and keep that left hand glued to his head. If he lets himself get lazy with it again, the results will be the same and Lyoto Machida will be the one eyeing another crack at the UFC Light Heavyweight title.
Watch our playlist featuring relevant highlights from Bader vs. Ortiz here.
The playlist features four segments:
Segment 1 – A number of offensive and defensive moves from Bader. Watch how he keeps letting his left hand fall.
Segment 2 – Proper defense, first from Bader, then from Ortiz.
Segment 3 – The ending. Again, watch Bader’s left arm and how he lets it fall out of position.
Segment 4 – The ending in slo-mo.
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