BIOMECH Breakdown: Torres vs. McDonald

Today’s BB is not about the KO that McDonald laid on Torres, despite it’s awesomeness

I was watching the fights with my buddy Dan at a pub on the Danforth (Greek town in Toronto) and I was pretty pumped about the Torres/McDonald bout.

McDonald is a young fireball with a ton of potential and it looks like he’s about to go on a roller coaster as opposed to go into a fight – he’s always having a good time.

Anyway, study this for a moment then we’ll continue:

UFC 145 Torres vs. McDonald

After looking at it what do you note?

Other than the age difference, the 6″ reach advantage that Torres has over McDonald is a big deal, especially since they’re the same height.

Now, check out this still image from their fight:

Torres vs McDonald fight at UFC 145

What do you notice?

OK, here’s what I see…

Miguel has an extremely exaggerated kyphotic (rounded) thoracic spine and forward head. It’s almost as if he doesn’t have a neck.

I call this the turtle posture for obvious reasons…

Compare this to McDonald, who many might say stands pretty straight up.

The turtle posture has a few benefits – such as making your body a smaller target and it helps you keep your chin tucked down.

But it also has some major drawbacks, such as moving your head and chin a bit closer towards your opponent. This totally negates Torres’ significant 6″ reach advantage in this fight. His chin is 2-3″ closer to McDonald compared to if he didn’t have forward head posture. This probably contributed to McDonald landing the big uppercut punch that lead to the KO.

I first made a note of this when watching Pacquiao vs. Margarito. Pacquiao gave up 4.5″ in height and 6″ in reach, but Margarito’s forward head posture helped Manny reach him a lot easier than if he’d stayed tall and used his range. Here’s pic showing you what I mean, look at the rounding in Margarito’s back:

When you’re in turtle posture, your abdominals (specifically rectus abdominis and external obliques) are contracted to bring your rib cage down and round you forward.

When they’re in this shortened position, they’re not as strong as when they’re in neutral position, thus, you can’t generate as much force form your core for your punches.

The other thing when you’re in turtle posture is that you’re basically in the worst possible posture for shoulder and neck health.

Excessive thoracic kyphosis and forward head are a part of something called Upper Cross syndrome, which I talk about and give you solutions for in my Ultimate MMA S&C Program. I also talked about this in the free INDESTRUCTIBLE Shoulder Injury guide.

The bottom line is that being in this posture not only makes you look like an old man, but it makes shoulder and neck problems very likely.

In fact, I just received this email from Chris, an amateur mixed martial artist who wants to have a pro fight:

"Hi Eric.

I purchased your strength and conditioning program and love your blog and all the info you pass along I have found it most helpful and it definitly has raised my game over the last year. I am now faced with an injury (not sure if that is the correct term) that will not go away. I have had a MRI and the sports medicine doc says I have disc degeneration in my neck C5/C6 and should quit MMA. I am 38 years old and I have had a couple amateur fights and my goal was to get at least one pro fight before I hung up the gloves. My question to you is in your professional opinion can I reverse this to a point where I can compete at a high level or should I just give up? Really I guess is it even reversible to a point where I am not in pain? I love mma but I do not want to quit eventually I thought I would teach as well but I don't want to be crippled later in life. I am trying to stenghten my back more and have aopted your 3 to 1 push/pull work out plan in order to get my dumbell rows to equal my dumbell press.  I have also been stretching my chest, lats and neck and I have really focused on getting rid of bad forward posture but abviously as you have stated the fighting stance is not really the best posture ever...not to mention the stress on my neck from rolling. Anyway I am just curious to see what you think as I definitly respect your opinion. Thank you so much for all the time and energy you put in to providing free info for your blog subscribers. It is greatly appreciated.


First of all, from my vantage point of not knowing the extent of the degeneration, not having assessed you fully in person and I don’t know what your pain is like, I can’t say for certain. All I can do is talk in general terms, which may help if you apply them.

To my knowledge, you can’t really reverse disc degeneration. But you don’t necessarily need to. In fact, most people above the age of 30 have discs that would be classified as ‘degenerated’, yet are symptom free.

And it’s not really a disease, but a process that occurs naturally with age and is sped up through excessive stress on the discs when they’re in bad posture, like forward head.

The key thing is minimizing the stresses on the discs that are causing pain. You’ve obviously been paying attention since you’re  doing some things that will help, namely working your pull muscles more and stretching your chest, lats and neck. Thoracic spine mobilizations are also important. The chin tuck stretch I show you in the Shoulder guide is HUGE.

But you’re probably going to have to adapt your fighting style and training to minimize the stress on the neck by keeping the neck in neutral posture – that means no more turtle posture.

That means asking your training partners not to crank your neck, or rip you around the ring with a Thai clinch. Basically anything that really aggravates is out. You’ve got to remove all of these things for healing to occur, then only do them if they don’t aggravate you further.

You also might have to change your fighting stance to stand more upright. If you think this isn’t possible or is dangerous, just look at guys like Anderson Silva, GSP and Machida to realize that you can excel without the turtle posture. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, standing a little taller will help you generate more power with your hands because your abs are in a better position for generating force.

This is one of the hardest things for guys to do – change up their old, ingrained habits. But this situation might necessitate it – not everyone’s body can handle the torture that turtle posture wreaks on it.

Some more things to do include various yoga postures such as the bow pose that I show you in the video below (bow pose @ 5:59):

Yoga postures like this one are a part of my 3D Flexibility model, because they affect part the fascia component of soft tissue.

All about fascia.

A fascinating book detailing fascia and its anatomy and functions in the body is Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers. The basic premise is that the fascia, which is the saran-wrap like cover over our muscles, runs from head to toe and there are various fascial lines, or trains.

Somehow, thousands of years ago, some Indian guy started moving his body into weird looking postures that just happen to specifically target these fascial lines.

An example is how the bow pose I show you above hits what Tom Myers calls the Superficial Front Line.

There are a ton of different postures in yoga and the best bet is to figure out what feels like it’s working well for you.

The only way to do that is to try out a bunch of different postures.

And here’s where I”m going to reveal what I’ve got planned for those who want to start working on their kick height right now.

*********** BIG ANNOUNCEMENT **********

I’ve decided to start a small group coaching program where over the next 4 weeks, I direct you to what you need to do to kick higher with more power.

It’s based on my 3D Flexibility model of addressing the 3 main factors of flexibility: soft tissue, neuromuscular and strength. 

I’m also all about value and making sure you get MORE than what you paid for.

I could easily charge $97 for this, but here’s what I’m going to do (this is ridiculous and I should kick my own ass for doing this)…

There are 3 steps to joining the VIP High Kick Coaching program:

Step 1Pickup the yoga program here (I even negotiated a discount for you)

Step 2Enter your invoice # on this page to verify that you picked up the program. 

Step 3 – Wait for the 1st email from me that will come Monday, April 30, 2012 to kick off the coaching program. 

Grabbing the yoga program here not only gives you your ticket to my VIP coaching program, but it also gives you a wealth of yoga moves that you can go through to determine where you may be limited by your fascia.

I’ll also be directing you to perform specific stretches from the program as part of the VIP coaching program.

PLUS – when I launch the 3D Flexibility program in a couple of months, you’ll get a discount equal to the value of the Yoga program! So it’s basically like getting the Yoga program and my coaching for FREE (if you’re planning on getting the 3D Flexibility program when I launch it).

Space is limited and the deadline for signing up is Thursday at midnight, so follow the instructions above and get in now!

Can’t wait to start coaching you to higher and more powerful kicks!

– Eric

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8 years ago

Did buy the Yoga-program. Still don`t feel like a wuss.
Already tried a few exercises and underestimated the complexity level Haha
Looks too easy in the videos …
But I have to skip the high kick coaching, unfortunately there`s a lot of trouble at the moment.
Can`t take too many things up 🙁
So, more space for other candidates 😉

8 years ago
Reply to  Leinz

OK thanks for letting me know Leinz, hope you get everything sorted.

8 years ago

Sure im getting this deal i have found succes with your programas i have finished the oapu 3 times in a row the mma s and c and im in the 8week muscle gain one right now is my first week on that one and im getting results already
My flexibility is really ugly i would be crazy if i dont get this deal done hahaha

8 years ago

Hi Eric,
Could this also apply to other spine disorders like scoliosis(Curvature of the spine)?
I’m 15 and my lower back curvature has a possibility of increasing, to the point where I might need metal rod surgery on my entire lower back.
Another question, would an MMA career be possible if someone did have metal rod surgery?

8 years ago

Hey just thought I would mention that disc degeneration can be reversed and doesn’t have to be permanent just tell that guy to look into prolotherapy my doctor was told before he had some clients that had disc degeneration and proceeded to warn me about the risk of doing heavy deadlifts and squats just thought I should share this info with the community.

8 years ago

Wow Eric.

Thanks so much! I certainly did not expect a whole blog post on the subject. You really just made my day. It has been doom and gloom for about week for me…. this is the first positive news I have received on the subject. Words truly can’t describe how greatful I am. If you are ever in Ottawa and need anything don’t hesitate to fire me off an e-mail.

Thanks again!

8 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Hope the info helps.

I’m sure I’ll be kicking around that area sometime. When I do I’ll holler.

Ross White
Ross White
8 years ago

Hi Eric,

Great stuff as always. I noticed torres’s posture also I suppose its a habit of being a personal trainer. I must say I had torres for the win in that fight. Although credit where credit is due mcdonald saw an opening and took the oppertunity that was presented.

I comment as something caught my eye in Chris’s email it was the 3 to 1 push/pull workout as I’ve not heard of it. So just thought I would ask?

Keep up the excellent content. Also looking forward to the yoga/flexibility & kicking stuff.
Thanks Eric.

8 years ago
Reply to  Ross White

Check out the INDESTRUCTIBLE Shoulder Guide for more:

Gary George
Gary George
8 years ago

So looking forward to the high kick, and 3D flexibility programs. the yoga program by shapeshifter inc. is awesome! lots of videos and information to check out and incorporate into my training. Thanks Eric!

p.s. How is the Ultimate MMA S&C 2.0 program coming along…any time line on release date?

8 years ago
Reply to  Gary George

Yeah lots of stuff to work with in the Yoga program for sure.

Just on a break from writing Ultimate MMA 2.0 right now… The end of next week the latest!

8 years ago
Reply to  Eric

will ultimate mma 2.0 be a separate program or given as add ons for those with the ultimate mma right now

8 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Great question!