The Plague of the Flat Footed Fighter

I’ve been watching MMA for almost 10 years now…

And the cool thing is that because it’s such a diverse sport you always see something new and there’s always something to learn and because I love constantly learning and think it’s a key to success in ANYTHING you do, it’s a perfect match for me.

On the strength and conditioning side of things, there are just as many physical attributes needed as there are different martial arts to learn.

One of those attributes that is critically important to being able to attack without taking a lot of damage is quickness.

The thing is, you still see a lot of fighters in the UFC and other top organizations, lumbering around the cage with heavy feet like a Zombie looking for a meal.

Once they’re in distance, they’ll throw their combos, but after their combo is done, they remain in front of their opponent!

This gives you a golden opportunity, because if top UFC fighters are a lot slower than they need to be, you can be guys you meet in smaller shows or your training partners will be even slower, allowing you to quickly surpass them, once you discover the right methods.

But there are also some fighters who are lightning quick.

Guys like UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar defines quickness.

He gets in quickly, throws his combos, then quickly gets out of harm’s way, confusing and frustrating his opponents.

Think of his 2 fights against BJ Penn – he was able to control the fight against BJ Penn, who is thought by many to have some of the best hands in MMA and be one of the most talented mixed martial artists ever, largely because of his quickness, which allowed him to hit BJ then get out of range and avoid serious damage and win the belt.

How much of a better fighter would you be if you possessed this ability – to move in, hit, then move out before your opponent realizes what happened?But how many MMA fighters train specifically to develop this fight-dominating physical attribute?

And more importantly, do you work on developing this key ability?

Even of those that do, there are 2 major problems I see stopping fighters from ever developing killer quickness…

Number ONE occurs because MMA is a combat sport and attracts a lot of people with the ‘tough guy’ mentality, the mindset that a lot of athletes have is that a workout is only effective if it makes you puke.

YES, you must work hard to get results.

I’m not saying you can be lazy and get into top shape, far from it.

But I am saying that sometimes, quality is more important than quantity (volume) and fatigue isn’t the only measure of an effective workout.

When it comes to quickness training, you must feed your nervous system good programming.

Your nervous system is what encodes your ability to maintain proper balance, which allows you to fire up the motor patterns needed to rapidly change directions.

If your only methods of training involve you ‘feeling the burn’ and killing yourself, you’ll never reach your quickness potential.

Number TWO is the lack of a systematic, progressive approach to training.

A lot of guys go into the gym, then think, “Hmmmmm, what do I feel like doing today?”

If this is you, you must, Must, MUST follow a program.

I don’t care if you write it on a piece of toilet paper – know what you’re going to do before you get in the gym and make sure you track your progress so you know you’re getting results.

When it comes to quickness development for MMA, you need the right exercises, put together in a properly designed program, that takes you where you are now and progresses you forward.

Lifting the same weights for the same number of reps doesn’t do you any good.

To make progress, well, you’ve got to make progress!

In the next article, I’m going to share one of my favourite drills for improving footwork and your ability to navigate the cage quickly.

For now, I want you to tell me who you think the quickest MMA fighter is and what fight they really showed it in the Comments section below.

guest
23 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ben
Ben
9 years ago

Jose Aldo is by far the fastest. His striking is lightning quick and nobody seems to know how to handle it or even see it coming, and we all know with speed comes power. How do you defend something you can’t see? I truly believe he is the best pound for pound in the world.

PeterM
PeterM
9 years ago

I’d say Dominick Cruz in all his fights, especially with Benavidez. It seems like his footwork is a little excessive, but hey, it works for him and he’s the champion in his division. He’s got the stamina to keep the pace high for 5 five-minute rounds, so props to him.

Filip
Filip
9 years ago

Machida. It is the typical `get in get out` of karate type fighters. MMA fighters will learn this. I just wish that most karate fighters would learn from MMA.

Big A
Big A
9 years ago

A lot of fighters mentioned here but who also comes to mind is Mark Hominick. He is very elusive fighter. Gets in his shots and is gone. Dominick Cruz as well. A lot of these feather and bantam weights are lightening quick. That’s what makes them so exciting. Their speed matched with technique is awesome to watch.

Big A
Big A
9 years ago
Reply to  Big A

Rashad is very fast for his weight class as well. Explosive.

Joe Murphy
9 years ago

I think Machida was insane and perfected the inside strike then get out of harms way from opponent as before his fights with Shogun he was the least hit in all of cage fighting.May I say I’m happy to see Cain Velasquez win to become the first Mexican heavyweight but look for yourselves.When you replay the fight over and over you see Cain punched Brock in the back of the head(Illegal rabbit punches)every so often then when referee is in sight Cain punches the side of Brock’s head. Just being honest.Look and you’ll see one every two or three punches Cain throws wackes Brock square in the back of the head.I think it may be why Brock spun around three times with his equilibrium all messed up.Those punches really mess you up even one makes you unable to stand for at least a few minutes.I guess a w is a… Read more »

Jake
Jake
9 years ago
Reply to  Joe Murphy

What? He was wobbled by an uppercut as he went for a sloppy shot, watched it a few times and only saw one punch that was even close to the back of the head and it was as lesnar was turning away(something you should never do) and going down

jeff mann
jeff mann
9 years ago

Andeson Silva, Frankie Edgar, for sure. Great article Eric!

Tim
Tim
9 years ago

Wow anderson silva duh, footwork master and makes a fool out of anyone he fights thats not on steroids!

Tim
Tim
9 years ago

Jose Aldo, i agree, granted he weighs next to nothing lol.

On that same note id like to put St. Pierre in there, i mean the guy is a stacked 170 and he is always on his toes. One second you are standing with the guy and the next you are either getting punched in the face or on your back! Good example of this is the fight against Josh K. Not only is he quick but explosive as well.

Eric
9 years ago
Reply to  Tim

GSP I wouldn’t categorize as quick – more powerful. Don’t get me wrong he’s quick as heck too, but he doesn’t get in and out as quick as some of the other guys in terms of controlling the distance, he’s quick to attack, but it’s usually his attack hurts the other opponent so they don’t fire back versus him attacking, hitting, then changing angles or avoiding.

Tim
Tim
9 years ago
Reply to  Eric

Ah i get it now he doesn’t necessarily use his quickness to avoid danger because he is usually the one controlling the pace and doing damage. Id like to throw Clay guida’s name in there, he is definitely not the most technically sound fighter out there but in terms of footwork and using angles he is constantly moving and keeping his opponents on their toes.

ken
ken
9 years ago

Jose Aldo from the WEC – in his last title defense he was throwing leg kicks and hand combinations so fast it was unbelievable

Eric
9 years ago
Reply to  ken

Oh yeah no doubt Aldo is quick as heck – speaking of the WEC there are a lot of quick guys from those smaller categories, but Dominic Cruz is definitely one of the quickest and most unorthodox – that guy bounces in so fast and bounces out, not only with quickness but also with power.

Kim Bennett
Kim Bennett
9 years ago

I think Frankie Edgar is one of the quickest fighters out there. I picked him to be a world champ the first time I saw him fight against Tyson Griffin. In the Heavyweights you have to pick Cain he total beat Brock with his speed/quickness.

calvin
9 years ago

why the hate for the Korean Zombie like that? One of the most exciting fighters out there? -j/k

Eric
9 years ago
Reply to  calvin

Bahahahaha the Korean Zombie is your typical flat footed fighter – just stumbles around the cage throwing bombs!! Hell of a chin though.

Nick
Nick
9 years ago

As for the quickest MMA fighter, I would not know who to choose because there are quite a few guys that are quite quick. However, Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard was the first to pop in my head. It’s probably because his speed was what determined to get him the split decision win against Jeremy Stephens in UFC 119. He was quite springy on his feet and moved in the right time to attack. When Stephens tried to attack back, Guillard sprung back out and Stephens was pretty much just kicking air for most of the fight. I don’t remember that much of the fight, but that is as much as I remembered.

Eric
9 years ago
Reply to  Nick

Dark horse – I totally forgot about him when writing this but yes he is quick!

Andrew
Andrew
9 years ago

If you watched Matt Hamill’s fight against Ortiz this past saturday you saw some lightning quick reactions. Ortiz’s face was beaten to a pulp and Hamil’s looked like new! Hamil got in and out quickly without Ortiz landing anything significant. Throughout the fight you could see Hamil jumping around the ring and Ortiz just standing there waiting for Hamil to come to him. Twice during the fight Hamil demonstrated his lightning fast reactions when Ortiz went in for a hook and Hamil ducked and took him down around the waist. Although he has a pretty unorthodox style he is wicked fast and deadly in the ring.

Eric
9 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

I don’t know if I would agree with this one – just because you’re faster than someone who barely moves doesn’t make you wicked fast. Just look what Bones did to him.

travis
travis
9 years ago

well if you want to talk about closing the gap and getting out with out getting hurt, and define that as quickness Frankie Edgar showed he has mastered that in his two most recent fights how ever Machida has built a career on doing that. while Frankie has extremely fast hands and great head movement, he has to set up in combos with a strike that in my opinion is meant to miss so he can close that gap while on the other hand Machida bounds in with a extremely accurate strike and might through a few more and is out before you even know what happened. So with that said i would have to say Machida is one of the fastest fighters around.

Eric
9 years ago
Reply to  travis

No doubt – Machida is on my list. He reminded me of Bruce Lee the first few times I saw him in terms of his footwork.