Well, Hello there.
Welcome back to this humble spot, where today, we will talk about one of the cornerstones of MMA. That is, quite literally – Cornering a fighter.
Keep in mind that I am no fighter, but a fight fan and as such I have an opinion based on extensive viewing on the one hand, and somewhat intelligent guess-work on the other.This is not a “How to” or a tutorial. Simply my take on the subject.
I like a good fight. I prefer it when a fight goes on for more than a round or two. I like a finish like the next one, but let’s have it in the third round. Or if it’s a main event – even better. Let’s have it in the fifth. I like a back and forth battle with lots of heart and technique. For me, that’s MMA. A respectful test of skills and strength and the ride is half the fun.
I do my best to pay attention (when the broadcast team allows it) to listen to the corner-men during the breaks between rounds as well as during the rounds in progress. What fascinates me, are the different kinds of cornering. You can see different styles between fight camps, and sometimes, if you pay attention, different flavors even when it’s the same corner-men but a different fighter.
Allow me please to divide the corner-men into 2 big groups. The optimistic and the realistic. That’s where it starts for me. You hear the people in the optimistic group telling the fighter “Good work, you’re ahead, keep going.” and the others may tell the fighter “Not sure how the judges have it, you better push forward on the next round. Take the center.” and so forth.
During the rounds, one can hear the regular calls “Get up!” (Easier said than done I would think), or the ever so popular “Knees!” (Which always sound like a sound advice). I prefer to hear instructions as to HOW to perform these acts, such as “Under hooks!” or “Wizard!“.
I assume that there are fighters who need to hear that they’re doing fine, and that’s ok. I would love to believe that – if I was a fighter – I’d prefer to hear more specific directions.
And that’s what brings me to the action around the fighter during the breaks.
Some of my favorite corner-men are Firas Zahabi and the master of the corner Greg Jackson. It appears to me, that these guys know who they are cornering at any given fight and the instructions, and just as important, the way they are delivered are tailor-made.
Some fighters need the “come on! let’s do this or that! you’re slacking off!” and others need a calm, measured tone and some long deep breaths. Both are ok, because both Zahabi and Jackson don’t throw out buzz-words to fill the silence. They will ask the fighter to start circling left, or right, to finish every combination with a low kick, or perhaps set up his or her takedown attempts with some strikes. I love it when the corner-man gives the fighter the same advice I would – because ego.
I find it counter productive to lie to a fighter. One can see this happening time and time again when a fighter is clearly behind on points, and the corner blatantly tells them their ahead. Either they lie, or they don’t have a handle on what’s going on – which is perhaps the worse possibility… I do believe a fighter should be aware of where he stands realistically. There’s always a positive spin to keep his/her spirits up.
There’s a camp leading up to the fight and that’s very important. But once the fighter is locked inside the cage, I find that sound cornering can make a huge difference. Ask George St. Pierre how important this was for him during his record WW title defense run. Greg Jackson came with a master plan, which he made sure to keep on track on every break. Slowly, calmly, snappy when necessary (“I don’t care George! Hit him with it!” – go ahead, google it), but always concise, always pointing towards success.
What’s your take on cornering? What did I miss here?
And don’t forget to check back here again towards the end of the week, as there will be a UFC196 prediction post, and the fights are going to be awesome!