How To Close The Gap With Your Jab Like Former UFC Heavyweight Champ Cain Velasquez
Throughout a fighter’s career, they will typically throw more jabs than any other punch in their arsenal. Its versatility is unparalleled—the jab can be used to get a better feel for how your opponent moves, it can be used to create space while wearing down the opposition and it can close the gap if the opponent is trying to stay out of striking range. Most importantly, the jab can be used to set up your opponent for that powerful knockout shot thrown with your dominant hand.
Throwing The Jab
“Your jab is your setup to stronger things...your jab is the setup to the knockout punch. Your jab keeps him guessing. Put things in his face and then shoot for the leg,” Velasquez said. “The jab is an essential weapon for distance, for setting up your stuff. So, having a fast jab [that’s] quick and strong just makes your whole repertoire extremely dangerous.”
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A jab is thrown with your non-dominant hand (left hand for orthodox stance / right hand for a southpaw) and doesn’t usually have the same punching power as your dominant hand. But what the jab lacks in power, it makes up with versatility if you throw it right.
You’ll want to throw your jab starting from a bladed stance and pushing off with your back foot while stepping forward with your lead foot and then quickly striking. Make sure to turn your hips and upper body into the jab to make the punch more effective. Your arm should be fully extended at the point of impact.
“As I push off, my jab hand is going to be thrown and I’m going to try and elongate it as much as possible, “Velasquez said.” My straight punches...I want them to be elongated and I want my arm to be locked out at the end of the punch. This all has to do with distance.”
The champ cautions against being too close when throwing your jab or straight punch. If you hit the opponent while your elbow isn’t locked out, your shoulder area will act as a shock absorber for the punch instead of all the power being transferred to your opponent’s face. Too many bad shots thrown like that and you might be sidelined with an injury.
“You hit your opponent, but I wouldn’t say you hit them with all your power. There’s a lot of power lost in here [pointing to his shoulder area],” Velasquez said. “With each strike, with each takedown, you want to be as effective as possible without wasting energy you don’t have to waste.”
Stick And Move
Velasquez said you should be trying to move like a fencer to make your jabs more effective while conserving your energy—quickly strike while your arm is fully extended and pull back. But, the champ said to add head movement as you pull back to dodge whatever counterpunch your opponent might be throwing back at you.
“You come in and hit and come back and your head is there [center] the whole time, my opponent is going to know,” Velasquez said. “It’s [your head] is still target and he knows if he reaches a little bit...or he’s going to get that timing if he reads it and you are going to be in big trouble.”
After throwing your jab, take a step back and keep circling using good footwork. It’s crucial to move your head out of the way of incoming counterpunches so be aware of your head movement, as well, said Velasquez.
“Always have this in your mind when you do get in punching distance...right away either you have to throw or you move...and after you throw, you have to move, ” Velasquez said. “After I go in and hit...I’m not going to stay there to let him counterstrike me. I’m not going to stay there to admire my work.”
Velasquez said you should be controlling the pace of the fight, not your opponent. Quick footwork after your jab—or combo—not only gets you back to safety, it exhausts your opponents by forcing them to come to you while trying to recover after your last flurry of punches.
Who Is Cain Velasquez?
Two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez is best known for his performance in UFC 121 against then-heavyweight champion Brock Lesner, which Velasquez dispatched in the first round of their match. Velasquez is also known for his rematch against Junior Dos-Santos in UFC 155 by unanimous decision. The champ retired from MMA in 2019 to become a professional wrestler with the WWE. Velasquez holds a black belt in jiu-jitsu and is a former Arizona State University Division 1 NCAA Wrestler.
Want to develop better striking techniques and learn how to throw powerful punches that win matches? Check out “Fundamentals Of Punching Power By Cain Velasquez” and other great instructionals available at DynamicStriking.com!