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Jabbing Distance Breakdown with Cain Velasquez

Jabbing Distance Breakdown with Cain Velasquez


One of the toughest aspects of fighting for both new and experienced fighters is the creation or elimination of distance. This is in art that has to be timed perfectly to both attack and defend effectively. You need to close distance to get into the pocket to attack, however you do not want to overstay your welcome there. Additionally there are definitely both right and wrong ways to go about adjusting your distance.

It goes almost without saying, but footwork is one of the most important aspects of changing distance. Saying in a proper fighting stance and not taking regular steps forward and backward where you cross your feet is imperative. Quickly jumping into the pocket, landing a few punches and then getting out is what you are looking for.

One of the most commonly used ways to close distance and set up attacks is with the jab. Taking a step into the pocket while simultaneously throwing a jab is a great way to get in, use your momentum to start making an angle, and quickly work some attacks. This basic idea is used at the highest levels of fighting, and leaves plenty of opportunity to get creative with attacks.

In this video, Cain Velasquez breaks down the idea of jabbing distance, and gives a number of examples and explanations on how it can be used. Check it out below!


Professional wrestler and retired mixed martial artist Cain Velasquez is most known for his time in the UFC, where he coined the title of two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. With a 17-3 professional mixed martial arts record, Cain has played a huge part in bringing publicity to the UFC. In UFC 121 in his fight against Brock Lesnar, UFC brought back UFC Primetime to promote the fight. Cain was victorious against Brock Lesnar by means of a first round knockout, earning the Knockout of the Night honor.

Get more striking tips from MMA Great Cain Velasquez! Click Learn More!



Cain’s fighting style has been described as “swarming”, as he constantly moves forward giving his opponents very little space to land strikes, while he lands powerful combinations. As this has been the highlight of his fighting career, who better to lean jab distancing from then him!

To begin setting yourself up to land combinations begins with distance. Cain reiterates that if you are not currently throwing punches, you should not be in punching distance and should be moving around and utilizing good head movement. This is a great place to get a feel for your opponent's movements and start judging his timing to coordinate your attack.

From here Cain begins to describe the importance of using the jab from this position to keep your opponent guessing. Aside from the damage of landing the jab, it can also be used to keep something in the face of your opponent so you can distract him and shoot for a leg, or use it as a means of level changing by striking to the body and then coming back up top.

According to Cain, “the jab is essential”. He states that it is essential for distance, for setting up combinations, and having a quick and strong jab makes your whole repertoire extremely dangerous. Cain makes the important point that as soon as you do get into punching distance, you immediately have to either throw or move, and after you throw you have to move again. In order to be the one controlling the fight, you can not be in the pocket not throwing punches, you must land your combination and get out before your opponent has the opportunity to counter. This allows you to effectively control the pace of the fight.

When outside of the striking distance, in order to get into the pocket you can use the jab. The power from that jab comes out of your feet, pushing yourself forward with your back leg. Cain says that when using his jab from here, he wants his arm to be elongated as much as possible and locked out at the end of the punch. The reason for this is again, distance. If you go in for the jab and your arm is bent and not fully elongated, that means you have to step in closer to land it, giving your opponent a better change of countering you. The further away you can stay from your opponent while landing a jab, the less likely he is to be able to hit you back. Also not to mention that when your arm is bent, it absorbs the power of your punch by bending your elbow as opposed to keeping your elbow locked and keeping all the power at the end of your fist.

When in a fight, energy is precious. This means you have to be as effective as possible throughout the duration of the fight. If you are throwing half jabs without your maximum power, you are going to have to throw more of them to equal the damage you would be inflicting by throwing an elongated jab, hence using more energy than necessary. 

One step towards conserving your energy is making your step in fast. Cain compares this to a fencing lunge, as they dive in with the sword to land a strike and then jump back to get out of the way. He states this should be the same technique when fighting, but adding head movement to make yourself a difficult target.

This is such a large amount of extremely technical information packed into just a small snippet of his instructional. What else you can expect to find in his instructional includes basic jabbing concepts, connecting with power, body mechanics, landing in good positions, and putting it all together. If you feel like you are getting beat in your sparring matches by improper distance and are looking for ways to efficiently get in and out of the pocket while attacking and minimizing damage, then Cain Velasquez is your guy. 

Fundamentals of Power Punching by Cain Velasquez

Do yourself a favor and take full advantage of everything he has to offer. Check out his instructional here!