The Knockdown by Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson
If you are a mixed martial arts fan and keep up with the UFC, then you likely remember UFC 217 in Madison Square Garden in 2017, where Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Jorge Masvidal went head to head.
Their records at the time were Thompson with a record of 14-2-1 and Masdival with a record of 32-13 in MMA, and both brought their share of experience to the octagon. However after a three round decision fight, it was clear that Thompson dominated each round.
It was no surprise that the judges decision went to Thompson for every round. Thompson looked sharp throughout the whole fight and landed a huge number of kicks. He did an excellent job of keeping distance between himself and Masvidal between his footwork and using side kicks and teeps. Thompson landed a major kick to the head, and sent Masdival to the ground with a side kick to the torso.
Perhaps most notably, in the second round Thompson landed a one-two combination that caused Masvidal to lose his feet. In this clip from his instructional, Thompson breaks down the technique of his combination that dropped Masdival.
The combination includes a jab, a step outside to create an angle, and a right cross to the head. In the video Wonderboy first talks about knowing that Masvidal likes to use a jab. Knowing this he figured that when he threw a jab, Masdival was likely going to throw one back and he immediately slips to the right when he throws his jab.
At this point Thompson used his momentum from the slip to step off to the right side creating an angle. Consequently Masvidal left himself uncovered and open by throwing a jab at the same time. Thompson quickly took advantage of his positioning and the opening that Masvidal created by finishing the combination with a right cross to the ear.
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Thompson goes on to explain that the three places he likes to aim for when striking the face is the tip of the chin, the jaw line, or the ear. Thompson recalls from experience that getting hit in the ear is quite discombobulating, and he believes this is what sent Masvidal to the ground.
Going on in the video, Thompson begins to break down the more technical parts of the combination. After the jab he states that where a lot of people make mistakes is when they take that step to the outside to create an angle. What he commonly sees is that after taking that step, people turn their body towards their partner and square up with them. Doing that takes all the power out of the right cross because you are already halfway rotated towards your partner and are no longer loaded up.
It is important that when you take that side step your shoulder is in a straight line facing forward, which keeps it loaded and gives you the most distance to put a ton of power into it. Thompson also explains that his strategy is to leave his jab out there a little bit longer than usual to keep something in the face of his opponent and to attempt to keep them occupied with that. In addition, keeping that jab out there for a longer time also somewhat hides that cross that you are loading up to quickly finish the combination with.
Thompson explains that when sparring and working on distance management drills, he recommends occasionally throwing in this combination. The reason for this is that you can use that outside step to the right to keeping circling around your partner and stay away from their power hand.
Stephen began training both kickboxing and karate at the age of three, and was competing in both sports by the age of fifteen. He holds numerous World Champion and Amateur World Champion titles in kickboxing, and has a 15-4-1 mixed martial arts record. He has been fighting in the UFC since 2012 and has always been known to put on a show. Stephen also went undefeated in nearly 60 amateur and professional kickboxing fights in a row. Needless to say, he has an answer for almost anything you could be struggling with in the mixed martial arts world.
Throughout his instructional he covers footwork and distance techniques, as well as workouts that anyone can use to become a much trickier and less predictable striker. He also takes you through a series of drills that he uses himself to get prepared to take on some of the best strikers in the business.
Stephen Thompson is a long-time top UFC welterweight contender, undefeated pro kickboxer, and a pioneer in MMA striking. If you are at all interested in improving your game, you can not go wrong by spending some time with this instructional.