An awesome interview by Daniel woirin who was an awesome and underrated MT champ from france. Breaks down the technical aspect of the fight (with a surprising conclusion) and grades the striking of MMA fighters. Hopefully that last part will put an end to the notion of some guys having dynamic standup when they actually suck.
French Muay Thai Coach Daniel Woirin, who trained Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Rogerio Nogueira, Paulo Thiago among other prominent Brazilian MMA fighters, breaks down the Machida vs. Shogun fight. He explains Machida's mistakes in the first fight, why he got hit repeatedly and couldn't counter effectively, Shogun's strategy and gives us his toughts on the rematch.
The original interview in French can be found here.
Riddum: Machida got leg kicked repeatedly by Shogun in their fight. On a purely technical level, how would you explain this? What mistakes did he make?
Lyoto comes from Karate, he's not used to checking leg kicks. I think he should have used front kicks, a technique he mastered. It would have been easier for him since Shogun was kicking with a very high guard and he was leaving openings on his body.
Closing the distance in order to clinch would also be an interesting solution, but Lyoto is more comfortable from a long range.
Important: blocking or checking a kick remains the most effective technique to neutralize them.
Riddum: "The Dragon" is known for his counters on leg kicks, especially with straight lefts. He knew that Shogun was coming into this fight with a great kicking game. Why couldn't he counter effectively in this particular fight?
Daniel Woirin: When I trained Lyoto Machida for Sokoudjou, I noticed that when Sokoudjou kicks, he stays right in front of his opponent. It was easier to counter him, since punches are faster than kicks.
Against Shogun, it was different. He was side stepping while kicking, so he wouldn't stay in front of Lyoto, making the counters more difficult. Also there was something else, which is pretty unorthodox in Muay Thai: he was kicking with a closed guard, without extending his arm, a bit like they do in Savate. And that limited the openings for counters even more.
Riddum: What can Lyoto do in the rematch in order to neutralize Shogun's leg kicks?
Daniel Woirin: The best solution would be to check them but the problem is, if he does that, he would have to go out of his game. If you want the leg checks to be effective, you need to have your feet planted on the ground. You cannot block while moving.
Lyoto cannot wait for Shogun's actions. He needs to take the initiative and concentrate on what he has to do. He can utilize front kicks. Side stepping while attacking can be a good solution for him as well, or he can close the distance to work the clinch. I think one of the keys to his victory will be his ability to do these and nullify Shogun's kicks.
Riddum: Like you said, Lyoto is more comfortable from a long range, but we get the impression from your answers that he will struggle to neutralize Shogun's leg kicks from there because of his Karate background and Shogun's side to side movements while kicking, etc. So my question is, do you think Machida will be able to neutralize Shogun's leg kicks from a long range? You had suggested the front kick but realistically, I don't think that Machida could/will throw so many of them for 5 rounds.
Lyoto, as for most Karate practitioners, isn't used to being hit in the face. He comes in to strike, then goes back out quickly to be out of range. In Muay Thai, we work from a lot closer.
The paradox is since he's going to come from far and he'll expose himself as well, Shogun will anticipate and counter him with punches and kicks. Thus Lyoto will have to feint, utilize his speed and have technical variation in order to catch Shogun off guard. A real headache...This is the first time Lyoto is facing an opponent who's kicking so much! In my opinion, Lyoto's offenses will quickly determine the fight.
To answer your question, the long range is where he feels the most comfortable, even knowing that he'll have to expose himself. For the front kicks, it depends on his training. I know that he's been working a lot on this technique in Belem.
Riddum: In an interview, Andre Dida, Shogun's Muay Thai coach, said something like he wished Machida would switch his style because it would create more openings for Shogun. Do you agree with him?
Daniel Woirin: He isn't wrong. On a technical and tactical level, I don't think Lyoto is going to change things around drastically. And anyway, when the fight gets tougher, you go back to your roots! The rematch will come down to the mental aspect, the fighters' emotional control.
Riddum: For those who gave the first fight to Machida, there are some who argue that Shogun didn't deserve the victory because “leg kicks don't finish fights.” Do you agree with this statement?
Daniel Woirin: Leg kicks don't finish fights?! I disagree. The leg kick is a very effective technique. Look at the "Aldo vs. Faber" fight for instance. Faber survived because he is a warrior but if you look at the fight, the kicks made the difference for Aldo.
Now it also depends on the judging criteria. In Muay Thai for example, kicks score more points than punches.
Riddum: How do you see the rematch going striking wise (cage dynamics, fighters' game plans, etc.)?
Daniel Woirin: Shogun will be composed with his boxing, he'll continue to kick in order to take away Lyoto's legs and slow down his movement, which will make him more vulnerable. He will accelerate the rhythm at the end of each round in order to impress the judges.
As for Lyoto, I think that all this controversy around his win left a sour taste in his mouth and he'll be more offensive and try to show his superiority. He'll work from a long range and bank on his offense and speed. He'll have to feint in order to stay unpredictable and be able to surprise Shogun.
To me, this fight will come down to the each fighter's emotional control. Let me explain: on a technical and tactical level, I don't think there will be much of a difference, but there will be one on an emotional level. Shogun comes from Chute Boxe, a school where you are taught to have an aggressive and always coming forward style. If you look back on his last two fights, he was a lot more focused and he managed to stick to his game plan until the end. This is what caught Machida off guard, as he was expecting a more aggressive Shogun who would expose himself a lot more.
So I would say that if Machida wants to win this fight, he needs to come up with something that will affect Shogun emotionally, in order to get openings.
As for Mauricio Shogun, if he stays focused until the end of the fight, doesn't deviate from his game plan, and presses more at the end of each round, he will win this fight.
Riddum: What do you believe is the most under-utilized striking technique in MMA?
Daniel Woirin: There are several but the elbow strike is an under-utilized technique and not mastered, especially in the clinch.
If you had to rate these MMA fighters out of 10 for their striking technique, what would you give to:
Junior dos Santos?
Georges St. Pierre?
Riddum thanks you for doing this interview.