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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC TUF 24 Finale’s Tim Elliott

MMAmania.com resident fighter analyst -- and aspiring professional fighter -- Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 Finale headliner Tim Elliott, who looks to shock the world this Saturday (Dec. 23, 2016) inside Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24: "Tournament of Champions" winner, Tim Elliott, will throw down with divisional kingpin, Demetrious Johnson, this Saturday (Dec. 3, 2016) at TUF 24 Finale in "The Pearl" inside Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Elliott’s first run inside the Octagon didn’t exactly go as planned, but Elliott really did show his talent in several close losses to some of the division’s best fighters. His release was something of a surprise, and may thought he was dropped too soon. Since then, Elliott proved his supporters right. The wrestler won three straight bouts on the regional scene — capturing and defending the Titan FC belt — before winning four more bouts on TUF to earn his title shot.

Basically, Elliott has won his last seven bouts. And while he may not have earned his shot in a conventional manner, he’s an interesting challenger for "Mighty Mouse."

Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:

Striking

Elliott is a truly bizarre fighter from a technical standpoint, and that’s never more obvious than when he’s striking. That’s not to say he’s ineffective, but Elliott’s style would work for few men other than him. Breaking down individual techniques is hard, and not even Elliott knows precisely what he’s going to do next. Instead, he sort of flows around and occasionally invents attacks as they come to mind.

That random awkwardness does make him dangerous.

The first thing to note about Elliott is that he doesn’t really have a set stance. Often, Elliott is walking down his opponent with his hands low and head forward, baiting his opponent to exchange. While moving, Elliott very commonly steps back-and-forth between Orthodox and Southpaw, choosing to avoid any conventional movement for as long as possible.

On the offensive, Elliott is a wild man. Once he finally gets into range, he’ll throw quite literally anything. Sometimes, he’s firing off straight punches or a combination of hooking shots. In other situations, Elliott defies all standard punching technique, smacking at his opponent with hammer fists and arm punches that help confuse his foe.

One of his favorite techniques is the calf kick. I took a closer look at that technique in the video below.

A few extraordinary traits allow Elliott to fight so strangely. First and foremost, he’s durable as hell. Elliott has eaten some very clean and very hard fists and shins because of his style, but it rarely seems to have much of an effect on him. Additionally, Elliott does not get tired. He routinely pushes a harder pace than his opponents, and that frees him up to get weird. If he actually had to worry about his conditioning, he would probably manage his energy more.

Perhaps most important is Elliott’s wrestling. A big, strong Flyweight, Elliott is an excellent offensive wrestler. No matter how odd he’s moving and attacking, his opponent can never feel safe from the threat of the takedown. Lastly, Elliott just doesn’t give a fuck (GIF).

While moving forward, Elliott does do his best to move his head. He’s not bad at avoiding blows, but putting his face in the danger zone so often is still a recipe to get hit. One of the most effective parts of Elliott’s game is his ability to land clinch knees. He routinely gets into wild scrambles or collides with his opponent due to his random movement, and he generally gets the better of those clinch exchanges (GIF).

Wrestling

A state champion wrestler in high school and D-1 competitor in college, Elliott has proven to be a very solid wrestler inside the Octagon. He’s taken down some of the division’s best wrestlers, as Elliott’s odd style and wiry strength make him a unique wrestler.

Offensively, Elliott is a very skilled takedown artist. His odd movement and constant bobs and weaves often allowed him to duck under his opponent’s punches into a deep double or single leg. From either position, Elliott can dump or lift his foe, and he transitions between both takedowns smoothly (GIF).

Elliott’s strength seems to surprise his opponents. When he rushes forward, he’s often able to knock his opponent’s off-balance and finish takedowns. His odd timing really helps catch his opponent’s off-guard, and his physical strength/technical skill are enough to finish the takedown once in on his foe’s hips (GIF).

Elliott’s clinch is another big aspect of his takedown game, and he often goes to it directly after a failed takedown. While moving up into the clinch, Elliott will drive forward and throw his opponent with an outside trip.

From top position, Elliott is relentless. He prioritizes volume above all else, whacking his opponent with small strikes and elbows constantly. It doesn’t matter to Elliott if he’s not postured up and able to really land hard blows, as Elliott will just keep breaking his foe down until he’s able to take a more dominant position.

The best example of Elliott’s relentless ground work came opposite Louis Gaudinot, as Elliott overpowered him to the mat and landed 270 strikes in just 15 minutes. Feel free to do the math on your own, but that’s a seriously high level of activity.

Defensively, Elliott has some issues. Namely, he gets himself completely out of position on the feet, and that means a well-timed takedown will most likely put him on his back. For the most part, Elliott is such a talented scrambler that he gets away with it. When put on his back, Elliott quickly wall-walks, latches onto the neck, or grabs an underhook and transitions into a takedown attempt of his own.

However, those takedowns still count. The best example came opposite Zach Makovsky, who had a decent amount of success controlling Elliott on the mat. Elliott out-landed his opponent two-to-one, but his opponent’s six takedowns and top control time cost him the victory.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Elliott is a blue belt in jiu-jitsu and packs some aggressive front chokes into his game. He’s submitted five of his opponents professionally, and he finished two of his opponents on TUF as well.

Like many other wrestlers, Elliott loves to hang on his opponent’s neck and hunt for the submission. After breaking down his opponent into the turtle position, Elliott will hunt for the guillotine, d’arce and any other variations of the front choke. He’s more than willing to pull guard to finish the holds, and Elliott is often able to regain top position if he cannot land the tapout.

Elliott likes to hunt for the guillotine from top position as well. From half-guard, Elliott will latch onto his opponent’s neck and work to pass. If his opponent attempts to sweep or stand, but Elliott can counter those attempts by cranking on the neck. Alternatively, if he’s able to pass, he can threaten with a mounted guillotine.

Additionally, Elliott really likes to use the crucifix position. From turtle, Elliott looks to catch one of his opponent’s arms and trap it with his legs. Afterward, Elliott will keep attacking with punches and hunt for the rear naked choke.

Conclusion

At this point, there’s no contender who will be favored opposite "Mighty Mouse." Elliott proved his worth in UFC and on the show, and there’s certainly no one stranger to challenge the champion. He may not win, but he’s far from the least deserving of Johnson’s title challengers.

*****

Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, is an undefeated amateur fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport's most elite fighters.

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