Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) newcomer, Lina Lansberg, is set to battle with brutal knockout artist, Cris Cyborg, this Saturday (Sept. 24, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 95 inside Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.
Overall, I consider myself rather knowledgeable when it comes to mixed martial arts (MMA). I watch just about every fight on each UFC card — and there are a ton of UFC events nowadays — write about half of them, go to regional fights often, and, of course, train at a high level myself.
Yet, prior to watching last Saturday’s card and seeing some advertisements, I had never heard the name Lina Lansberg.
Like most people who are not from Scandinavia, she’s a completely new face in the sport to me, even if she is set to headline a Fight Night card in her Octagon debut. After watching all the available tape, let’s take a closer look into the Swedish knockout artist’s skill set before she enters the Octagon for the first time.
Lansberg is a relative newcomer to MMA, but she’s an extremely experienced Muay Thai fighter. She’s been competing in that sport since 2006, and even competed with Bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko back in 2010. For a lengthy list of her Muay Thai accomplishments, click HERE!
Lansberg very much fights like the Muay Thai specialist one would expect. Overall, she likes to be on the offensive, forcing her opponent to back up into kicks or remain still and get wrapped up in the clinch.
In terms of boxing, Lansberg is a very measured puncher working out of the Orthodox stance. Her hands aren’t extraordinarily fast or powerful, but she maintains good position and throws smart combinations. First and foremost, the Swedish athlete uses her jab well, sticking her opponent’s head and body to maintain her ideal range.
Outside of the jab, Lansberg commonly looks for her cross and the occasional hook. There’s nothing super complex here, as Lansberg simply stays active and remains in a good stance. To her credit, Lansberg does a nice job of mixing things up and punching to the body. All that said, she is still a bit too stationary, which is a more common style of kickboxing in Muay Thai than MMA.
Lansberg has shown some nice kicking technique. While she doesn’t really commit to attacking her foe’s legs, Lansberg instead looks for her left kick to the head and body. While she’ll occasionally just snap up her lead leg for a quick kick, she generally does a nice job of setting up the kick with a couple punches. She’ll also switch to Southpaw before loading up on the kick. Additionally, she’s prepared if her opponent catches the kick, as Lansberg has followed up the kick with a cross and hurt opponents in the past.
Lansberg also utilizes a nice lead leg teep kick. Rather than try to catch her opponent coming in, Lansberg uses this technique to bounce her opponent backwards and closer to the fence. She absolutely does her best work in the clinch. She does a nice job of punching her way into the clinch, which makes it more difficult to counter her punches. Plus, she’s able to trap her opponent against the fence and more easily control her foe.
Above all else, Lansberg does an excellent job of maintaining good head position. Whether she’s working with an underhook or collar-tie, Lansberg digs her forehead into her opponent’s jaw, trapping her in place. From that position, Lansberg is happy to break her opponent down with knees to the body.
Once Lansberg senses her opponent slowing down, she’ll open up more with her clinch offense. In that situation, Lansberg is extremely aggressive and effective. Backing away just a small step, she’ll frame on her opponent’s arms, pinning her down and preventing most punches. From there, Lansberg will live up to her "Elbow Princess" moniker and start slicing up her foe, or dip off to the side and slam home a hook to the body.
Lansberg, being the striking specialist, is obviously not looking to take down most of her opponents. While she’s never actively looked for a takedown, Lansberg has taken top position several times through scrambles or by dropping her opponent.
A big part of Lansberg’s success in the clinch/on the mat has been her ability to fight for the underhook and circle into the back position. Against Judoka Emma Delany, Lansberg repeatedly countered her opponent’s throw attempts by keeping her hips in good position and circling towards the back.
Defensively, Lansberg seems to be pretty solid in the clinch, as she understands underhooks and posture quite well from her training in Muay Thai. That said, I’ve yet to see her really tested by a real double or single leg takedown, so that’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
There’s perhaps even less tape to study in regard to Lansberg’s jiu-jitsu. Again, the only extended grappling that occurred in her fights came against Delany, who she mostly reversed by digging underhooks and bridging her hips at the proper moment. At one point, she was put flat on her back but did a nice job of keeping her opponent off her from full guard.
Like her wrestling ability, Lansberg’s submission skills are definitely a major question mark heading into this bout.
This is definitely a unique set of circumstances. Lansberg has the type of decorated striking background that has served other female fighters incredibly well, but she’s really being thrown to the wolves here. That said, if she wins this bout, she’s an instant contender at Bantamweight -- even though this is a 140-pound Catchweight bout -- and has really thrown a wrench into UFC’s general plans for Cyborg.
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.