The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 winner, Corey Anderson, will throw down with English knockout artist, Jimi Manuwa, this Saturday (March 18, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 107 inside The 02 Arena in London, England.
Anderson made his Octagon debut in 2014 with just three fights to his name. Despite the inexperience, he quickly dominated his opponent to win TUF. He won his next fight soundly as well before suffering a come-from-behind setback to Gian Villante in his sixth professional fight. Since then, Anderson has scored four wins in five appearances, with the sole loss a split-decision to former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. In just his fourth year as a professional, Anderson has proven himself a Top 10 caliber talent and shown solid improvement between fights.
Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:
Anderson may be fairly new to kickboxing compared to many of his peers, but he’s become a capable striker quickly. The influence of coach Mark Henry is pretty clear, as Anderson brings the style of movement and activity known from that camp into the cage each time. Anderson fights like one of the many talented, but smaller, men of his camp despite his large build and obvious strength, which is what I decided to take a look at in this week’s technique highlight.
Anderson has been able to succeed despite his relative inexperience because of his obvious athletic gifts. He’s one of the rare men who can boast to have one of the bigger frames in his division as well as perhaps the deepest gas tank, which is a formidable combination.
From the outside, Anderson works the jab often. He frequently pumps out double jabs and dips to the body, looking to establish his range before moving onto other punches. When he does remember to kick, Anderson can chop at his opponent’s legs or slam home an effective shot to the body. Once Anderson has figured out his distance, he’ll begin to fire off a quick cross. Still working from the outside, Anderson lands with a few shots — such as the aforementioned jab-right body-left hook — before taking a step back out of range.
“Overtime” will commit to stepping into punches as well. Opposite “Shogun,” Anderson did a very nice job of stepping deep into the right hand and immediately rolling. Whether Rua countered or not, he was often in range for the rising left hook that was coming his way.
In the pocket, Anderson is prone to the occasional defensive mistake. Sometimes, he hangs out at boxing range a bit too long, leaving him in range for the haymakers of Rua and Villante. A more frequent issue is that Anderson is susceptible to low kicks due to his constant circling.
One of the more underrated aspects of Anderson’s attack is his clinch game. Anderson often wrestles against the fence, but sometimes the takedown isn’t there. In that case, Anderson will drive his foe up into the fence, controlling an underhook and maintaining good head position. With his free hand, he’ll hammer at his opponent’s body and smack the nose. Additionally, Anderson will latch onto the double-collar tie given the opportunity. He does solid work with knees from there and will also look to land short elbows. On the break, Anderson actively looks to land as well. In short, it’s another competent part of Anderson’s game that capitalizes on his conditioning.
A collegiate wrestler, Anderson’s wrestling ability has been the backbone of his success. He averages over four takedowns per 15 minutes in the cage, which is among the highest in his division.
It’s hard to really give a detailed look at Anderson’s wrestling simply because he is so varied in his approach. He’s opportunistic, willing to convert a caught kick into a quick takedown or use a reactive double leg to counter an opponent’s overhand. At the same time, Anderson will duck into a shot off his jab or use his right hand to step deep into a takedown attempt. Whether he’s the one initiating or reacting, Anderson is capable both in the center of the cage and against the fence with both double- and single-leg takedowns.
Once Anderson in on a shot, he’s a definite handful. Anderson can finish in the open but will often drive his foe into the fence, where it’s easier to transition between shots. If he’s unable to lift, dump, or snatch up an ankle, Anderson will move into the clinch to throw some punches before level changing to try again.
From top position, Anderson is definitely skilled at controlling foes and wearing them out. Sometimes, though, he struggles to do meaningful damage. For the most part, it tends to be a question of whether or not Anderson can pass the guard. If he does, Anderson lands hard punches and elbows while tying up his opponent’s arms and will punish attempts to recover guard or stand. If not, Anderson will simply chip away with small shots.
In his last fight, Anderson really brutalized Sean O’Connell from top position, so there’s some clear improvement in that area.
Anderson has yet to attempt a submission inside the Octagon and has never been put in any real danger, either. His skills and limitations in this area are pretty impossible to determine, but a more developed grappling game — or simply relying on it more — could make Anderson a bigger finishing threat on the mat.
A good deal of Anderson’s wins have been clear, but slightly uninspiring, decision victories. Because of this, “Overtime” tends to not be considered as a true contender despite his success. In his first main event slot, Anderson can prove those doubters wrong, as he has a full 25 minutes to showcase his skill and work toward a finish. Anderson is made for long fights, and this could be a turning point for the up-and-comer.
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.