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UFC Greenville, The Morning After: Range control is king

UFC Greenville will not be remembered for much outside of the main event. It was a low-profile event mostly featuring fighters that are on their way up or on their way out. There were few ranked fighters or must-see fights, few bouts that would draw the eyes of mainstream fans, which is probably why both Bellator and Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship felt confident in competing with the premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.

Luckily, that did not mean it was a bad event. Most of the bouts went to the judges, but a great deal of them provided solid, back-and-forth action across the 15 minutes. Interestingly, one of the trends of the card seemed to be the battle of reach and range, as shorter athletes repeatedly attempted to close distance opposite their taller foes with varying degrees of success.

It began in the very first bout of the evening, when Daniel Cormier protege Deron Winn made his debut opposite Eric Spicely. Winn stands at 5’5” and weighed in at 185 lbs. — anyone have a guess who held the reach advantage? Yet despite the massive disparity in range, it was Winn who controlled distance, slipping inside the jab repeatedly. Perhaps more importantly, Winn controlled cage position, forcing Spicely into the fence, where the grappler was unable to retreat from Winn’s preferred range.

Close combinations and body shots saw Winn take a bonus-winning decision victory.

Many other fights saw a similar battle play out. Ashley Yoder failed to maintain her range and ate lots of punches because of it, but she was saved by a grappling advantage. Kevin Holland won a debatable decision opposite Alessio di Chirico because his jabs and lead leg kicks outweighed di Chirico’s flurries of iffy accuracy. Luis Pena massacred returning Matt Wiman by forcing bad, out-of-range shots from the veteran, hammering him from inside the clinch and on the mat.

Andre Ewell did an amazing job in capitalizing on his massive reach advantage to absolutely style on Anderson dos Santos. Stinging dos Santos with jabs and crosses, Ewell would land, pull back, and land again without being touched. Over and over and over again.

Both dos Santos and later Bryan Barberena found themselves in similar situations, getting touched up by a longer opponent who was doing a nice job of fighting long. Both reacted appropriately, biting down on their mouth pieces and swinging forward. Dos Santos’ face was torn to shreds in the process, but he did manage to land a couple takedowns in the third round and give himself a chance at victory. Barberena fought back to win the second round, but he ran into a hard snap kick in the third that sapped his energy and left him vulnerable to Randy Brown’s savage combinations.

Finally, the main event. Again, we had a clear cut case of range even if the size disparity was not major. Renato Moicano wanted jabs, kicks and distance. “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung wanted to weave his way inside, where combinations of power punches has always served him well.

It didn’t take long, but Jung had his way. Oddly, Moicano made it a bit easier for him by standing flat and feinting little. “Korean Zombie” chopped his leg early — a smart move, as failing to kick with a taller, longer foe is generally a terrible decision. Seconds later, Jung slipped inside a jab, Moicano’s first attempt to establish range. Instead, Jung was in direct punching distance, and his overhand counter essentially ended the fight.

Kickboxing in MMA is growing and changing at all times. More and more, the longer kickboxer seems to be at an advantage. We’re certainly a long way from Stefan Struve’s attempts at jabbing. As “The Korean Zombie” demonstrated, however, the rangy striker must walk a thin line with a small margin of error. To have his hand raised, Moicano had to land many jabs.

Jung only needed a single right.

For complete UFC Fight Night 154 ‘Moicano vs. Jung’ results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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