Polish veteran, Marcin Tybura, will throw down with English boxer, Tom Aspinall, this Saturday (July 22, 2023) at UFC London inside O2 Arena in London, England.
Tybura’s UFC career has seen its share of ups-and-downs. At one point in 2017, a three-fight win streak saw him advance into the Top 10 and attempt to break into the title mix. Immediately, it all fell apart, and Tybura lost four of his next five fights, looking gun shy and uncomfortable in the process. In fact, Tybura looked to be on his way out of the promotion. instead, he turned it around to win seven of his next eight, reestablishing himself as a ranked Heavyweight. One more time, Tybura will attempt to break into the title picture with this fight, and we’ll see if he can force a different result.
Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:
Tybura is not a man who usually makes many highlights on the feet. He’s effective enough though, and he really just has to keep it even in order for his conditioning or wrestling advantages to come into play.
At distance, Tybura only makes occasional use of the jab, instead preferring to step in heavy with power shots. Often, Tybura will make use of shifting punches, stepping into the opposite stance as he fires a power shot in order to load up another. These punches can carry him forward into the clinch or a double leg attempt. He likes to switch stances intermittently, occasionally bombing forward with a big swing.
One of the better aspects of Tybura’s stand up is the simple fact that he moves his head while throwing his power shots. In a division with such heavy hitters, that’s important. Often, Tybura will roll off the right hand, occasionally throwing a left hook while he does.
Thanks to that head movement, Tybura has found good success as a counter puncher. He lands the jab on aggressors whenever he actually throws it, but mostly Tybura is a fan of the check hook. Looking to catch his opponent coming up, he does a nice job of leaning back and hiding his chin behind his shoulder. Of course, this can end disastrously if his opponent’s right hand gets inside his check hook, which happens occasionally.
Tybura has an unusually interesting kicking game for a Heavyweight. Despite not having a Karate background, Tybura kicks with a great deal of speed and snap. In particular, his left kick is a thing of beauty, and Tybura takes great pains to set it up well.
First and foremost, Tybura throws the kick at two different angles. Some times, he’ll come straight up with a surprisingly powerful front kick. Front kicks can usually snap into the mid-section or push the opponent away, but Tybura’s seems to do both quite effectively. Alternatively, Tybura’s kick can come up to the side of his opponent’s head (GIF). It still snaps from the knee, but the angle is different. In the Viktor Pesta knockout, Tybura did well to hide his left kick behind a feinted left hook, attacking twice from the same side.
Usually, Tybura accompanies his round kick with a quick step into Southpaw that is disguised by a combination. Sometimes, whoever, Tybura will just lean back and flick the kick up as his opponent comes in, hoping to catch him with his hands low.
Tybura will throw a right snap and low kick as well, but less thought goes into those strikes. However, the habit of snap kicking with either leg sets up his step knees. The first step to the snap kick is to raise the lead knee up, which means the same motion can easily be converted into a knee if his opponent is too close.
In 2019, Tybura lost two fights via knockout to two men who are no longer on the UFC roster, Shamil Abdurakhimov and Augusto Sakai. On paper, those were winnable fights for the former M-1 Global champion. His confidence seemed to be shaken, however, as he backed away from exchanges after getting touched early. He couldn’t exchange with his opponents, who were thus able to bully him without much significant coming back.
It’s a credit to Tybura’s toughness that he was able to get over this mental hurdle and go back to the trenches in tough fights, like his comeback against Greg Hardy.
Over the years, Tybura has become more and more of an offensively focused wrestler. It’s a smart move, seeing as Tybura isn’t the most powerful puncher. Really, his conditioning and overall consistency are his greater weapons, which make wrestling an effective path.
Outside of the occasional caught kick, Tybura does the majority of his wrestling along the fence. Again, embracing this grind benefits his strengths, as well as mitigating his relative lack of quickness. Regardless of how he first gets his foe to the cage — clinch, single leg, or full shot — Tybura is usually trying to finish the double. Occasionally, he’ll do so by attempting to hook a leg as well.
What separates Tybura from most other Heavyweight wrestlers is that he’s quite good at maintaining top control. Sure, Derrick Lewis managed to “just stand up” a few times, but he’s an exception. Against many opponents, Tybura is able to lock down entire rounds with just a single takedown, a skill that has decided several close fights in his favor.
In one of his best wins, Tybura handed Alexander Romanov his first professional loss on the strength of his defensive wrestling. The game plan to denying Romanov’s clinch takedowns was pretty clear: utilize good frames and head position. Tybura did well on Romanov’s first attempt and had him stuff, but an attempt to punch allowed Romanov to duck under his elbow, beat the frames, and throw Tybura through the air.
He spent most of the first round on bottom as a result. After that error, however, Tybura stuck to the script and fought for head position very well, forcing a war of attrition on the feet that saw him pull ahead over time.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Tybura has submitted six foes previously. None of those wins came inside the Octagon, but as mentioned, his top control is very good.
From top position, Tybura is a very heavy guard passer. He usually waits for his opponent to make the first move to open the guard, simply landing strikes until his opponent is forced to move. Once that happens, Tybura will look to stack the hips and pass directly into mount. Alternatively, he’ll step into half guard, drop heavy should pressure, and land in that same dominant position.
Once in the mount, Tybura does an excellent job of maintaining position. He’ll quickly climb into a high mount and start dropping hammer fists, which usually causes his opponent to buck and scramble. When that happens, Tybura lets his opponent roll over but sinks his weight back, ensuring he doesn’t fall off the top. All the while, he keeps punching, encouraging his opponent to turn back to mount.
He’s finished several UFC opponents, like Walt Harris and Greg Hardy, on the strength of his ground striking. Additionally, there are four rear-naked choke victories on his record, a submission he’s looked for inside the Octagon.
Finally, Tybura did use a north-south choke to sleep UFC vet Damian Grabowski in his first M-1 Global title fight. That’s a rarely seen submission, one that pops up more at Heavyweight than anywhere else. It’s almost an upside down guillotine, as Tybura sprawled backwards to drop his bicep into Grabowski’s throat from the north-south position. If done properly, the neck is isolated and constricted in a vice that offers little room to move.
Tybura is a significant underdog in this match up, even considering Aspinall’s knee injury last year. However, he has the toughness and grinding style necessary to perhaps take Aspinall to places we’ve never seen the English talent ... provided Tybura can escape the first five minutes.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional 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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