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Before you step into the cage to fight an opponent, you must prepare. We all know that training, dieting, resting etc. are all important aspects, but one preparation that often gets lost in the mix is watching film. In other mainstream sports, this practice has been commonplace for decades. For some reason, though, it has never really caught on in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. In this week’s Draft Board, we’ll go through some of the principles of watching film and give some other alternatives
First we’ll deal with the best case scenario — you have readily available material on your opponent. What should you do? Watching film to prepare for a fight is very different from watching a fight for leisure. As an MMA fan, you may enjoy it initially, but you’ll soon get sick of watching the same thing over and over again. In many ways, the boredom is one of the hardest aspects of watching film!
The first time through look at the fight very broadly. Observe significant strikes or momentum shifts and take note of when they occur. After the first go though, you can get down to business. Much like how you watch a movie a second time and notice small differences, the same will occur here. So what should you look for? The first thing I focus on is footwork. Whether they’re primarily a striker or a grappler, much can be learned from how an opponent moves. Look to see if they’re flat footed, how they distribute their weight or if they can only shoot from a certain stance. Plus, you will get a greater grasp of your opponent’s speed by watching their footwork and judging how they are able to close distances.
Secondly, I look at their strikes. Rather than how they thrown their punches/kicks, I watch how they return them. Anyone can throw a punch, but they often leave themselves open for counterattack. Seeing if they drop their right hand after they punch or retract their kicks slowly can give you a clue on when to blitz and add pressure.
Just because there may be film on your opponent, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be helpful. Many times the only footage available is severely outdated to make a difference. There will be little to learn from watching old material. When it comes to watching film, the more recent the better. Fighters are extremely fad oriented. They’re constantly learning new things and have “pet” techniques. If you can zero in on their tendencies, you’ll have a step up already. Watching old material will only give you poor information.
Especially at early amateur levels, there might not be any film at all. Worse yet, it could be your opponents first fight. What do you do then? Ask around. Now, I’m not asking you to spy on your opponent, but you still have to do your due diligence. Gyms and coaches have specific styles. Clearly no two teammates will fight exactly alike, but they share the same coaching staff so they’ll have some similarities.
With all the hours of training a fight must put in, another task added to that list may seem like a bother. Just like School House Rock said, “Knowledge is Power!”