Two opposing styles locked Horns at UFC 145 this weekend when Mark Hominick fought Eddie Yagin. Hominick is a technical striker focused on great boxing and he has very smooth and quick footwork. Yagin on the other hand is very much a stand and bang kind of guy, quite static with his footwork and happy to throw a bit of discipline out of the window and swing for the fences. If you stood in front of Yagin you’d stand a very good chance of getting knocked out but it wouldn’t take a tactical genius to know that good footwork should be the perfect antidote to this. The strange thing is that Mark Hominick seemingly has great footwork and so he should have been able nullify Yagin’s tactics. Instead he struggled quite a bit early on and then wasn’t able to turn it round enough despite the strong finish to convince the judges that he deserved the nod.
So what did Hominick do wrong that enabled Eddie Yagin to get the upper hand? Well as always with these things there is more than one reason, certainly a more diverse attack particularly with leg kicks and take downs (or even fake takedowns) would have meant that Yagin would have been more heavily punished for his more static approach particularly as he started to tire. However, I believe that the biggest single factor that contributed to his loss was that the majority of the time he circled the wrong way. As simplistic as this may seem it’s such a crucial part of the footwork required in this situation that I believe it made the difference between winning and losing.
Eddie Yagin generally takes an orthodox, left foot forward stance, this means that he’ll be delivering a lot of powerful strikes off his right side. If we were standing in front of him and then circled to the left we would be moving into his power zone and towards his right hand. If we circled to the right we would be moving away from the power zone and away from his right hand. In PRO MAI MMA we would refer to this as the open side and the closed side – against a left foot lead like this the left side it’s the open side and the right side is the closed side. If you move to your opponents open side then you have some great opportunities to attack but you are also moving into a sweet spot for your opponents attacks. If you move to your opponents closed side the options are slightly more limited but it becomes very difficult for them to attack you effectively, particularly with combinations.
In the early rounds in particular when Yagin was fresh and most effective, Hominick should have kept the majority of his circling to the closed side – taking away Yagin’s power and combinations and doing damage with counters from angles off to the side. Instead he spent almost all of the fight circling the other way, to the open side, into Yagin’s danger zone and making the fight much more even that it needed to be. Ultimately this meant that Mark Hominick allowed Eddie Yagin to fight with his strengths, allowing him to unload and combine powerful strikes that scored well, this would have been far more difficult for Yagin to achieve had Hominick circled in the opposite direction far more often.