Wednesday, September 2, 2009

UFC 102 Analysis: Vera vs. Soszynski

Going to be posting these one fight at a time, here's the first!

Brandon Vera vs. Krzysztof Soszynski

Prediction: Vera, Rd.3 by Unanimous Decision

Outcome: Vera, Rd.3 by Unanimous Decision

As expected, Vera’s superior boxing skills were on display for Portland. Soszynski was too slow to land any punches and was unable to close the distance effectively. Vera used his reach to a decisive advantage, putting together some great combinations of punches and kicks, head and body shots. The first kick he landed early in the fight looks like it his Soszynski right in the liver, which could have contributed to the lack aggression and endurance by the Polish fighter.

Vera caught a couple of punches throughout the fight, but none of them did enough damage to keep him down for good. Most of Soszynski’s punches, however, were easily slipped and countered. Vera looked much bigger than Soszynski during the fight, in weight and height. It’s possible that Soszynski had a difficult weight cut for this fight, which also would have contributed to him running out of gas during the third round.

Unable to fight Vera on the inside, Soszynski rushed in to clinch a number of times during the match. Looking for strikes, Vera seemed to neutralize Soszynski’s punches and elbows with some great Greco-Roman clinchwork. Soszynski managed to get the Thai plum (double collar tie) a few times, but the first couple of times were with his back against the cage, restricting him from being able to throw knees effectively. The other times he nabbed the Thai clinch, he seemed just too tired to launch attacks. He went to shoot for takedowns from both in the clinch and from outside, but Vera stuffed them easily. Part of this is Vera’s great wrestling ability (he got a wrestling scholarship to Old Dominion University), and part of this was that Soszynski was absolutely terrible at takedowns that night, reaching down with his hips all the way back, unable to utilize his leg strength.

I’m not sure if it’s because he was tired or because he was frustrated, but whatever the reason, he was neutralized on all but one takedown. The one takedown he did land he managed to power through with upper body strength alone, but Vera got to his feet within seconds. Soszynski was clearly outmatched in all aspects of the fight, from Vera’s clever striking (and beautiful spin combo in round three!) to his powerful clinch game to his newly improved conditioning program. Vera almost had a couple of standing submissions as well, but none were tight enough to put Soszynski in any real danger.

So why couldn’t Vera finish the fight? Soszynski has a solid chin, for one. He ate a number of punches and knees to the face, and a couple of elbows from in the clinch too, probably. Vera also used a lot of body shots to keep him gassed and unable to mount any offense beyond rushing in for a useless clinch game. Vera may have been pulling his punches a bit, afraid to get too close to Soszynski’s powerful hands. However, working in the clinch, I would have liked to see Vera establish a solid Thai plum of his own and work a series of knees. Vera used some knees from over-under positions as he pummeled with Soszynski, but those can only reach up to the thighs, which isn’t as valuable as throwing knees to the midsection or the face.

Regardless, it was a dominant victory for Vera, even if he couldn’t properly close out the fight. Hopefully this newer, tighter, and fitter Vera sticks around and works his way up to the top of the division.

No comments:

Post a Comment