Neil Magny and Hector Lombard fought on the co-main event slot of UFC Fight Night Brisbane on March 20th last weekend. It was an action packed affair, with both fighters taking damage at different points of the fight. The contest was eventually finished in the third round with Magny extending his win-streak to 3; quite the feat for a man whose last loss was only August last year.
The bout was not without it's controversy however, as referee Steve Percival allowed Lombard to absorb a shocking amount of damage before the fight was finally declared over. Controversy aside however, there are some interesting notions of intelligent defense and intelligent offense that this fight shined some light on.
Neil Magny showed an intense amount of patience and mental fortitude in this fight. Lombard dropped Magny with a left hook and a short right uppercut not even one minute into the opening round and immedietely swarmed on Magny. However, Magny showed that even in extremely stressful situations that he is able to keep calm and fight intelligently.
Instead of just turtling up (a defensive position where one covers their head with their hands and keeps their arms and legs tucked into their body), Magny constantly looked to change position, to tie up Lombard's head, arms, legs, or just about anything he could to mitigate Showeather's attack. Magny even attempted to attack with an armbar while attempting to defend the onslaught of strikes that Lombard rained down on him.
He was doing anything he could to lesson the damage that he had to take, to convince the referee that he was still in the fight, and that he was defending himself intelligently so that the fight would not be stopped.
Flashforward to the end of round two. Lombard has been flattened out with Magny on his back, landing punch after unanswered punch to his head, with Lombard doing nothing but shelling up and offering Steve Percival the thumbs up in a vain attempt to keep himself in the game. Not only does this make it so that Lombard takes a lot more damage to his head, but any competent referee such as Herb Dean or Marc Goddard would most certainly not be convinced by this, and would have stopped the fight.
The moment that Lombard had Magny hurt in the first round he was all over him, throwing full power shots at Magny's head repeatedly. This is what most fighters do in this situation, sensing the finish any fighter with natural killer instinct tends to smother their opponent in a heartbeat. However, a minute passed and Magny was still conscious.
Another minute passed, and Magny while still being underneath Lombard, was still conscious, and still defending. In this situation it would have been more wise for Lombard to stop throwing full power shots in order to retain some of his stamina for the remainder of the fight.
In the second round we see Magny being actually quite effective in the clinch against Lombard, who is renowned for his clinch game. Did Magny's clinch game evolve to the point where he could compete there with the judo olympion?
It is more likely that as Lombard was not intelligent with his offense early on, he gassed himself out by fully committing to every strike that he threw despite the fact that it looked like Magny was not going to be put out of the fight so easily.
Lombard essentially handicapped himself in the bout by throwing away so much of his energy so quickly, and had he taken a more measured, tactical approach, the fight may never have swayed in Magny's favour at all.
When it comes to elite fighers fighting other elite fighters, as it is in the upper echilons of the UFC, any small advantage can be enough to turn the tide of the battle and win the fight.
Intelligent offense and intelligent defense can change the course of a battle, either keeping a competitor in the fight, or costing them it. It was interesting to see the importance of using one of these attributes and the detriment of not using one of them within the same bout.