Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Modern Combat The Combat Space
The Kickboxing Trap
Rockhold and Romero, Analysis

Paul Bingham asked for you to comment on this fight.


Paul, good MMA eye for a hands guy. As a boxing man you probably noticed the southpaw drift into doom which somehow eluded Rockhold’s corner. Both of these men are fine athletic specimens and Rockhold’s kickboxing form was excellent. However, Big Ron and I picked him to get KO’d after he won the first round.


1. Romero was just stalking him in a curious pawing manner, like a cat playing with a mouse.

2. Rockhold did not throw a cleanup punch with his lead hand after throwing his very good jab straight left. This would leave his rear hip forward for the shoot against this formidable wrestler. Had this fight occurred in a smaller cage Romero could have taken Rockhold down at will based on this hip leave.

3. Rockhold was fighting as if he were a southpaw fighting an orthodox fighter. Instead of moving to the outside of his opponent’s lead he was walking right into the overhand left. As Lennox Lewis learned in South Africa against Hassim Rochman, walking into the rear hand of a shorter, thicker man is worse than walking into the taller man’s right as he is more likely to throw in an overhand, crossing arc, rather than straight from the shoulder, which imparts more rotational hip into the punch and hits the chin more reliably.

The big question is why in hell did Rockhold box with a low lead, while moving to his closed side into the opponent’s open side and his waiting power hand?

I have some ideas, none of which absolve Luke’s corner from negligence in this case.

Kick boxers tend not to throw a lead cleanup punch because they are trained to follow with a kick. But since kicks are usually not clear for throwing at punching range, unless you have backed your man up with your punches, a kick boxer, especially a good one, will tend to stall out after the one-two and just pull the guard back, which invites the cross or overhand.

Kickboxers tend to respect the southpaw angle less than boxers as that lead leg which is a step around post for the boxer becomes a target and s viewed as something that can be gotten rid of. That dynamic was not present in this fight, but the usually presence of it in Luke’s career could have set him up for not being aware enough that he was facing another southpaw to ignore it.

The fact that kickboxers, the best ones especially, switch leads as a matter of course, does not develop the keen sense for the southpaw trap that a pure boxer has.

Luke had an excellent set of hybrid jabs, one of which was a rising almost backhand jab much like Bruce Lee’s “straight blast” punch. This cycled his hand down every second beat and left him crucially open for the rear left hand he was already walking into.

Luke obviously could have used extensive stick-fighting and knife-dueling experience for dealing with another southpaw. In the vast majority of weapon fights both parties fight as southpaws and learn to strike and pass to their open side and to the outside of their foe’s closed lead side simultaneously.

Most importantly, southpaws, whether boxers or kick boxers, stick-fighters, duelists or MMA fighters have a tendency to train and practice against the most common opponent, that 9 out of 10 fighter who leads with the opposite hand, making them prone to maladaption against their mirror image.

As for Romero, he reminds me of Hendo, relying on is wrestling ability to stalk relentlessly in search of that big KO punch.

Twerps, Goons and Meatshields: The Basics of Full Contact Stick-Fighting

The Punishing Art

Add Comment