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UFC 189 Judo Chop – Conor McGregor: A True Fighter

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Bloody Elbow’s striking specialist Connor Ruebusch breaks down the invisible punching mechanics that make Conor McGregor such an accurate volume striker.

189 will be Conor McGregor’s chance to prove that he is indeed one of MMA’s biggest draws, especially now that featherweight champion Jose Aldohas been forced to pull out of their much anticipated fight. We won’t know until the pay-per-view numbers come in whether “The Notorious” is really the economic force the UFC claims him to be.

There is no doubt, however, that McGregor is one of the MMA world’s most persistent talking points. His personality and eclectic fighting style have received no end of attention and commentary from MMA fans, journalists, and analysts alike. What this means is that, on a surface level, you’ve probably heard everything there is to hear about McGregor at this point. You know he has great distance management. You know he’s settling more and more into the role of swarmer–and if you read my piece “The Puncher’s Path,” you may not be certain whether or not that’s a positive development. You know that he hasn’t faced a wrestler, but you should also know that his counter-wrestling appears decent nonetheless.

So today I thought I’d attempt something a little different, and give you a perspective on Conor McGregor’s striking prowess that you probably haven’t heard before. And to best understand this unexplored facet of the Dublin destroyer’s game, we have to first cross the Irish sea and travel southeast to London where, in 1599 AD, a man named George Silver published his thoughts on the art of fighting.


George Silver was an English nobleman who considered himself an expert on all thingscombat. In 16th and early 17th Century England, this meant not only the use of the sword, but weapons such as the quarterstaff and dagger as well. Silver was also immensely proud of what he deemed an English style of fencing, and his national pride often took the form of disparaging remarks regarding the fighting practices of foreignors–particularly Italians. Silver hated Italians about as much as McGregor claims to hate Brazilians.

Amusing xenophobia aside, however, Silver was an intelligent and thoughtful teacher of martial arts. His dislike of the Italian style of fencing, for example, was largely based on the premise that it was suited only to duelling, and not efficient or safe dueling at that, while Silver himself preferred a system of fencing that was as much at home on the battlefield as it was in the gentleman’s dispute. He also looked down upon fencers, whether Italian or English, who sought to identify one perfect method of attack; when it came to arguments over whether the cut or the thrust was the superior sword strike, Silver said, “This question is not propounded according to art, because there is no perfect fight without both blow and thrust.” In a way, George Silver’s practical mindset wasn’t so different from that of the modern mixed martial artist

One theme stands out in Silver’s manuscript, Paradoxes of Defence. This is the concept of “true time.” In Silver’s own words:

The true fights be these: whatsoever is done with the hand before the foot or feet is true fight. The false fights are these: whatsoever is done with the foot or feet before the hand, is false, because the hand is swifter than the foot, the foot or feet being the slower mover than the hand, the hand in that manner of fight is tied to the time of the foot or feet, and being tied thereto, has lost his freedom, and is made thereby as slow in his motions as the foot or feet, and therefor that fight is false.

In other words, Silver’s treatise focused on the elimination of what we now call “telegraphing.” He reasoned that because the hand moved quicker than the body, and because the body moved quicker than the feet, that the surest (or “truest”) way to strike out at an opponent was to move the hand first, the body second, and the feet last, lest the opponent read the intent of the arm in the movements of the whole.

This idea is no less true now than it was in 1599, and one doesn’t need a sword to put the concept to use. The proof of this, as you might have guessed, is in the brash black pudding: Conor McGregor.


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