The Film Room: Jussier Formiga

By Kevin Wilson Jun 27, 2019
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Submission specialist Jussier Formiga on Saturday will return to the Octagon for his much-anticipated rematch with Joseph Benavidez in the UFC on ESPN 3 3 co-main event at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The former Shooto Americas champion enters the cage on a four-fight winning streak, and a victory over Benavidez could put him in position to challenge Henry Cejudo for the Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight title.

Formiga steps into the spotlight in this edition of The Film Room.

Despite starting his UFC career with a lackluster 5-4 record and just one finish, Formiga has proven to be one of the best flyweights in the world over the last few years. Early on, Formiga was one-dimensional, but across his seven years with the company, he has become one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division and can always rely on his grappling prowess when the situation is not going well on the feet. These days, he chooses to stand and strike with opponents more often than not, but he will still shoot for takedowns to seal a round or when he is not having success on the feet. Something to notice about his takedowns is the variety he uses. He generally likes to duck under an opponent’s punches to grab double underhooks and then sweep him to the ground, but he will also shoot for leading takedowns from the center of the cage and duck under for counter double-legs. He passes guard quickly once the action spills onto the mat.

Once Formiga takes the back, the fight might as well be over. He has arguably the best and fastest back take in the sport, and eight of his 10 submission victories have come via rear-naked choke; he does not really look for anything else. Notice how he always secures the body triangle once he takes the back and then hunts the choke. This allows him some time to work on the technique, as the opponent will have a hard time escaping the body triangle and often will be focused on breaking it instead of looking out for the choke.

As he has progressed, Formiga is becoming more of a striker who only relies on his grappling when needed. He uses clinch entries on the feet to set up his grappling. Instead of striking into the clinch like most fighters, Formiga elects to sit back on the counter and wait for the opponent to strike, at which point he can duck under and grab an underhook. Once inside the clinch, the opponent generally worries about a takedown, which allows Formiga to land some knees to the body. This shows that he is intelligent enough to use the threat of his grappling to set up his striking, a tactic few fighters can execute effectively. Benavidez will often blitz forward with wild combos, so watch for Formiga to duck under to initiate the clinch and look for a takedown.

Formiga’s striking is rather simple, but his timing and speed allow him to be effective. He is mainly a counterstriker, and on the lead, he generally throws right hands down the middle. It would benefit Formiga to set up his right hand more, either with a jab or some feints, but overall, he has had success with it.

Just like his leading attacks, Formiga’s counters are simple but effective because of his timing and speed. He loves to catch low kicks with his lead hand and come in with a counter right down the middle. Sometimes, he uses the caught kick to take down the opponent. Benavidez throws lots of kicks to the body, so watch for this counter right anytime he attempts a kick. Against Ben Nguyen, Formiga landed a beautiful counter spinning backfist that set up the submission finish. Some will say it was pure luck and it might have been, but either way, the timing required to land a counter spinning attack is quite rare, especially in MMA. Advertisement


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