I mean I can only imagine how annoying/dangerous it is to compete against someone like Demetrious Johnson. You have this incredibly fast athlete constantly throwing feints at you while switching stances every few seconds. He also has the ability to take you down at will and if you have the audacity to actually defend the take down he will use your reaction to land strikes as he’s coming up.
He lands his shots at will, rarely takes any damage,has KO power, great take downs, dangerous submissions and has finished 3 of his last 4 opponents in world title bouts. If you were looking for a fighter to model yourself on DJ is a spectacularly sensible choice.
Why change stance?
So why does DJ switch so much? One of the major benefits of doing this is that it changes the rules of engagement. Assuming you are facing an orthodox opponent, as you move from orthodox to southpaw the guy you are competing against becomes more susceptible to your rear side weapons like the left cross and left body kick.
With this frequent stance changing the opponent is constantly forced to reset and address a new scenario. This can leave opponents standing in front of him deeply confused and off balance.
In the video at the end of this article you will see DJ utilise his stance change in a tonne of practical ways. Here are a few examples.
- To create distance from an advancing opponent.
- To cover distance towards an opponent often with a step through right hand from orthodox stance.
- aggressive Orthodox to southpaw switch vs a retreating opponent.
- To ride out inside low kicks
- To evade overhand rights but remain in range to counter.
- When he starts to lose the race to the outside he will stance change to negate the orthodox advantage.
What is southpaw looking for vs an orthodox fighter?
DJ does some of his best work from southpaw. The techniques he utilises are the standard fair for southpaws facing off against orthodox fighters, but what DJ does really well is mask it all behind frequent stance changing.
I think that nearly all boxing coaches agree that the key to the southpaws advantage over orthodox fighters is the maintenance of the lead foot outside the opponents lead food. This allows DJ to line up his left cross through his opponents guard at the same time making it difficult for the same opponent to comeback with counters.
The problem that southpaws have always faced is that the orthodox fighter can do the exact same thing straight back. Fortunately as DJ is excellent in both stances as soon as he feels he is losing the race to the outside a quick stance change resets the game.
Below are some of the common orthodox vs southpaw strategies utilised by DJ.
- Pawing the lead hand as he edges closer allows DJ to set up the southpaw jab to break up his opponent rhythm and forward pressure.
- The same pawing of the jab is a fine set up for his go to high damage techniques the left cross, left body/high kick and left knee.
- By walking the opponent down towards the cage and giving them a single avenue of escape DJ can walk opponents onto the left body kicks they move off.
Setting it all up early with leg kicks
Practically every Demetrious Johnson fight begins in the same manner. A lot of movement, a lot of stance changing and feints punctuated by a large volume of leg kicks. This is a great way to test your opponents reactions and range. DJ minimises the danger of being countered by kicking from both stances and targeting both the inside and outside of his opponents lead leg.
He also tends to pull away from the opponent after the kick lands forcing them to chase him if they wish to counter, never a great idea against a fighter with so many options.
But by and large the coolest aspect of this strategy is his ability to switch stance off the kick. A right leg kick from orthodox lands, the foot is placed back down to the outside of the opponents lead leg and the left leg falls back into position. The opponent has just eaten a leg kick but now has to deal with the potential threat of all those rear side weapons being winged at him.
As the rounds get deeper and opponents fatigue this strategy becomes more apparent and more offensive.
These strategies have lead him to victories over bigger, stronger and more experienced challengers time and time again.
Now you know why the coaches at the Griphouse have been dialing stance switching techniques into our programs over the last few months even at the fundamental levels.
Did I mention DJ also he has some of the best wrestling in the MMA? Check that out in part 2