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James
Vick
can move further up the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
lightweight ladder when he
squares off with former
World Series of Fighting
champion Justin
Gaethje
in the
UFC Fight Night 135
main event on Saturday in Lincoln,
Nebraska. Vick has quietly compiled a 9-1 record inside the sport’s
toughest division, including wins over Jake
Matthews
, Joseph
Duffy
and Francisco
Trinaldo
.

This edition of The Film Room focuses on the strategies and
techniques of “The Texecutioner.”

With an impressive 9-1 record in the UFC’s most stacked division,
one might think Vick would be one of the biggest stars in the
155-pound weight class, but he remains an overlooked piece of the
puzzle. Although he does not get the respect he deserves, the
manner in which he has risen through the ranks might be to his
advantage. All too often, UFC brass jumps the gun on a young
prospect and throws him to the wolves. Since Vick was afforded time
to develop his skills, he now has the tools and experience to
perhaps contend for a title.

via
Gfycat

Vick’s primary advantage — and one of the reasons some see him as
a dark horse contender — can be found in his enormous height and
reach. He stands 6-foot-3 and wields a 76-inch reach. To put Vick’s
size in perspective, current lightweight champion Khabib
Nurmagomedov
stands 5-foot-10 and owns a 70-inch reach. Most
importantly, Vick actually fights like the taller and longer man.
He is not opposed to trading in the pocket but generally relies on
his rangy jab to keep opponents at bay and set up his right
straight — a punch he can land from positions others cannot.

When faced with a longer fighter, many of Vick’s opponents
aggressively try to close the distance to negate his reach. Vick
realized this early on and developed a slick counter game,
especially with his right straight. Opponents often underestimate
his size and drop their guard when they think they are far enough
away and out of danger. Vick can surprise them with his right
straight.

via
Gfycat

Another interesting tactic Vick uses to further utilize his reach
advantage comes in the form of rhythm-manipulating strikes. He at
times feints the jab, extends his lead hand and then throws the
right straight at a delayed speed. Most combos like the simple 1-2
come at the same speed and rhythm; a fighter who delays the speed
of the strikes can manipulate the opponents’ reactions by throwing
it a half second later than usual in hopes of catching them as they
drop their guard.

via
Gfycat

Vick as the taller fighter puts an emphasis on his knees, as they
have a shorter distance to cover in order to land than most
fighters. He generally grabs a Thai-style plum clinch and throws
knees to the body and head, but he will mix it up with the
occasional flying knee. Since he is so tall, the plum clinch is
much easier to secure, and if he straightens his back while doing
so, he can make returning strikes from his opponents almost
impossible to land.

Vick’s entire game relies on his height and reach advantage, even
on the ground. He favors guillotines and brabo chokes, and he uses
his long arms to secure them far easier than most. Vick grips his
guillotines differently than many of his contemporaries, as he uses
a Marcelo
Garcia
-like grip, also known as a “Marcelotine.”


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