How to counterpunch like Conor McGregor

How to counterpunch like Conor McGregor

In today’s article and video (above) I’m going to show you how to counterpunch just like Conor McGregor.
Now, counters are not all that McGregor does and he has a wide variety of attacks, but in today’s video we are only going to concentrate on his counterpunching ability.

The underlying principle behind his counterpunching is distance management. Take a look at the four ways that he uses to counter:

1. FADE AND COUNTER.
2. SLIP AND COUNTER.
3. SKIP BACK, FORWARD AND COUNTER.
4. COUNTER WHILE MOVING BACKWARD.

Let’s take a closer look.

1. FADE AND COUNTER

When it comes to fades, it can either be:

a) Side fade and counter
or
b) Back fade and counter

In both cases he does this by standing in place, fading and then countering. By standing in place I mean he doesn’t move his feet when his opponent tries to punch him. He only fades – a bit.

In this example you can see him utilizing the side fade which is considered proper form and how it’s should be done. It’s done by leaning sideways at the waist a little bit and then countering.

Side fade

Side fade

Back fading is not “by the book” because you’re bending straight back and not sideways. I personally don’t like the back fade because If you bend a lot then you cannot counter fast enough.

McGregor makes it work because he only bends a tiny bit which enables him to quickly return fire. And he is so good at judging the distance that he only moved his head about 1 cm before he countered Eddie Alvarez and won the fight.

Back fade against Eddie Alvarez

Back fade against Eddie Alvarez

Back fade

Back fade

Masterful.
 

2. SLIP AND COUNTER

This is very similar to fading and countering. In this case his head slips the punch diagonally and he counters right away. Here we see a variation where he uses a small parry before slipping and countering.

Parry, slip and counter

Parry, slip and counter

Here he only slips and counters.

For a counter to work after fading or slipping, we must stay in the pocket and not move too much – and that is exactly what McGregor does.

By not moving our feet and just slipping or fading, the opponent comes to us when he tries to hit us and is an easy target if he misses. Easier said than done. It takes a lot of courage, skill and timing.

Important point: the rear leg is crucial for good countering. Conor pushes off of it as soon as he fades or slips.

Driving off of the rear leg

Driving off of the rear leg

3. SKIP BACK, FORWARD AND COUNTER

This mostly depends on how close his opponent comes to hit him. If the opponent is very close, he has to skip backwards before he counters. After the backward skip he skips forward and punches. Usually with a 1-2 combination.

Skip back, forward and then counter

Skip back, forward and then counter

The trick here is not to skip too much backward as that will make it difficult to counter. You have to find the right distance so you can return fire immediately.
 

4. COUNTER WHILE MOVING BACKWARD

If the opponent tries to bull rush him with punches, like Jose Aldo did, he counters while moving backward. McGregor also used this move early in his career.

Counter while moving backward

Counter while moving backward

These counters work regardless if you’re fighting a same stance fighter or an opposite stance fighter. McGregor usually has a reach advantage over his opponents and uses it very well.

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HERE ARE A FEW DRILLS THAT YOU CAN PRACTICE TO IMPROVE YOUR COUNTERPUNCHING:

 

1. Sideways fade drill

Just stand in place and fade sideways. You can use the shoulder roll or leave the hand in mid air. You can also drop the hand. Try to move as little as possible.

Do this 20 times each. No moving around.

Sideways fade drill

Sideways fade drill

2. Sideways fade + punch

The second one is the same drill, only you punch after the fade. You use your rear hand to punch. It’s very important for the pad holder to aim for your chin. Otherwise he is not doing you any favors. He is not gonna do that very strong, just aim for the chin.

20 times each – 3 sets.

Sideways fade + punch

Sideways fade + punch

3. Sideways fade + 1,2 combo

The third one is the sideways fade + 1,2 combo. It’s very basic: you just fade and hit jab and cross. Try to move as little as possible. Meaning moving your head as little as possible.

20 times each – 3 sets.

Sideways fade + 1, 2 combo

Sideways fade + 1, 2 combo

4. Target practice drill 1: Move around, fade and counter

The fourth one is the target practice drill. You move around, fade and then counter. Aim for the chin and lightly touch it. By lightly I mean barely touch it. So this drill is not stationary like the previous ones. You move around and then hit.

Drill duration: 3 minutes each.

Move around, fade and counter with a single punch (cross)

Move around, fade and counter with a single punch (cross)

5. Target practice drill 2: Move around, strike, fade and punch

The fifth one is also a target practice drill, also in motion, but this time you hit him very very lightly. You can use kicks you can use punches and then when he tries to hit you either counter with the rear hand or with a 1,2 combo. You can also do a 2,3 combo meaning you can counter with a straight (cross) and then a hook. Just like this.

The important thing here is that you are practicing your targeting. Meaning you are actually going to hit your opponent in the face but very lightly, very very lightly, so you don’t injure him. It’s quite different from hitting mitts.

Drill duration: 3 minutes each.

Move around, strike, fade and counter with jab-cross or cross-hook combo

Move around, strike, fade and counter with jab-cross or cross-hook combo

6. Bag drill 1: Skip and fade 4 times and counter on the fifth

The sixth drill is on the bag. You skip and fade four times and on the fifth time you counter with a rear hand. You can stop the bag from moving around if it’s moving too much. And sometimes you don’t even have to skip, you can only fade.

20 reps – 1 rep consists of 5 skips and a counter.

Skip and fade 4 times and counter with the cross on the fifth time

Skip and fade 4 times and counter with the cross on the fifth time

7. Skip and fade four times and counter with a combo on the fifth

The seventh drill is also a skip and fade drill, but this time you counter with a combo. 1,2 combo or a 2,3 combo – meaning a cross and a hook. Just like this.

20 reps – 1 rep consists of 5 skips and a counter.

Skip and fade 4 times and counter with the jab-cross or a cross-hook combo on the fifth time

Skip and fade 4 times and counter with the jab-cross or a cross-hook combo on the fifth time

These skipping bag drills are very good for cardio.


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