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UFC 194 Results: Technical Breakdown of Aldo-McGregor and Weidman-Rockhold

Patrick Wyman@@Patrick_WymanMMA Senior AnalystDecember 13, 2015

Conor McGregor is the new featherweight champion.
Conor McGregor is the new featherweight champion.John Locher/Associated Press

It took just 13 seconds for Conor McGregor to end Jose Aldo's incredible streak of dominance atop the featherweight division at UFC 194 on Saturday night15 straight wins in the UFC and WEC and nine combined title defenses came to a crashing halt at the end of one straight left.

It was a beautiful shot, and it wasn't the night's only stunning and impressive outcome.

In UFC 194's co-main event, Luke Rockhold ended Chris Weidman's 29-month reign as the middleweight champion in emphatic fashion.

Let's take a look at how the two new champions won their belts.

Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor

There isn't a ton to break down in a 13-second fight, but it's worth taking a deeper look.

Here's the brief version: As Aldo stepped forward, feinting the right hand to move his weight onto his lead foot for a left hook, McGregor stepped to the inside angle and pivoted as he threw a straight-left counter across the plane of Aldo's body. The punch put him to sleep in an instant.

McGregor's punch lands across the plane of Aldo's body.
McGregor's punch lands across the plane of Aldo's body.John Locher/Associated Press

So what does that mean? In an orthodox-southpaw matchup—an open-guard situation, as opposed to closed guard, when both fighters are in the same stance—you generally want to have your lead foot outside your opponent's. This is the outside angle.

Why? Having your lead foot outside your opponent's shortens the path for your rear hand and lengthens it for your opponent. In other words, it's easier to land your power shot and avoid your opponent's.

The inside angle, by contrast, is when your lead foot is inside your opponent's. McGregor has been a master of the inside angle for years. He lets opponents overcommit to the outside angle, and once they do, he pounces.

He then pivots slightly on his lead foot and throws the straight left across the plane of his opponent's body, which makes it incredibly difficult to absorb the force of the blow. Note the position of the two fighters' feet here as he throws the inside-angle left against Dennis Siver.

McGregor's knockout of Aldo is eerily similar to his devastating knockout of Ivan Buchinger at Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 51 back in 2012, but the Irishman's back-stepping movement was more pronounced and the speed at which it happened was shocking.

In both cases, the trigger for the small step to the inside angle and then the straight-left counter was a right-hand lead from his opponent.

The difference here was that Aldo feinted the right to set up the left hook, a clever trick from the longtime champion. McGregor immediately reacted to the threat of the straight right and never saw Aldo's left hook coming: The shot landed cleanly, but only after McGregor's straight left had already done its work.

That wasn't a fluke punch from McGregor. It was a counter he has drilled thousands of times over the years, and one he's hit on numerous opponents in the past to devastating effect.

The level of technical precision necessary to land itnever mind the power to put Aldo awayis what makes McGregor such a special fighter.

Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold

It took a lot longer than 13 seconds, but Rockhold's demolition of Chris Weidman was no less emphatic. There were a number of important factors here, including Rockhold's slick and dominant performance on the mat, but we'll limit our focus to two: the front headlock and aggressiveness at range.

Those two things served to convince Weidman that his bread and buttertakedowns in open space and aggressive pressure on the feetwere a bad idea.

They took the champion completely out of his preferred game and mindset.

Rockhold has one of the nastiest—if not the nastiestfront headlock series in MMA. That's a big part of what makes him so difficult to get the ground.

If you shoot on him near the fence, he's adept at using it to defend or, if taken down, to wall-walk back to his feet. If you shoot on him in open space, however, he sprawls and then grabs hold of the front headlock, which is a recipe for a quick finish.

The new champion has a number of different options from the front headlock. His go-to technique is the guillotine, and he either drops down to finishusually with the arm inor more often uses it to sweep to top position.

He also has a slick move to the back, and from there he excels at either getting his hooks in or breaking his opponent down to the mat.

Weidman ran into trouble with the front headlock on several occasions. He got his first taste with 30 seconds left in the first round when he shot on Rockhold, ended up in a guillotine and then had to scramble just to find himself on his back and avoid the choke.

Rockhold used the front headlock to sweep to top position when Weidman shot in open space.
Rockhold used the front headlock to sweep to top position when Weidman shot in open space.Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The champion didn't take another shot at Rockhold in open space for the rest of the fight. Without the threat of his level changes and quick-shot takedowns in open space, Weidman's striking looked much less impressive than it has in the past.

Rockhold also used the threat of the front headlock as an ally against the fence. When Weidman thought about working the takedown, the challenger would grab his neck. When Weidman went to defend the potential choke, Rockhold used it to circle off and regain his preferred distance.

This was a big part of what rendered Weidman so ineffective in the clinch after the first round.

The second component of Rockhold's victory was his venomous and savvy approach to Weidman at striking distance. While his most devastating blows came on the ground, Rockhold clearly won the striking matchup as well, and he did it by meeting Weidman's pressure with aggressiveness of his own.

The former champion is almost exclusively a pressure fighter whose goal is to push his opponent backward toward the fence. Rockhold met almost every sequence of Weidman's forward movement with his signature counter right hook. That shot dropped Weidman at the very beginning of the second round and hurt him on several other occasions, and it made Weidman hesitant to close the distance.

One of Rockhold's counter right hooks.
One of Rockhold's counter right hooks.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Instead of allowing Weidman to pull back into the middle of the cage, reset and begin his pressure once again, Rockhold pursued him back out into open space.

Whenever he had room to work, Rockhold went to town with a steady diet of powerful left kicks to the legs, body and head. The challenger didn't waste any opportunities to put volume on Weidman.

In doing so, Rockhold exploited a serious flaw in Weidman's game that Lyoto Machida and to a lesser extent Vitor Belfort had previously exposed.

As good as he is moving forward, the former champion has little to offer on the counter, and like many pressure fighters, he needs time to readjust after one of his pressure sequences fails. Rockhold didn't let him reset and took him out of his preferred game.

Weidman is vulnerable whenever he's not moving forward, and Rockhold limited his opportunities to do so through aggression of his own. He made Weidman hesitate about exploding forward through his slick counterpunching and then exploited that hesitation by becoming the pressure fighter himself.

Rockhold's entire performance revolved around making Weidman believe that what the champion wanted to do was a bad idea. His front headlock took away Weidman's takedowns in open space, and his aggressiveness limited Weidman's pressure.

It was a brilliant all-around performance that speaks to the depth and intelligence of Rockhold's game.

Patrick Wyman is the Senior MMA Analyst for Bleacher Reporter and the co-host of the Heavy Hands Podcast, your source for the finer points of face-punching. He can be found on Twitter.