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From A Fighter's Perspective: "The Mover"

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Below is a piece written by local professional MMA fighter Jake Whitfield. Jake takes a look at one style of opponent that fighters sometimes face:

  The runner, or mover, is one of the most stylistically difficult opponents to deal with. Let's start off with a definition of the runner or mover. A mover is an opponent that uses constant motion to control the distance and pace of a fight. A mover will often be refered to as a runner by a more slow footed slugger type of fighter because the slower fighter feels as if the mover is "running" from the fight. Not withstanding this opinion, movement based fighting is an effective and difficult to deal with strategy. 
    The mover has a general strategy of stepping into firing range only long enough to score with his own strikes before moving back out of range and away from danger. A mover believes heavily in the "sweet science" of hitting without being hit. This creates a difficult situation for the opponent to deal with. It can be extremely frustrating to constantly chase an opponent who tags you with crisp combinations, then disappears before you can hit him back.
    The mover must start the fight quickly. From the opening bell he must attempt to set the pace and tempo of the fight. In order to fight this way, the mover must be in outstanding shape. Against an uneducated opponent or a less strategic opponent the mover will move in and out of range easily. His opponent will exhaust and frustrate himself by swinging wildly. Eventually the mover will either catch the opponent out of position and finish the fight (example: Lyoto Machida x Rashad Evans/ Muhammad Ali x George Foreman) or frustrate his opponent into submission (example: "Sugar" Ray Leonard x Roberto Duran II/ Cassius Clay x Sonny Liston). The mover must also attempt to deliver a large amount of damage early on because he inevitably will tire as the fight proceeds. This way either the opponent will have to abandon his strategy and shoot for the knockout or possibly lose a decision.
     The basic strategy for dealing with a mover is to maintain a disciplined defense and attack the body from the very beginning of the fight. When facing a mover you can almost always count on losing the first few rounds. However, you must never panic or overextend yourself chasing the opponent. By keeping your strikes short and under control you will avoid many of the easy counters that movers thrive off of. A well disciplined body attack will also speed the natural fatigue that a mover must battle. It's not easy to remain in constant motion for fifteen or twenty five minutes and the task becomes even more difficult when you are being pounded to the body. As the fight wears on, you must resist the temptation to leave the body behind and hunt for the head.  
     The ultimate clash between a mover and a strategically prepared opponent was the three fight series between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. In their first meeting, Ali started the fight off quickly and won the majority of the early rounds. However, Frazier maintained a punishing and consistent body attack. As Ali continued to slow Frazier slowly began to integrate his punishing left hook to Ali's head. Going into the 15th and final round the fight was close but Frazier held a slight edge. Finally after 14 rounds of punishing Ali's body, Frazier countered Ali's left uppercut with a vicious left hook to the jaw which deposited Ali onto the canvas. Ali arose amazingly quick and finished the fight, but there was little doubt who had won. A few years later, the two met for a second time. Ali once again started the fight off well and, though Frazier had his moments, he avoided much of the devestating body damage he took in their first meeting. This was coupled by a 12 round fight compared to the 15 round first fight. This shorter time limit made it considerably more difficult for Frazier to stay disciplined with his body attack and forced him to begin swinging for the knockout much earlier. This allowed Ali to maintain his pace for longer and to take a comfortable decision victory. The third and climactic battle between the two featured both men doing exactly what they were supposed to do. Customarily Ali started the fight very quickly and looked to take Frazier out early. Ali easily won the first 5 rounds and hurt Frazier several times. Throughout those early rounds, Frazier absorbed Ali's offense and delivered much of his own, mainly focusing on Ali's body. In the middle rounds Ali slowed considerably and was punished against the ropes by Frazier. Frazier won the sixth through tenth rounds and beat Ali mercilessly but wasn't able to finish the fight. The eleventh through fourteenth rounds were some of the most brutal in boxing history. Ali had effectively punished Frazier early on and Frazier could not maintain the pace necessary to finish the fight. Frazier had taken away Ali's legs and his ability to move and punished him against the ropes. He hit Ali with everything he had for five rounds but couldn't put him away. The final four rounds saw two proud warriors standing toe to toe and throwing everything they had at each other. There has never been a greater display of gameness between two individuals in the history of combat sports. Ultimately, Ali was in slightly better shape and was able to deliver more damage to FrazIer. Frazier's corner wisely stopped the fight after the fourteenth round. Both men executed their game plans brilliantly. Both men etched their names in history. Neither was ever the same again.