Ryan “The Wizard” Hall is living up to his nickname, with an unorthodox mix of lengthy striking and bold grappling continuing to leave opponents clueless in the octagon. As the wins rack up – and advisories are left scratching their heads – we ponder the question: Is Ryan Hall engineering a significant shift within the sport?
Coming off the back of his dominant three round decision win over Darren Elkins, Hall is sat on an 8-1 record. He’s now unbeaten in his last for bouts, with victories over BJ Penn, Gray Maynard and Artem Lobov adding to his outing this past weekend. Perhaps most impressively, Hall has done much of his best work from standing, where he’s managed to out-strike everyone; not bad for a Jiu Jitsu guy…
And it is Ryan’s completely unique range of striking and grappling that makes him such an interesting prospect. His mix of kicks and feints allow him to rack-up significant strikes from a distance – subtly winning the fight – while using leg lock entries to not only hunt for the finish, but remove himself from mid / close range striking exchanges. It’s a style most fighters will struggle to replicate in their training, which makes Ryan Hall a challenging foe. For anyone.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the key factors that Ryan Hall has been implementing in his bouts and why it makes him so unique.
KICKING GAME = RANGE
Ryan throws more kicks than punches, and you can’t really blame him. His karate stance sets up plenty of opportunities to throw a wide range of kicks from distance. He rarely kicks to the legs, instead preferring side kicks and spinning attacks (which we saw in full force during his latest bout with Elkins). Hall uses kicks frequently, almost like a jab, to rack up significant strikes and maintain distance. He can use spinning attacks without the fear of being taken down, as no one (so far) has been willing to go to the mat with him.
LEG LOCK ENTRIES FORCE A RESET
Ryan’s leg lock entries have been implemented perfectly so far in his UFC career. BJ Penn saw what can happen in ‘best case scenario’ for Hall, but his imanari roll set-up offers so much more than just the potential tap. Hall has used the rolling attack to sweep his opponent and end up on top, but also as a way to avoid a mid range striking exchange. Anytime Ryan finds his distance compromised and he cannot use foot work and mobility to escape, he is more than happy to change levels and hunt for a leg lock. Most importantly, Hall’s imanari rolls force his opponent’s to abandon their striking and either engage in grappling (ill advised) or allow Hall to stand up and reclaim his distance.
ACTIVE WITH UP KICKS
Ryan uses his long legs to his advantage once he’s on the mat, throwing regular up kicks. He also does a great job of chopping away at an opponent’s legs from a seats position so that when they are throwing kicks towards his legs, he is able to block most of them. This means judges don’t really see Hall to be absorbing damage while seated.
FOOTWORK AND MOBILITY
Ryan rarely finds himself in dangerous range, and that is down to his great footwork and mobility. He is constantly on the move; avoiding ‘mid range’ and throwing from a distance. He does a fantastic job of dominating the pace of fight purely through his distance management and only engaging with his leg lock entries when he chooses to.
HAPPY TO PULL GUARD
When Hall’s opponents have chosen to rush forward in an attempt to close distance, he is more than comfortable in pulling guard. In doing so, he manages to avoid any significant strikes from his opponents as they push forward, then leaving them with the prospect of entering a grappling exchange on the floor, or allowing Hall back to his feet – which also returns the range advantage to Hall.
NO FEAR OF THE TAKEDOWN
Though Jiu Jitsu fighters want the fight to go to the ground, you could argue that many would still not concede bottom position within MMA. The addition of strikes makes playing guard a whole new endeavour, with only the absolute best Jiu Jitsu athletes truly feeling comfy attacking from the bottom. Ryan is undoubtably one of those athletes, so he has absolutely no concerns about being taken down in his fights. Removing the concern of being taken down means he can get creative with his striking – specifically his wheel kicks and spinning back fists.
With Hall keen to get another fight in this year, we can’t wait to see what the UFC throws his way. Whoever his next opponent will be, they must prepare for one of the trickiest encounters they’ll probably ever have inside the octagon.
— UFC News (@UFCNews) 10 July 2019