Use the jab to become a better MMA fighter

Even though the jab is mostly used in boxing, it has become a popular technique in mixed martial arts as well. Especially since the Georges St-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck fight at UFC 124. In that fight, GSP dominated his opponent by using stiff, accurate jabs to disturb and disorient Koscheck. He proved the viability of the jab in the Octagon, where MMA fighters usually preferred power punches like hooks and overhand rights over a more technical punch like the jab.

But how do you use the jab in mixed martial arts to beat your opponents? Here are some suggestions.

1) Test him with your jab.

Because the jab is one of the few techniques you can deliver without over-committing your weight, it is ideal to test your opponent's reflexes. Especially in the beginning of the fight, it can be a practical tool to gauge his reactions. Here is how you do it:

Use the jab from just outside of reach to see how he reacts to it. If he rushes you, you know he is either an aggressive fighter or he miscalculates the range of your jab. Now you can use the jab to lure him into closing the distance and have a hard counter waiting.

Stay just at the edge of his reach and then step in and out quickly with a stiff jab. This is a jolting shot to the head instead of a punch that bounces off without doing damage. Though it will probably not knock your opponent out, it will momentarily stop him from coming forward. You can then use this fraction of a second when he is seeing stars to launch another, more devastating technique or to step away and stay out of his reach again.

2) Use it to set up other techniques.

Because the jab is perhaps the fastest strike you can throw, it is perfect for setting up other techniques. You can use it to set up:

  • The right overhand, when your opponent does not react fast enough to your punch.
  • The right uppercut, when he ducks to evade your jab.
  • Leg kicks or kicks to the body, when he leans his head back to avoid getting hit.
  • The shoot for a takedown or throw, when he parries or blocks your jab.
  • The double jab, when he gets tired and is too slow to react to your second jab.
  • The lead hook, when he drops his rear hand after parrying your jab.

Once you get the timing right for the jab and the follow-up technique, add more techniques for a longer combination that does even more damage.

3) Create a fight-stopping injury.

A certain key to victory is giving your opponent an injury that either forces him to give up or one that makes it harder to defend himself. The jab is the perfect tool to achieve that goal because it is your most accurate weapon. You can use this accuracy to create a cut above the eyebrow, a swollen eye or a broken nose on your opponent. Try this:

  • Pick a target, depending on which part of his face your opponent leaves open the most. Let us take his left eye as an example.
  • Wait for the right opportunity and then snap a lightning quick jab right into his left eye. Do not go for power just yet but focus on speed and accuracy instead.
  • Next, throw the jab again at the exact same spot but this time, use a lot more power to do some damage. This stiff jab will surprise your opponent because the first one was not as hard and he will not expect such a hard impact.
  • Now alternate lightning-fast jabs with stiff jabs to keep him guessing. You will increase the swelling of his eye with every jab you throw and close in on victory step-by-step. Do not forget to mix it up with other techniques though, or he will counter you easily.

If you do not know how to throw a strong, stiff jab, check out this guide on how to increase your punching power and hit harder.