The Severe Spotlight: Jalin Turner

UFC 276 saw the return of stacked par-per-view cards to International Fight Week. Israel Adesanya retained the 185lb crown with a win over Jared Cannonier that drew much controversy. Alexander Volkanovski retained his 145lb crown with a dominant masterclass over Hawaii’s Max Holloway. In what seemed to be a mini-middleweight tournament for the next shot at Israel’s title, Alex Pereira and Andre Muniz won their respective semi-final brackets.

Alex Pereira, with all the media push behind him will likely get the shot, with Andre Muniz likely to fight one of the perennial contenders at 185lb.

The card itself fell flat on what on paper, and in times in practice felt like a gargantuan card with a plethora of storylines and opportunities for athletes to showcase their skills. One of the athletes that shone the brightest is the owner of this week’s spotlight: Jalin Turner.

Whilst the California native made quick work of his assignment on the night, he showed the vast swathes of potential that he possesses. At 155lb’s a height of 6”3 is rare, combined with a 75.5” reach gives a unique frame and provides a unique problem for his opponents.

He rode into the fight with Brad Riddell on Saturday night aloft a healthy steed of a 4 fight, 4 finish streak, looked to have turned a corner since his defeat to Matt Frevola on the undercard of UFC 236.

Bounding out to the centre of the octagon adopting his usual southpaw stance it was evident from the first exchange just how much of a factor the range was going to be. Turner, still in the middle of the octagon throws a back leg teep at Riddell who, whilst avoiding the kick, was only one stance step away from the fence.

Turner and Riddell were on the same page of the reads book and logged it in their own anthologies.

Riddell looked to adjust by trying to cut an angle, and find his way out, Turner showing the first sign of his versatility, cut the cage off with a reset and stance switch, moving from southpaw to orthodox, cutting off Riddell’s first line of exit. In 24 seconds, he has sewn an allotment patch of dilemma’s without landing a strike. Range, pressure, and effective exits. Riddell wants to be inside the pocket to mitigate the length, Turner shows the teeps. Riddell wants to find an exit route on his own terms, Turner uses hit footwork to offer no such route.

So where does that leave us?

That leaves Brad Riddell forced to make a swift calculation of risk and make a choice that will offer Jalin Turner something to read, that will offer a tell into his personality as to what choice he makes under pressure. Turner goads him into rushing that decision by faking his way further into range. An upper body feint whilst strafing to his left. Riddell shows his character and tries to fight his way out of the dilemma the only way he knows how – forward.

Turner at this point has the angle, and counters Riddell’s low kick with a perfect right hand. Aware of the power, and having being punished for his first attempt, Riddell’s second attempt at forward fighting is a clinch to a level change. Frame and reach was something mentioned earlier which causes Turner to be a unique problem. As Riddell level changes Turner is sprawling, finding his right overhook, framing his left forearm into the face of Riddell to minimise the penetration to the hips, and quickly turns the corner and wraps the neck.

Long arms mean guillotines, d’arces and anaconda’s from stuffed takedown shots. Turner with his arm-in guillotine grip runs Riddell to the mat, initially landing in a butterfly situation., the beauty of this finish is Turner’s awareness of his own body. He uses his head as an anchor for his base, that allows him to pummel his right lag out of the butterfly hook, and landing himself into a mounted guillotine, from here, he uses the guillotine motion of retracting your shoulder to bend the neck and head into the choking forearm, combined with his head, to open the right side of his body, and remove the overhook and connect his hands for a more traditional guillotine grip.

With his shoulder retracted, his mount set, and his grips together he begins to bridge his hips into (aided by his grapevine legs lifting), Riddell’s stomach, further accentuating the choke. Riddell who was unable to hand fight the choke effectively, was forced to tap.

Versatility is an exciting trait in MMA fighters, versatility means that at the bedrock, at the foundational level of a fighter’s skillset, they are confident in their ability to fight anywhere. Confidence to fight anywhere makes a fighter dangerous. Jalin Turner, albeit in a 45 second window, was able once again to prove that his versatility is a serious weapon in his arsenal. Southpaw, orthodox, striking, clinching, defensive grappling, or submission offence, he can go wherever you want him too.

Welcome to the modern era of MMA, everyone.

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