The Severe Spotlight: Kevin Jousset

Another week leads to another impressive debutant performance. This time Kevin Jousset walked out on two weeks’ notice to open the UFC 293 card. A litter of local fighters propping up a main event that on paper, swung heavily to the hometown A side, but has the MMA community talking about whether the biggest upset in MMA history has been staged.

His opponent, a fellow debutant was Keifer Crosbie, a storied, tough, and experienced fighter a win over Cowboy Oliveira had earnt him the late notice call-up for this fight.

The initial glaring statement was the size difference between the pair, when tentatively measuring each other’s range, the 6”2 frame of Jousset stood prominently in front of the Irishman. A low kick the first offering to the outside achilles of Crosbie’s left leg.

Crosbie demanded respect by leaping into his own opening combinations, pushing Jousset back across the cage but solid circling and foot positioning mixed with some useful upper body feints brought the contest back to the centre of the octagon.

A well contested standup between the pair saw for an entertaining opening two minutes. The low kick and the piston jab the offensive items that worked well for Jousset, the low kick specifically forcing Crosbie to switch to the southpaw stance.

As Crosbie found the need to find a way through the jab, he began to aggressively force his way into the clinch situations. Being defensively aware of the judo credentials of Jousset, Crosbie looked to land hooks over the top. Jousset read the situations well and ensured that he was keeping the collar tie and left shoulder tight to the inside space and use the right hand for punishing uppercuts.

Jousset is not without his current skill limitations, there is range management elements that need to be worked on, his ability to fire out the piston jab as a deterrent should be upped more as a compromise to some of the speed deficiencies, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t take away from the good IQ he shows when selecting his shots. Crosbie switches to southpaw and looks to land a lead right hook, Jousset notices the shot coming and throws a right leg kick to the body, drifting his head off the centre line and out of the way of the hook.

The first real grappling exchange occurs with just over 30 seconds left on the clock. Jousset had forced Crosbie back with several nice jabs and a low kick. The Jousset presses his chest and hips into the exchange and is working with a collar tie and an underhook. He works himself to double underhooks after Crosbie elects to pepper the body of the Frenchman.

Crosbie had turned his left hip into the exchange for a moment, in what looked like a setup for an Uchi Mata throw, his right hand had taken a grip of the left elbow and his left bicep shot past the head of Jousset. However, Jousset expertly noticed the reaction, flared his left elbow to remove the potency of the grip, dropped his right elbow, moving his head and thus his weight deep into the opposite direction of the throw and pulled Crosbie down into a back bodylock turtle situation.

The contest hit the mat, and Crosbie was met with a right hook across the jaw, as the left hook of Jousset came in and strafed across the stomach. As Jousset cinched up the body triangle, he elongated his right arm so as to wrap the choke under the chin of Crosbie and locked a palm to palm grip. Crosbie attempted to roll to his back and began to work his fingers into the crease of the elbow to attempt to alleviate pressure. Jousset noticed this reaction, both hands on the choking arm elbow means no threat of stripping the hands, and Jousset moved onto to a regular configuration for a rear-naked choke and gets the tap.

Positional awareness and potency of submissions are a big upside. Being able to setup the choke with damage, and to ensure positional dominance with the beginning of the body triangle at the same time gives us some rope on which to tug on the future of Jousset. At 30 years of age we are going to see what his ceiling is quickly, but that’s not often a bad thing.

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