The Severe Spotlight: Nate Maness

Skill in the flyweight division runs amuck. For a long while it has been difficult to find a matchup at 125lb that has lacked in entertainment value or diversity of skill, regardless of divisional placement. There are fighters like Nate Maness who exist in that division, who is an excellent fighter but can go largely unnoticed. Even his opponent on the night, it is yet to be seen the level of his skill set. Given his first two assignments were highly touted prospect Javid Basharat and then the subject of this article, Maness.

Maness opened his account with a nice low kick, attempting to ward off a marauding Mendonca. Maness immediately shows poise and skill in his use of the whizzer as Mendonca goes searching on a double leg. Maness recognises the danger and misaligns his hips to ensure his outside leg can base, and as Mendonca looks to complete the first and second iteration of the takedown, Maness drives weight through his shoulder and continues to force Mendonca to engage in the dogfight position.

Finding his underhook, Maness leans heavy onto the frames of Mendonca who opts to pull a Kani-Basami style leg entry. An uncommon option in MMA but read perfectly well by Maness who ensures the initial safety of his leg but keeping his knee line free of his opponents. Mendonca attempts to swallow the knee line with his secondary leg, which he transitioned to a sweep attempt. Maness had his hips on the mat no more than a second before he pushed his weight back into Mendonca, in a single leg X variation.

Mendonca stays on the legs, looking to lock up a calf slicer. Maness cut a harsh angle to remove the weight from the triangle around his calf and builds up. Stuffing the wall wrestling from Mendonca he optimises his damage offence, landing a nice knee to the head of a leaning Mendonca, and a right hook to the floating rib. This is a difference in experience between the two. Maness understanding that damage is the primary objective of the contest, not positional control.

More hooks and more knees force a reaction from Mendonca, another scissor style Kani-Basami leg lock entry. Maness attempts to ride the entry the same way, but Mendonca has inverted through and locks up the leg of Maness into the saddle position. Maness opts for damage, and Mendonca goes searching for an inversion to gain heel exposure on the American. Maness keeps weight heavy through his right hip, via the right-hand post on the mat making the inversion difficult, keeping his toes connected to the mat.

Mendonca eats several shots as he switches his attention to the secondary leg, desperately trying to pull it tight to his chest to initiate a double-trouble position and create distance from the shots of Maness but also to attempt to secure attacks on the legs of Maness. Maness makes a small error which was to lift weight off his right leg, which Mendonca capitalises on, tipping him to his hips and eventually to a seated saddle position.

Acutely and impressively aware of the threat Maness now sets about using the dilemma he is in against Mendonca. He holds the left wrist of Mendonca with a cross grip, allowing him to pull his opponent up, as he launches right hands into his head. This is intelligent as he is aware that Mendonca does not want to relinquish the grip of his legs; firstly, because the leg position of Mendonca is not optimal for control, and secondly because if the forearm grip is loosened on the legs of Maness he will begin to escape.

Mendonca eventually frees the grip and wraps the legs in a leg lace. He begins searching for calf slice pressure, which does not get a reaction from Maness other than shots to the body. Two big left hooks rock Mendonca who looks to invert again to expose the heel. Maness keeps his weight centred and forces a closed guard from the Brazilian.

The moment he felt the legs open, Maness pops up to a combat base with his knee through the middle, denying a re-guard from Mendonca, then stands and lands two more huge shots from the top. For a moment it looks like the first puts Mendonca out before the second swiftly wakes him back up once more. Maness expertly takes a near shoulder post, forcing the right shoulder of Mendonca into the mat, ensuring that he cannot rotate away from the shots from the Maness right side, and bang away at the helpless Brazilian native.

A couple of extra shots force referee Chris Togoni to step in and save Mendonca from further punishment. That, is a performance that epitomises what a UFC level athlete is, primary adherence to the ruleset, measured, unaverred in his positional awareness, and lethal conviction and execution when the opportunities presented themselves.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.