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Team Alpha Male
’s Andre Fili
will face one of the toughest tests of his career when he takes on
Michael
Johnson
in the
UFC Fight Night 135
co-main event on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank
Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Fili has rattled off back-to-back
victories for the first time since joining the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
roster in October 2013 and could
conceivably vault into the Top 15 at 145 pounds with a decisive win
over Johnson.

This installment of The Film Room focuses on Fili’s techniques and
strategies.

Fili may be best known for his being called a homophobic slur by
Conor
McGregor
in 2017, but many believe he has the tools to contend
in the featherweight division. He started his mixed martial arts
career at the age of 18 and has developed into one of the more
well-rounded fighters in the 145-pound weight class during his
five-year run in the UFC.

The most intriguing aspect of Fili’s striking is the power he
possesses with seemingly soft punches. At times, the hooks he lands
do not look like clean connections, but they still have enough
power behind them to finish the fight. Having fight-ending power in
your strikes is an odd intangible in combat sports, and no one
really understands it yet. Some fighters are seemingly born with
it, and Fili has it in spades.

Fili does not just have power in his hands. He has proven to be an
active kicker and dropped Artem Lobov
with a picture-perfect head kick, his shin landing right on the
temple. Fili often gets caught in the moment and tends to favor his
boxing, but when he settles into a comfortable groove, he will mix
in kicks to keep opponents guessing.

Fili also possesses a beautiful jab that he does not utilize nearly
enough. He likes to jab while taking a v-step to his left to set up
his right hand, but he also uses it to stop his opponent’s forward
movement, as he did against Lobov. Earlier in his career, Fili
tended to become overzealous and wound up tossing technique to the
side in favor of standing and trading. However, his performance
against Lobov showed he can keep his emotions in check and follow a
game plan without getting distracted or caught in the moment. Few
fighters would have kept themselves under control with McGregor
screaming at them for 15 minutes, but Fili did so and authored the
best performance of his career.

Another interesting aspect of Fili’s game is his ability to catch
kicks and either strike or secure a takedown off of them. Like
Johnson, Fili likes to counter in combination. Against Jeremy
Larsen
, he caught a kick and countered with a four-punch volley
instead of one precision strike.

Fili may be known more for his striking prowess, but he is an
underrated grappler. He rarely goes for offensive takedowns, but he
is adept at making his opponents overextend before shooting at the
hips while they are off-balance. Not only does this make takedowns
easier to secure, but it makes opponents wary of coming forward
with strikes, even if Fili cannot control them on the ground.


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