Headlining BRACE 42 is a featherweight clash between Jamie Mullarkey and Luke Catubig. Both fighters are regarded as two of the most exciting fighters in the country. With only four fights going to the judges’ scorecards out of 21 fights between them this bout is set to be an explosive display of mixed martial arts.
Mullarkey comes into this bout looking to rebound from the first loss of his career to Alex Volkanovski. At only 21 years of age you can’t rest assured that Mullarkey will be looking to once again assert his dominance in the cage.
However Catubig is the riding the momentum of a trademark first round finish of Kris Spence. Catubig will be looking to his heavy hands to secure another win in the cage against the talented youngster.
Both fighters are truly exciting to watch but what are the nuances of the techniques and strategies they use that give them the edge in the cage? What are their tendencies that their opponents can look to exploit? BRACE’s Jake Crane takes a look at what makes each of these fighters so exciting to watch.
The biggest attribute of Mullarkey’s fighting style is his diverse aggression. He will look to establish himself in the centre of the cage and push forward with a maelstrom of different techniques. It’s pretty hard to define his key striking techniques because he throws a lot of different combinations: roundhouse kicks, front leg kicks to the legs, body, and head, jab-straight combos, jab-hook combos, even lead hand hook-straight combos, and so on. However if we get out the microscope we can begin to observe a couple of techniques that he has found success with.
The first is the uppercut. Mullarkey will throw the traditional rear hand uppercut as well as the lead hand uppercut, and has dropped multiple opponents with it. Mullarkey also has a lot of success off the 3-2, or lead hand hook/right straight combination. While his striking is effective in itself, it becomes a real handful combined with his forward pressure and relentless grappling game.
Mullarkey won’t necessarily look for the takedown, but will instead jump on the opportunity to impose himself on the ground if the opportunity presents itself. In fact this describes his ground game pretty well. Mullarkey does a good job of combining his aggression with smart decision making on the mat. If he has an opportunity to land some ground and pound or attempt a submission he will, but he won’t sacrifice position for them. Instead if he is losing position he will attempt to consolidate and attack again.
There are however, like every fighter, negatives to Mullarkey’s game. The first is his aggression with his striking. While he is mostly patient with his strikes, sometimes he will leap in and slightly lose his balance, leaving him open to counter strikes and takedowns. Previously this has been of little consequence as he has been able to utilise his strong counter wrestling and striking defense to negate the disadvantage. However, Volkanovski was able to exploit this and land strikes and takedowns as Mullarkey leaped in.
Mullarkey also seems to struggle if he is repeatedly taken down. Volkanovski was able to take him down several times, the effect of which was to stop Mullarkey from coming forwards aggressively, putting him on the back foot. By stemming a lot of Mullarkey’s offense, Volkanovski was able to effectively implement his own game plan.
Catubig’s fighting style is all about power and speed, combined in a vicious forward pushing punching blitz. This is not to say that he lacks any refined technical prowess, moreover Catubig has refined his craft into a deadly first round destructive apparatus. This can be seen in all five of his victories which were finished by TKO or KO.
At the first opportunity Catubig will rush forward with athleticism and throw out a range of punches at speed. However Catubig doesn’t just generate power from his forward movement, he also really sits down on his punches, throwing all of his body weight behind them. His style is kind of comparable to a combination of Chuck Liddell and Tyron Woodley. Think the forward power bursts of Woodley, coupled with the multiple strikes of Liddell, all intended to finish the fight.
What Catubig also has in abundance is heart. In a lot of his fights he will constantly look for the finish and therefore start to gas pretty quickly after the first round. However what he has consistently shown is the ability to hold on through tough positions, even if he is losing the fight. In several of Catubig’s fights you can watch him lose rounds, only to sweep his opponent and land heavy ground and pound in the last thirty seconds.
Catubig has traditionally struggled if the fight goes past the first round. However that first round is going to be five minutes of forward blitzing power punching hell, which is always going to be hard to deal with.
Catch all the action live from AIS Arena, Canberra on 13 August or on UFC Fight Pass from 2pm (AEST). Tickets available through TicketTek.