Meet ‘The Foot’
Meet Welsh Welterweight Lewis ‘The Foot’ Long, the yoga instructor and Bellator fighter from Wales. Before signing with Bellator, he was tempted to retire and coach yoga full-time. We hear this story a lot from MMA fighters. Anderson Silva famously was convinced by Nogueira not to retire young, and that was well before Anderson’s historic run in the UFC.
Long revealed that the day his Cage Warriors contract was up, Bellator called him and he continued on his journey. He is fond of the pay raise as well as being allowed his own sponsors at Bellator. While his striking is solid, he seems to be using his flexibility as a weapon more and more. Most of his wins are by submission and he attributes his ability to hit them from lots of angles to his yoga practice.
Cultural Influxes in MMA
Lewis is not high-profile, even in Bellator, but it’s always important to highlight talents from every region. Fans will dismiss, roll their eyes etc. at a fighter from an unfamiliar region, but Wales is worth keeping an eye on. Brazilians and Americans took the spotlight first, but every region has its time. The UFC Strawweights have their first Chinese champion. The GSP led the Canadian movement, New Zealand is coming on strong on the coattails of Australia, McGregor made sure that everyone paid attention to Ireland and Bisping kept English fighters relevant for a decade while their other stars were developing.
The idea of the United Kingdom is nice, but it is important that Wales gets its own spotlight instead of being overshadowed by the U.K. banner. Long is from Pontypridd, Wales. Like fighters around the world, it has a blue-collar history, including chain-making and coal-mining. Towns like these develop grit in its people unlike posh areas tainted by materialism.
Long can have an aggressive style when he feels he needs to, but his striking defense still needs improvement. Sometimes, he tries to force grappling exchanges. While grappling is his strength, forcing has harmed him before. Long can sometimes develop a pattern of reaching which then results in him biting on feints and kicks that are normally easy to see coming.
Once he gets a hold of guys, however, he has good pace and rhythm with his grappling. He will not necessarily disengage if he gets reversed. Instead, he may choose to look to gain position and chain his attacks together to get his opponents back onto the canvas. It does not look all that graceful, but Long is able to score takedowns in an opportunistic manner.
He can hit a suplex with relative ease once his belly is on a fighter’s rib cage. Hitting singles from against the cage is also something he does well. Long does not use an explosive single leg drag or direction change. Instead, he will shift their weight against the cage and just allow them to fall. Anyone watching can tell that he is not very physically strong. He himself is also aware of that, which is why he hits takedowns quickly and changes positions frequently. It’s the smart thing to do for his style and physical ability. Grappling-wise, he reminds me of Stevie Ray.
The athleticism is just not there, but Lewis Long can win a lot of fights off of sheer will-power without taking too much of a beating. As more and more of their top athletes come into the sport, we will see more and more of this chain-grappling at the elite level of the sport. Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tim Elliot, and Demetrious Johnson are some of the best examples of this today. Overall, though, Wales has a lot over English MMA in terms of grappling. The English seem to shine the brightest in boxing and kickboxing, so an exchange of skills between martial artists is going to rapidly improve the skillset of that entire region.
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