Being able to take hard shots is a quality all fighters need but it is far better to be able to ride a shot or dodge it completely allowing you to counter attack and punish your opponent. The rules of a fight (if any) will dictate what kind of movements and counters are going to be useful or down right dangerous. In no particular order here we have 10 world class counter fighters who have mastered their particular style of counter fighting.
1. Roy Jones Jr. (Boxer)
In his 63 professional bouts he had 55 wins with 40 coming by way of knockout. Well known for his cocky attitude towards his opponents and backing it up with slick footwork and often blistering combinations, I personally love that he was able to counter while moving forwards, something you don’t see as often now in any style.
2. Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan (K1 and Muay Thai)
Winner of the revered K-1 Max title in both 2009 and 2010, Giorgio he earned his nickname “The Doctor” through his amazing technical ability and seemingly impregnable defence. He is a southpaw fighter that uses slight head movements and brilliant footwork to set up his devastating counter attacks, in my opinion of the the best K1 fighters to date and one of the best counter fighters of all time.
3. Nicolino “The untouchable” Locche (Boxer)
Here is a man cut from another cloth, with 122 amateur fights and 136 professional with 117 wins! It would be impossible to get through so many fights constantly absorbing shots, this is where “The Untouchable” really showed his mastery, often slipping shots with his hands down or talking to people outside the ring. Nicolino was able to exhaust and frustrate his opponents, if you want to learn something about defence, watch this guy.
4. Anderson “The Spider” Silva (Mixed Martial Arts)
A man who’s name is known world wide for his dominance in the UFC middleweight category, he has an eclectic background in martial arts making him an unusual fighter to come against, this is why so many people struggle with his striking. Whether he is knocking out Forest Griffin with a jab that broke his face or completely humiliating Damien Maia it is his timing, distancing and range of techniques that allow him to use such effective counter strikes.
5. Miguel “Happy” Lora (Boxer)
Miguel Lora is a retired boxer from Columbia, he was able to move and hit in way like no other, staying on the ropes for extended periods often dodging everything that is thrown at him while remaining directly in front of the other fighter. Another thing I love about Miguel is that he was so fit he would often make a point of standing between rounds, often smiling and pointing to his mouth to show he was only breathing through his nose.
6. Jomthong Chuwattana (Muay Thai)
This 23 year old wizard from Chuwattana camp in Bangkok weighs only 57kg (125.6lbs) but he hits like a truck. I had the experience of training with him back in 2009 when he was only 19 and he was already incredible then, starting his fighting career at the age of 8 certainly helped! He’s a nimble fighter well known for his powerful left leg but he is also very good with his head movement in particular his boxing defence. He’s had 227 professional Muay Thai bouts and 4 pro boxing matches too, this all plays into his advanced style with wicked counters.
7. “Iron” Mike Tyson (Boxer)
A man who needs no introduction, Mike was always known for his unbelievable power but it was his superior defensive ability that allowed him to launch such unrestrained attacks. He made the best fighters in the world miss before doing the most damage, even as an amateur he was devastatingly fast, there is little more I can say about this man, one of the greatest fighters of all time.
8. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (Mixed Martial Arts)
Lyoto is one of my favourite MMA fighters as I am from a traditional Karate background and I love to see his style adapted and well employed in the cage. His karate and sumo background give him footwork like no other UFC fighter, he is able to knock people out going forwards or backwards, oftentimes striking people as they move to attack he is able to get much more impact as they move onto his shots. An elusive fighter with some of the best counter attacks in MMA.
9. Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali (Boxer)
Another of boxing’s giants, Ali is well known for his bravery inside and outside of the ring and any skilled defensive fighters list would be incomplete without him. For a heavyweight boxer his footwork and hand speed was unheard of, these attributes allowed him to set up excellent angles and strike before his target was fully prepared, he was a truly amazing fighter.
10. Yodsanklai “The Boxing Wizard” Fairtex (Muay Thai)
Here is a fighter who can stand right in front of you unflinching and happy to let you throw the 1st shot. Narrowly slipping shots and catching kicks are his main methods of starting counter attack, when you consider his amazing power it’s no surprise that most of his knockdowns are from counter shots or while he has his opponent on 1 leg. He also took the Lumpinee stadium belt at 2 weights which is no small feat!