Giorgio Petrosyan: Diagnosing the Doctor

Giorgio Petrosyan
Photo courtesy of ONE Championship

It is a few months shy of 10 years since Giorgio Petrosyan won his first K-1 Max title. Since then, Petrosyan has proven time and time again that he is the best, and while he may have slipped up recently, he is not done just yet.

On July 12th, 2019, he returns to ONE kickboxing to rectify his claim as the best after a controversial first fight with Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy. In this article, I will be diagnosing the doctor. By discussing his strengths, I hope to bring to light why he struggled with Petchmorakot.

Giorgio Petrosyan Breakdown

Anatomy of the Doctor

Petrosyan is a defense-first fighter. On the surface, that sounds quite boring. However, Petrosyan is far from boring. Firstly, he usually comes forward; as a southpaw, he will look to punt his opponent’s midsection with body kicks. Against other southpaws, he leads with his jab and low kicks.

Notice how Petrosyan constantly brings his lead foot up and down. This is called the horse trot, it is used for both defense and offense.
The horse trot can lead either into a low kick check, a teep, or a big step forward. Either way, it gets his opponent thinking.

What makes Petrosyan’s defense work so well is that by coming forward, his opponents have to engage with him. This is where he works his magic.

Defusing Close Range

Against fighters that like to come forward with their gloves up, Petrosyan is constantly touching their guard. He showed this against the smaller Robin van Roosmalen.

From there Petrosyan will start to chain his defensive techniques.

Petrosyan is constantly looking to touch and pivot off of van Roosmalen’s lead hand.
Notice how Petrosyan ties down the lead hand before he pivots and kicks. This is so that van Roosmalen cannot throw his left while Petrosyan is in motion.
If van Roosmalen forgoes his guard and fights Petrosyan’s hands, he gets tied up.
Petrosyan lands a knee here because van Roosmalen is so concerned about being tied up.

By either pushing off, pivoting or tying up van Roosmalen, Petrosyan was able to keep the fight at his preferred range, where he can throw his offense.

Offense For the Sake of Offense

From mid-range, Petrosyan loves his body kick and low kick variations.

Petrosyan throws the body kick, into the rear teep. Both of these start the same way. After that, he feints his hips and pivots out to throw an outside low kick.

Petrosyan also prefers to throw either the 1-2 or 3-2 combination. That is the jab-straight or lead hook-straight.

Notice how Petrosyan drops his weight into his lead foot. This is crucial to the next step of his offense. But it also provides a harder hitting punch.

While Petrosyan can throw other punches like the uppercut or body hook, he primarily sticks to what he does best – blasting his opponents with the lead hook to left hand or left straight to right hook.

Petrosyan loves to use his lead hook by itself to pivot off of it. By doing so, it allows him to increase the range of his opponent’s right hand, and give him the angle to punch back.

All this offense is reserved in nature. When Petrosyan kicks from mid-range, he is always prepared for returning offense. Likewise, when Petrosyan is punching in combination, he is always looking to lean back. The next step is what makes Petrosyan’s style work.

Turning Defense into Offense

The common logic in kickboxing is – when one is kicked, kick back. If one is punched, punch back. This logic is what feeds Petrosyan his counters. When he kicks an opponent to the leg, he expects a low kick in return.

Petrosyan expecting the low kick catches it and pays Sato back with a hard left hand.

By catching the kick, he will pull the leg to his center and throw a hard left hand while dropping the leg. This leaves his opponents off balance and eating a hard punch.

See how Petrosyan drags the caught leg to the center, in order to shorten the distance of his rear hand.

He does this constantly, discouraging his opponent’s kicks. If his opponent decides to then punch in combination, Petrosyan loads his weight into his lead leg and begins to counter.

Petrosyan always leans over his left straight. This is so that he can lean and pivot off. After that, he uses his right hand to pull and feel where his opponent is.
Notice how much Petrosyan holds in between his combinations. It is so that, he can gauge whether or not he wants to lean back or keep striking.

When his opponent is passive, Petrosyan will come forward with the same idea in mind -punch and wait for the counter.

Petrosyan takes some shots, however, he is constantly looking to counter.

The Aging Doctor

In diagnosing the doctor we can understand his recent kickboxing run. By coming forward and throwing strikes at his opponent’s guard, Petrosyan knows that he can counter their return strikes. Therefore, Petrosyan is constantly working to reduce his opponent’s strikes to a few combinations, which makes it even easier to counter.

Petrosyan would find this strategy effective for the vast majority of his career, and while his knockouts weren’t common, his ability to destroy and neuter his opponent’s offense is legendary.

However, in recent years, Petrosyan seems to have fallen in love with the power of his punches. This was especially noticeable in his ONE kickboxing fights.

Striking Without Purpose

Petrosyan has found that his punches carry far more weight than they had in his earlier years. Maybe it is because he has gotten more aggressive, or it could be because he favors power punching.

Notice how hard Petrosyan swings. His hooks now carry him out of position. However, his head movement has become far more refined against punches.

By being more active punching, Petrosyan has become far more hittable and forced into more clinches.

No longer looking to pivot for his next combination, Petrosyan is far more hittable when punching. His handsy approach to boxing has also left him more open in the clinch when his arms are tied up.

The Petchmorakot Fight

In the now controversial Petchmorakot fight, Petrosyan came out looking to slip Petch’s lead side. With both fighters as southpaws, Petrosyan was denied the typical strategy of blasting left to right hands. Now, he had to slip to the side, and throw with his right to left.

From the get-go Petrosyan was not entering on his punches from kicks, but rather purely punching.

Petrosyan was blasting Petch around the ring. He was also catching the vast majority of Petch’s kicks with ease and returning with his typical counters.

Notice how much Petrosyan is over swinging, WITHOUT any prior setups.

It was clear Petrosyan won the first round and had the strength advantage. But Petch was beginning to find his opening.

Petrosyan, because he was overswinging was easily drawn into clinches and forced to stand centered.
Because Petrosyan wanted to punch hard and deny clinches he was more stationary and centered. This let Petch throw dozens of jabs that would be the key to his victory.

In the second round, Petchmorakot adjusted and exploited Petrosyan’s new found love for boxing.

Petch found that every time he tried to grab Petrosyan, he would back up. So Petch, would feint a grab, and throw punches from above.
Petch found that Petrosyan was not going to parry his jab. This was because Petrosyan wanted to swing with his left. Therefore, Petch could jab Petrosyan in the eye and clash into the clinch.
Petrosyan, rather than pin down an arm and pivot out would swing and try to punch his way out. Petch simply braced the punches and kept clinching harder.

Petrosyan was stuck in Petchmorakot’s rhythm and would go on to to lose a close decision. For most, this was controversial based on the decision alone. However, ONE would later go on and call a the fight a no contest, stating that Petchmorakot overused the clinch. While I find the precedent of an organization changing the result of a fight later on to be gross, frankly, I could not care less as we get another fight between these two.

Conclusion

Giorgio Petrosyan has been at the top of the world in kickboxing for almost a decade and could very much continue his dominance. While his loss to Petchmorakot was strange and out of character, I could very much see Petrosyan returning to his old ways.

Their second fight will draw far more attention than the first based on the controversy alone. I just hope that it brings out the old Petrosyan and once again we get to see “The Doctor”.

However, if Petrosyan has not changed, then maybe diagnosing the Doctor may have been too late and he may have fallen ill to his own greatness.

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