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Is this a standard technique to avoid being hit in the head (from a counter punch) or am I seeing things?

If they duck, why can't the other fighter anticipate their move and kick or aim punch at a downward angle so they land?

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    This seems like a case of fighters telegraphing their move. Can you link to any specific video that illustrates your question? – slugster Apr 8 '19 at 1:26
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That technique is called an "Overhand Right".

The more common right (assuming an orthodox stance) is just a "straight right". Both punches have their advantages and disadvantages. One advantage to the straight right is maintaining your position. You don't need to put yourself out there and risk counters. Your right shoulder blocks your right cheek, and your left hand can stay up to block your left cheek. Very safe technique.

The main advantage for the overhand right is power and distance. You can generate a ton of power and distance on an overhand right that can't be matched by a straight punch. The reason you see the head ducking down is to get that distance, but more so to protect your face. You're opening yourself up more throwing a more arcing punch, so you duck your face down to hide your jaw/face.

The second big advantage of the overhand right is it's deceptive. It's harder to see coming than a straight right because you're leading with your head/left shoulder. It also arcs in a way that's harder to see than a straight punch. A common setup is faking a jab into an overhand right.

Another advantage of the overhand right is shooting! My personal favorite shot is off an overhand right. You throw a big ol' wild one, but you don't care if it connects or not, because your head isn't coming back up. You're shooting in on the legs for a single leg, double leg, high crotch, or other takedown attempts. This technique is used at high level MMA by some of the best. Georges St-Pierre used this technique. Chris Weidman uses this. Dan Henderson probably did this technique every fight of his life, and got a few knockouts from it! It's arguably the most dangerous move in a "wrestleboxer" style fighter's arsenal.

And lastly, yes, the other fighter could anticipate this. New guys try to counter with an uppercut, which rarely works. The best counter is a knee to the face. The problem is you better get a KO out of it, or the guy is almost certainly getting in on your legs. The safer "counter" is to jump back for a "crack back", or if you know your opponent is a wrestler, get a head start on your sprawl.

Here's an instructional video on the last technique I mentioned. This guy doesn't stress ducking the head that much, but you can see it's still part of the technique that leads to the takedown.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbmp8FmQuEQ

Here's the man himself pulling off one of the most famous overhands in MMA history:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh7F4HXH8uA

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