The Severe Spotlight: Sam Patterson

How a fighter reacts after a loss tells us much about who they are as a character, but also gives us an insight into their ceilings. When Sam Patterson made his way to the UFC via his second-round finish in the Dana White Contender Series, he was matched against Yanal Ashmouz which turned out to be one of the viral knockouts of the year.

Those 75 seconds of fighting curtailed a 10-fight unbeaten streak, and not the start he had envisioned to his UFC career. Secondly, suffering a knockout like that, seen by millions, shared by thousands and impossible to hide away from – asks questions of a fighter’s character.

Do they have the humility to accept the loss? Do they have the grit and determination to move past that type of loss and to rebuild their confidence? Will that loss, that type of loss haunt them for the rest of their career?

UFC 297 saw Patterson matched with a tough Canadian hitter in Yohan Lainesse. Lainesse destroyed European prospect Justin Burlinson to make his way to the UFC. Whilst losing his own UFC debut, his only other loss under the promotion was to Mike Mallot, and there is no shame in that result. Lainesse was to be fighting in his home country, with everything that an occasion like that means to a fighter from the soil that enriches Canadian lands. A tough outing for the British man.

However, in just 123 seconds Patterson submits Lainesse with a rear naked choke.

Patterson strutted out to the centre of the cage with a calm assurance, the bigger man in frame and in length. Defensively he was aware and looked to find the check left hook early as Lainesse looked to size up the range of his opponent.

The jab got to work early, and a knee on the back leg was shown to Lainesse who smartly darted from the pocket to avoid it. The gameplan on the feet was obvious for Patterson after the first minute – if Lainesse attempted to burst into the pocket, the check left hook would be waiting for him. If not, the jab would hunt him down, and the threat of the long-range kicks would buoy and curtail the Lainesse movement.

At the 3:50 mark, Lainesse manages to clip Patterson with an overhand right, a similar shot to the one that ended his UFC debut so dramatically. A fleeting moment of panic flashed across the eyes of Petterson – but no sooner had it appeared, did the prominent mental toughness of Patterson take over, calm ensued and a check hook thrown Lainesse’s way, just in case of an advancement.

Lainesse closes the distance and Patterson with that reach advantage sinks his weight and takes an over under grip. He baits Lainesse to take the back to the left hand side, which the Canadian dutifully takes. Patterson uses this to switch his base and move to the front headlock. Immediately snapping Lainesse down to a front head lock.

The general battle here surrounds beating the elbow that inside the front headlock with the upper body. Attacks on the back can ensue when you have managed to get behind the elbows. Patterson wins that battle by using a gable grip around the tricep of Lainesse and placing his left knee around the corner. Lainesse thinks about trying to sucker drag the chinstrap grip of Patterson in order to turn the corner and square up, but Patterson locks a far thigh pry to begin with, before switching to a wrist ride.

Here he switches his knees in order to win his bottom hook and uses his secondary leg to torque the near leg of Lainesse, making it difficult to keep a solid structure in the turtle. Patterson doesn’t bother with both hooks and instead opts for a high-ball ride configuration of hip control. Punching his choking arm across the chin he locks his arms in place over the jaw, pulling through and under Lainesse’s lower jaw to force the head up and expose the neck.

Grimacing, Lainesse taps almost instantly.

Fantastic comeback win for Patterson, and pastures are green once again in the UFC.

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