0:11: Lariats are not very useful for getting in in this match. High tiger shots beat low tiger shots, and both tiger shots beat both lariats in their recovery frames. But since Sagat’s tiger shots move so fast and he has so little startup/recovery, you can actually successfully lariat through a tiger shot only to get hit by a 2nd on your recovery.
0:24: This should have just been a jumping fierce, crouching short xx ex hand combo. No reason to press your luck in the number of hits you can land.
0:44: I like how Ultra’s dealing with Paul’s tiger shots here. He’s doing crouching forward under the high ones, which ducks under them while still moving Gief forward, and he’s only jumping over the low ones at safe ranges. Take the tiger shot at :41, for example. If Ultra had jumped here, he probably would have gotten a roundhouse or tiger uppercut for his troubles, either an ex one, which would beat his jump-ins, or a regular one, which would probably trade and lead to a juggle. In both cases, Ultra would be out of life and out of range. If Ultra does lariat here, he’s gonna get normaled by Paul, and if he’s not quite in range for ex green hand to hit Paul through a tiger. And walking up and blocking tiger shots isn’t gonna move forward, either, the shots have too much pushback and Paul can do them too frequently for that to work. This is a bad spot for Zangief to be in. Ultra solves this by letting the tiger shots push him back to a range where he can jump in safely, leaving himself just a little closer than he was before. He’s careful not to jump in with an attack, since that would have made Gief’s hitbox a little bigger and more susceptible to antiair tiger shots, toward+roundhouses, and tiger uppercuts. Indeed, if he’d done jumping forward kick or fierce, Paul’s toward+roundhouse very well might have tagged him. Instead, Ultra’s in a better position that he was before, and all he had to give up to do it was a small amount of chip damage, which is well worth it.
1:00: Ugh, Ultra could have ended the round right here. Paul has just whiffed an ex dragon punch and Ultra’s right behind him; if Ultra does dash up ultra right now, with that full ultra meter, it might very well have been enough to take the round. Instead Ultra inexplicably does a jumping short, which whiffs. This should pretty much be the end of the round. It’s really hard for Gief to get in on a running Sagat without taking at least a bit of chip damage, and at this point chip damage is all Paul needs to deal.
1:11: Oh, man. Ultra manages to get in without taking damage and even knocks Paul down with ex hand on reaction to Paul’s ex knee, but then he jumps in with ultra, hoping that Paul would sit still on wakeup after seeing his ex uppercut whiff through Ultra’s crossup on Paul’s last wakeup. This is a really all or nothing gamble; if it works, Ultra wins the round, and if it doesn’t, Paul recovers first and just has to breath on Ultra to kill him. It doesn’t work, so Paul takes it.
1:52: Ultra knows the range for standing roundhouse to ultra pretty well, and this is like max max range. I’m not sure if Paul doesn’t expect the ultra (since Ultra did standing roundhouse and crouching forward near him in the previous round without trying the ultra) or if he just doesn’t think Ultra’s in range, but regardless, he gets spun for half his life.
2:02: If you notice, Ultra’s jumping short actually stuffs Paul’s wakeup dragon punch, but unfortunately it doesn’t have enough hitstun for Ultra to be able to combo after. Ultra knows that his crouching jabs aren’t hitting, but he also is pretty sure that Paul’s holding up-back to try to jump out, and he knows that if he lets Paul get out here, he’s gonna have a really hard time getting back in; letting Paul go here makes it pretty likely that Paul will win the round. So Ultra leaves a tiny hole in between the crouching jab and the standing short xx ex green hand. This allows Paul to get out of blockstun enough to start his pre-jump frames, but it doesn’t allow him enough time to actually get off the ground before getting hit with the standing short. Ultra tags Paul with standing short xx ex green hand before Paul can actually leave the ground for the win. This is fairly risky, but I like it, because the alternative is pretty much letting Paul escape and kill Ultra before Ultra can get back in.
2:34: Ouch, this could be big. Paul has zoned Ultra out really well up until this point, but Ultra finally got in, and when he did, he did… not much. He needed this ex green hand combo. Instead of dealing more damage and being able to pressure Paul with some very damaging options, Ultra lets Paul’s health off the hook and goes back to having to try to get in.
2:49: Look at where Ultra was trying to stand the last little while: max green hand range. A bit earlier, at 2:38, Ultra was standing at about the same spot inputting down-toward, down-toward, down-toward, just waiting for Paul to throw something laggy like a tiger shot, standing roundhouse, tiger knee, or jump that Ultra could react to by pressing 2p for ex green hand; Paul does low tiger shot here, but Ultra messes his ex hand up and just gets hit by the shot. It didn’t work out, but that’s still a great location for Zangief to stand. Here at 2:49, it works out. Ultra punishes Paul just before Paul lands, getting some good damage and a free mixup after that.
2:51: Paul tries uppercut again, but again Zangief’s fierce splash beats uppercut at that location. What happens right after that is extremely important: Ultra does kick lariat. He knows Paul desperately wants to escape, but he doesn’t have enough meter for safe option uppercut xx fadc, and if Paul tries uppercut and Ultra blocks it, Ultra’s gets a free ultra for the win. Instead, Paul tries to jump away, but the kick lariat beats that jump’s startup. Because it’s kick lariat, Ultra has enough time to cross Paul up again.
2:59: Ultra has learned over the course of the match that Paul doesn’t like sitting still on his wakeup, he likes his dragon punches a lot, whether that’s because Paul isn’t yet sure that his uppercuts lose to the splash or expects Ultra to go for empty jump into ultra like he did in round 1 isn’t clear. Zangief’s fierce splash done right at the top of Sagat’s head as Sagat is waking up beats regular tiger uppercuts and whiffs through ex uppercuts, both of which situations are great for Zangief. Paul keeps trying uppercut, and that costs him the match.
This is probably Zangief’s hardest matchup. Sagat has a bunch of great tools to keep him out, and it’s very rare that Gief can get in on Sagat without taking significant damage in the process. Ultra messed up a couple big chances in this match, including one to win the 1st round, but he played reasonably well overall. He made Paul feel like he had to keep walking backwards to get away from Ultra’s pressure, which eventually resulted in Paul getting cornered. This was exactly what Ultra wanted, since once Paul got to the corner, Ultra could worry less about tiger shots and antiairs and how to get to the location he wanted and start concentrating on actually being at that location and taking advantage of the times he got there.