Today, mixed martial arts or MMA is one of the most popular fighting sports and while it hasn’t overshadowed boxing just yet, it has every chance to do so in the future. No wonder – it has quite a few show elements surrounding the fight itself, making it flashy enough for the masses, and it has all the skill and technique involved to never come off as “fixed” like pro wrestling, making it not only a great form of entertainment but one of the best fighting sports for betting.
Speaking of skill, there are many fans who, seeing how popular MMA (especially UFC) is today, consider training in mixed martial arts. Below, we have the three basic elements without which an MMA fighter stands no-chance in the ring or cage, no matter what shape it may have.
Every single fight begins with the two opponents standing face to face in the combat arena, with much of the fight initially involving punching and kicking. Fighting styles that involve the use of hands and feet at a distance are vital – after all, you have to get past a flurry of punches and kicks before you can grab your opponent, subdue them, and bring them to the ground.
Many successful MMA fighters have a background in striking martial arts. Conor McGregor is a boxer (even if his only professional boxing match was the one he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr), UFC Featherweight champion Max Holloway routinely uses Muay Thai techniques during his fights, and Stephen Thompson was a full-contact kickboxer and karate practitioner before transitioning to MMA.
Statistics show that the majority of MMA fights end in KO or TKO – but a major percentage of them is still decided by how efficiently a fighter brings the fight down to ground level, immobilizing their opponents until they submit. And to do so, they need to be proficient in the techniques used in various forms of wrestling, or Judo. In short, sports that involve grabbing the opponent and bringing them to the ground.
Former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey has her background to thank for at least part of her success – she won a bronze medal in Judo at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Bellator’s Fedor Emelianenko is also a specialist in Judo and Sambo (the Russian offshoot of the Japanese martial art).
Finally, the martial art which pretty much every MMA fighter should train in is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, considered the perfect choice for controlling the opponents on the ground and forcing them into submission. The UFC has deep ties to BJJ – Rorion Gracie, co-creator of the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament, is himself a BJJ Grand Master and the eldest son of Hélio Gracie, who – together with his brother Carlos – co-founded BJJ itself.
Many successful MMA fighters are also proficient in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Conor McGregor has a brown belt in it, Max Holloway has a purple belt, the current and two-time undisputed UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has a blue belt, and UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili has a purple belt in the sport. While the number of submission victories has decreased significantly since the early days of MMA, the importance controlling your opponent on the ground has not.