Thursday, April 9, 2009

Screw MMA. Just Wrestle

If you were trying to get in to MMA and eventually wanted to fight in the UFC where would you begin?  Would you take boxing classes at your local gym?  Maybe try and find a dojo and study Judo or Karate?  Or would you try and learn the art and science of jujitsu?  Well if you were smart you wouldn't do any of these things.  You would sign up for wrestling classes.

Over the past few years a large influx of wrestlers have entered the UFC with little or no Mixed Martial Arts background.  Brock Lesnar for example had 1 professional fight before he fought Frank Mir in the UFC and now he is the World Heavyweight Champion.  How did he accomplish this?  Well first he smashed in Heith Herring's face with his those lunchboxes he passes off for hands and then he knocked out Randy Couture.  He accomplished both these feats with no style and no legitimate background in any of the martial arts disciplines that other fighters employ.  He was successful simply because he is a very large man and because he can wrestle.

Look at the current champions and top tier fighters in the UFC and other organizations and you will see that wrestling is by far the most common form of discipline.  Brock Lesnar is the Heavyweight Champion and was a collegiate wrestler for 4 years at the University of Minnesota. Georges St. Pierre has won his last few fights through the utilization of his new found wrestling skills and Light Heavyweight chmpaion Rashad Evans also has an extensive background in wrestling.

The list goes on and on and contains current and past champions and top tier names like: Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Johnny Hendricks, Dan Henderson, Mark Coleman, Tito Ortiz, Sean Sherk, Urijah Faber, and Dan Severn.  One need not look further than the two winners of this past season of the Ultimate Fighter reality series to see the dominance of wrestling.  Both the two winners, Ryan Bader and Efrain Escudero, had a backgrounds in wrestling.

The reason wrestling is so successful is because if a fighter is a great wrestler then they can dictate where the fight will take place.  If they do not enjoy striking they can simply take their opponent down and inflict damage while on the ground.  Wrestling also is beneficial in that it wears the opponent out quickly.  If Brock Lesnar is laying on you for 10 minutes I don't care who you are you are going to get very tried very quickly.

Being a solid wrestler for some fighters is a crutch as they rely simply on take downs and slams to out point their opponent and earn a victory.  Too many times I have watched fights in the UFC where a fighter will take down his opponent and then do nothing but hammer first for 5 minutes.  All this does is tire out your opponent while inflicting minimal damage.  It is boring to watch but in the end it earns a win which when it comes to fighting that is really all that matters.

While some fighters like GSP and Rashad Evans have other facets to their game fighters like Lesnar and Bader rely solely on their wrestling to win fights.  Yes Lesnar defeated Couture with strikes but it's not as if he was standing there boxing with the man.  He used his common sense and minuscule training to learn how to correctly throw a punch and applied it to his fight in the octagon.

This is not to say that wrestling has taken over the UFC however as there are still countless fighters who practice the other disciplines of martial arts and are successful.  Lyoto Machida uses karate and he is a perfect 14-0 in his MMA career.  Anderson Silva considered to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world is a well rounded fighter who relies on his striking and Thai clinch to be successful in the octagon.  Finally there is jujitsu which is utilized by fighters such as BJ Penn and Demian Maia very effectively.

The sport is known as MMA and in the end if you are not a well rounded fighter you will be exposed and you will lose.  No one can make it to the top and stay there being a one dimensional fighter.  Fighters must constantly evolve and learn in order to get better and to continue to win. If a fighter chooses to rely solely on their wrestling it may get them to the mountain but it will never get them to the top.

The trend of wrestlers entering the UFC is likely to continue due to the fact wrestlers win fights and in the end you cannot ignore a fighter that can win.  My hope is that these fighters who are purely wrestlers will learn from fighters like Rashad and GSP and evolve and become well rounded.  This makes fights entertaining as it is makes it an actual fight rather than one man laying on another for 15 minutes.  No homo.

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