Making the Ultimate Fighter

February 11, 2024
2 weeks

Mixed martial arts was originally viewed as a fight between Bruce Lee and Mike Tyson in many circles. The goal was to try and settle which kind of fighting style was the best. During the early days of mixed martial arts, especially in the UFC, there were a lot of guys who excelled at one particular skill. While they were likely among the best in the world at doing that, there was no Plan B.

It could have been a difficult night at the office if their opponent knew how to counter their top skill. But as MMA has grown from a curiosity into a legitimate, regulated sport, the people who fight in the sport also have to change. Anyone who wants to be a UFC champion now has to be skilled in several different types of combat.

Many fighters will strive to be perfect by training in various sports. MMA fighters also will participate in grappling and wrestling tournaments. Depending on what promotion they fight for, others will also moonlight in boxing or bare-knuckle-style fights to make more money.

Here’s a look at what would be part of the makeup of a perfect fighter in MMA.

One of World’s Oldest Skills

Wrestling is a sport that has long been one of the most prestigious combat sports. Many of the men who have climbed to the top levels of MMA have done so with a wrestling background. Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones. What makes wrestling a good skill to have is the amount of things you can build from the wrestling base.

The most obvious skill that comes from freestyle wrestling is the ability to take down your opponent and hold them on that mat. From the top position, wrestlers can incorporate a number of techniques to stop and control a fight. Wrestlers can focus on controlling the wrist and unleashing ground and pound.

The threat of takedowns can allow wrestlers to set up feints while striking. Wrestling can also serve as something to prevent trouble. If a wrestler gets stung, they are able to shoot for a takedown and try to create a window for recovery. While wrestlers who are new to the sport can be vulnerable to being caught in submissions, they can create scrambles to get out of trouble as well.

Anyone looking at MMA news sites will see that the sport has been littered with successful wrestlers. While the scoring system has changed to prevent people from winning just by scoring takedowns, knowing how to get someone down to the mat will always be a valuable skill.

Jabs Open the Door

Boxing isn’t all just power punches. Part of the reason boxing developed a nickname as the “sweet science” was because of the strategy involved. You need someone who can throw an effective jab to have a perfect fighter in MMA.

What makes jabs important is how it can change the tempo of a fight. Former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland essentially jabbed his way to a championship. He used the jab and forward pressure to drag opponents into fights they didn’t want to be in.

What makes the jab especially effective is how you can build other punches off of it. After landing a few jabs early in the fight, top-level strikers can set up long combinations. 

Jiu-Jitsu Can Help Set Up Excitement

Royce Gracie authored the popularity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in MMA. The discipline is so exciting because it can make fighters dangerous while lying on their backs. Typically, wrestlers don’t like to be on their backs because, in wrestling, that would result in losing via pinfall.

But BJJ practitioners feel more comfortable there. There are several submissions that can be set up from their backs. Also, being comfortable working from a full-guard position is something that all MMA fighters need to be accustomed to. Many fights end up with one wrestler in the top position. 

Knowing how to sweep from the bottom position to return to your feet or to try to lock up submissions will keep any opponent guessing. BJJ fighters can also utilize different positions to stay safe from a barrage from opponents. Many MMA fighters commonly work from half-guard as well.

Being Persistent Can Help

Leg kicks aren’t sexy. In some circles, the maneuver is considered a particularly non-tough way of fighting. When two fighters compete, there isn’t an expectation of firing a bunch of kicks at people’s legs. But there is no denying that any fighter who wants to have a closer-to-perfect skill set will need to be able to land leg kicks.

Leg kicks are effective because of their cumulative effect. Kicking the same spot over and over again quickly causes damage. Repeated low kicks will limit an opponent’s mobility and make it difficult for the opponent to move. Mixing leg kicks will make it difficult for anyone to control the striking.

MMA breaking news shows that leg kicks may be the type of strike that has changed the sport the most over the past ten years or so.

Be Smart, Don’t Panic

Developing a high fighter IQ is also important for any fighter. Knowing how to react in different situations is something that comes from experience. With how many different types of fighting disciplines you can take on in the octagon, it will be hard to know how to react in every situation, according to MMAfighting latest news.

Fighters who have a fighting IQ will know how to approach their opponents. If someone they are fighting has a particular strength, they will try to adjust their movements to circle away from their power hand or to avoid being taken down to a mat.

Anyone who possesses a high fight IQ will also know how to manage their cardio and prevent themselves from being dragged into fights that aren’t their style.

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By Dean McHugh.