Mixed martial arts is supposed to be just that, the blending of various martial arts into one “complete” martial artist. Today’s MMA athlete may employ a number of fighting styles from boxing to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to Capoeira into their skill set. However, what happens when one style has been given the negative connotation of “lay and pray?” Recently, discussions about how some fighters are using wrestling to control their opponents instead of finish them has caused a controversy within the MMA world. How will the sport handle this revolution or are we going to see a drastic change to how the sport is contested.
Highly trained wrestlers come into MMA with the ability to control where the fight takes place.
The ability to take an opponent from his feet to his back or less desirable position is an important skill to acquire. Wrestlers that have been a part of the sport since high school understand the weight cutting process and have been shaving weight to lower divisions for years. These are just a few of the attributes that help wrestlers make a transition from their sport into mixed martial arts.
If you look at the highest tier of MMA fighters you will find a laundry list of athletes that have made wrestling a part of their pedigree. From former national champions such as Brock Lesnar and Ben Askern; to former Olympic competitors such as Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier. With so many wrestlers making the move to MMA after their college careers, other fighters will have to change their game to counter act the relentless takedowns of these athletes.
An article in the November issue of Fight! Magazine offers some advice to fighters who are hoping to deter the steam that wrestling has gained in MMA. First, fighters should avoid standing flat footed. Continuous motion will help to keep yourself out of bad positions in which a wrestler can take you down. Second, learning how to work in the clinch is a key step in avoiding takedowns. Effectively striking and tying your opponent up can slow down his attacks. The third idea was for those who practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to become more aggressive off their back. Wrestlers have begun to take down BJJ practitioners and use positioning to stifle their attack. However, constant movement and attacking with submissions can open up the opportunity to submit your opponent or escape to better positioning.
I believe that the real issue with mixed martial arts is how the fights are judged instead of the strategies that fighters employ. “Lay and Pray” should not be as rewarded as a fighter who is aggressive from their back and finds ways to get back to their feet to continue the action. Wrestling isn’t negatively affecting MMA but rather forcing the next stage of the sports evolution.
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