Category Archives: MMA

The Top Wrestling Styles of MMA Fighters

According to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles there are four types of wrestling internationally, all of which have influenced the sport of mixed martial arts. In addition, there are two lesser known styles of grappling that have found their way into MMA that must be mentioned.

To learn more about these styles of wrestling, read on.

The four varieties of grappling recognized by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles are:

Greco-Roman Wrestling

One of the three styles of amateur wrestling that is still utilized in the Olympic Games. Greco-Roman wrestling is derived from the Ancient Greeks and was practiced by Roman soldiers during ancient times. This style of wrestling sets itself apart from others in that attacks below the waist are forbidden.

Therefore, high throws are witnessed regularly in Greco-Roman competitions.

Two of the most famous MMA practitioners with a Greco-Roman background are UFC Hall of Famers, Randy Couture and Dan Severn.

Further, though he never entered into MMA competition, Russia’s Alexander Karelin should be mentioned simply because he’s the best Greco-Roman heavyweight practitioner in the history of the sport (a three time gold medalist).

Judo

Founded by Dr. Jigoro Kano of Japan in 1882. This sport, one which is in part derived and meshed with Japanese Jujutsu, emphasizes free sparring where half the time is spent on the feet practicing throws, called tachi-wasa, while the other half is spent on the ground ( ne-wasa ). Submissions, of course, are used on the ground. Though leglocks, wrist locks, and spinal locks are banned from competition, they are still sometimes taught in practice.

Early on, the Japanese wanted to keep the secrets of their martial arts from the western world ( particularly their jujutsu or jiu-jitsu ). Due to this, the form of Judo the Japanese divulged to the western world, at least initially, was devoid of many of the submissions that jujutsu or jiu-jitsu taught.

Even so, the secrets could not be contained forever. Mitsuyo Maeda brought the pure forms of Judo/ Jujutsu to the western world, via Brazil. In fact, Maeda taught Carlos Gracie initially, which eventually led to the development of Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Judo is still an Olympic sport today. Some popular MMA practitioners influenced by a Judo background are gold medalist, Hidehiko Yoshida, and the UFC’s, Karo Parisyan ( a four time international Judo champion ).

Freestyle Wrestling

Unlike Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling allows attacks to the entire body of the opponent. Takedowns and putting an opponent on their back are ways to score points. In addition, pinning an opponent wins a match.

Freestyle wrestling teaches single leg and double leg takedowns, both of which are highly ingrained in the sport of mixed martial arts.

Freestyle wrestlers have been extremely successful in MMA. Former UFC Champions, Tito Ortiz, Kevin Randleman, and Mark Coleman all have a freestyle background.

Russian Sambo

Sambo originated from the early work of several people including Vasili Oshchepkov, Victor Spiridonov, Anatoly Karlampiev, and I.V. Vasiliev. In short, it evolved as a result of early Russia’s yearning to produce an elite fighting system for military and police personnel.

In trying to do this, the aforementioned pioneers brought together several forms of fighting with influences ranging from the Japanese arts ( Judo and Karate ) to Greco-Roman wrestling. In addition, they drew from the fighting styles of the Tatars, Vikings, Mongols, and native Russians.

Today Sambo is broken into three versions: Self- Defense Sambo ( for use in the street), Combat Sambo ( for the military but now often used in MMA ), and Sport Sambo ( for competitions ).

Sambo is known for it’s outstanding takedowns ( much like Judo ), as well as its leglocks ( they allow leglocks in Sambo competitions unlike the other wrestling styles recognized by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles ).

Practitioners with a background in Sambo ( often termed Sombo by the western world ) have been highly successful in MMA. Fighters such as PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, Fedor Emelianenko, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Andrei Arlovski, and former Ultimate Fighting Champion, Oleg Taktarov, were born from the art.

The following two styles of wrestling are not recognized by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles. However, their influence on MMA has been paramount.

Catch Wrestling

Appears to have developed as a result of European styles ( catch-as-can, collar-and-elbow ) blending with jiu-jitsu. Catch wrestling is most widely known as the kind of grappling seen at carnivals across the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

In short, catch wrestling is all about submissions ( often termed ‘hooks’ ) in the sport. Therefore, some of the most popular early catch wrestlers – Frank Gotch, Great Gama, and Ad Santel – were called ‘hookers’.

In fact, Ad Santel was involved in one of the first mixed martial arts style events when he took on Tokugoro Ito, the World Judo Champion, back in 1914. Santel defeated Ito in that first encounter and had further success in such matches later on.

MMA fighters with catch wrestling backgrounds include Kazushi Sakuraba ( The Gracie Killer ) and former UFC Champions, Josh Barnett and Frank Shamrock.

Shoot Wrestling

Shoot wrestling was influenced by a host of martial arts including catch wrestling, freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, Pehlwani, Karate, and Muay Thai. However, it was clearly most influenced by catch wrestling through former American and Japanese wrestling great, Karl Gotch (real name Karl Istaz).

Gotch learned catch wrestling in the famous Snake Pit gym under Billy Riley. He competed and learned all over the world, but once he got to Japan, he achieved stardom. In fact, he taught catch wrestling to several famous Japanese fighters including Antonio Inoki (the man who fought Muhammad Ali in what many consider a staged match), Tatsumi Fujinami, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Satoru Sayama, Masami Soranaka, and Akira Maeda. All of these students already had a basis in martial arts before learning catch wrestling, which in essence meshed with what Gotch taught them to evolve into something else.

Shoot wrestling.

Later, Inoki went on to pioneer New Japan Pro Wrestling, an organization that promoted these “strong style,” wrestling techniques. Eventually, however, shoot wrestling found its way into Japan’s Universal Wrestling Federation (1984). After the Universal Wrestling Federation broke up, shoot wrestling broke into several disciplines as outline below.

Pancrase – Formed by two of Yoshiaki Fujiwara’s students: Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki. Fujiwara had a background in Judo and Muay Thai before learning from Gotch, and these influences can be seen in the organization. Ken Shamrock, “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” fought many times in Pancrase.

Shootfighting – Bart Vale (another student of Fujiwara) formed this organization.

Shooto – Sayama’s style of shoot wrestling includes Muay Thai style kicks.

RINGS – Akira Maeda’s style of shoot wrestling. It focuses on submissions.

Shoot Boxing – Formed by a kickboxer, it emphasizes stand up fighting, including standing submissions as influenced by catch wrestling.

the Best Supplements for MMA

It’s been said that Kevin Randleman submitted a urine sample that wasn’t his to drug testers, and that Pawel Nastula and Vitor Belfort both failed their respective drug tests.

In this case, that means that Nastula and Belfort were both found to have taken steroids.

Sure, it’s possible that it was done by accident ( as Belfort has been quoted as saying ). Regardless, it doesn’t matter. If you’re found with the stuff in your system, then you broke the rules.

So in a day and age where MMA fighters are constantly trying to improve performance with the use of natural products, what kinds of supplements are they taking? Far too many to count in one article, for sure.

For three of them, though, keep reading.

AST Multi Pro 32X

From early on, we’re all taught the importance of multi-vitamins. After all, the great thing about vitamins is that they give you what most or all of what your body needs without eating the contents of the entire refrigerator.

So if you’re a mixed martial artist with all the advanced things out there to take, wouldn’t it seem ridiculous not to take a multi-vitamin?

Probably; which is why many fighters take multi-vitamins.

There are tons of choices out there, but one that continually gets some buzz is the AST Multi Pro 32X. For true athletes, a high performance kind of vitamin is often needed, one that is taken more than once a day and supplies the necessary nutrients to get through advanced workouts.

That’s what AST Multi Pro 32X is all about.

It’s a high potency vitamin available in tablet form ( making it more absorbable than a capsule ). Further, it’s loaded with anti-oxidants.

In short, it’s a good vitamin to take for extreme athletes.

Brain Quicken

Ever hear of Brain Quicken? If not, you’re not alone. In fact, Black Belt Magazine has called this product, “the newest training secret of kickboxing and no holds barred fighting champions.”

So why would an athlete want to take something that has to do with the brain?

Simply because the brain and body go hand in hand; they are aligned, and that means improved brain performance equals improved athleticism. The makers of Brain Quicken claim that taking the product will improve reaction time, endurance, and muscular contraction. Further, it is also supposed to improve short-term memory.

In other words, it’s not just for athletes.

This product is marketed as a neural accelerator. At the Brain Quicken website, they indicate that it is, “the only laboratory-tested cognitive performance product to be tested, validated, and used by top students at every Ivy League institution in the world.”

Not sure what that exactly means.

At that same website they claim that Brain Quicken “is the product of six years of research and testing,” and that it is, “considered by pharmacology and physiology PhD’s to be the strongest and most rapid-acting cognitive performance aid available without prescription.”

To top it off, it is said to work fast. Within 30 minutes, even. Beyond that, BrainQuicken reports that no one who has taken the product has received a single performance enhancing testing infraction as all of the ingredients are safe ( they are listed as such by the Generally Recognized as Safe list the U.S. Government puts out ), and legal.

Sounds darned good, doesn’t it?

Of course, anytime you’re in the market for a product like this, particularly a newer one, it’s still buyer beware. Interestingly, though, the most notable thing about BrainQuicken seems to be the athletes who are quoted as endorsing it at the BrainQuicken website. Take a look ( for full quotes, visit the website ).

“BrainQuicken helps me keep my mind where it needs to be so I can make the most of every workout.” – UFC Lightweight Champion, Sean Sherk.

“This stuff really works. Most products are pure placebo, but BrainQuicken is in a class by itself. I’ve never felt anything like it.” – UFC fighter and jiu-jitsu guru, Dean “the Boogeyman” Lister

Beyond the aforementioned, Elvis Sinosic and Scot Mendelson ( the record holder in the bench press ) also have endorsed the product at the website.

For this reason, Brain Quicken might be something to consider if you’re an extreme athlete in the market for such a supplement. If it works for these guys, it just could work for you.

Xyience NOX CG3

Mixed martial arts fighters have to be in the best of condition. Anyone who has ever been involved in submission grappling or kickboxing knows just how difficult it is to keep one’s pace in either of these sports through one round, let alone several. But when you add both striking and grappling into the mix, only a great training regimen and the right supplements can help you survive.

During hard workouts or actual fights the body begins to breakdown. In order to avoid this, the body tends to need a little something extra.

Hence, where Xyience comes in.

Xyience actually makes a host of products. Whereas it’s likely that you haven’t heard of BrainQuicken, you’d need to be dead or living in a cave not to have heard of Xyience. Fighters like Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Rich “Ace” Franklin have done commercials for the product, and virtually everywhere you look in the UFC, even on The Ultimate Fighter reality television show, the stuff is being endorsed.

In short, it’s the most popular brand of mixed martial arts fighting supplements out there, hands down.

Xyience Nox CG3 is made up of creatines, glutamines, and nitric oxide boosters. In short, it has everything you need in it. In addition, people are also saying that the new blue raspberry flavor tastes great.

It’s hard to argue with the UFC when it comes to a product. After all, they are one of the two most influential MMA organizations on the planet ( even if it is getting annoying seeing Xyience ad after ad everywhere you turn ).

So these are three of the more popular natural performance enhancing supplements being used in MMA. Remember to never take anything ( including the supplements listed in this article ) without consulting a doctor first.

Top 20 Submission Moves In MMA

Along with this, the sport of mixed martial arts has come a long way since Royce Gracie first started causing everyone under the sun to tap; back then, hardly anyone knew what the heck was going on. Nowadays, hardcore MMA fans crave submissions nearly as much as knockouts.

Even so, many newer fans really don’t understand how the submissions they see on television work. Therefore, for a rudimentary explanation of twenty submissions you could see on any given day in MMA, read on.

Chokes

Anaconda Choke (from the gator roll position) – This is a submission that has been gaining in popularity. It tends to begin with a sprawl.

The sprawling person then catches their opponent in a headlock. Next, they dip their other arm below the neck and behind their opponent’s arm, eventually locking it up with their other arm (the old “fung gu” sign). Then the performer dips their right shoulder and rolls both combatants over.

In the end, the performer turns toward his opponent and squeezes the back of their head into his or her own body.

The Anaconda choke isn’t used very often in MMA. To see it in action, check out Nogueira’s victory over Hirotaka Yokoi (on 4/25/04).

Arm Triangle Choke (from the side, often termed a side choke) – From the side of an opponent, the performer uses his or her forearm along with their opponent’s own outstretched arm/ shoulder to cut off the air/ blood to an opponent. The performer actually squeezes a forearm into their opponent’s neck to accomplish this.

Guillotine Choke (front) – A favorite for jiu-jitsu fighters taking on wrestlers with limited MMA experience as the guillotine choke punishes those who might try a takedown with their head down.

In short, a guillotine choke often happens after a sprawl that ends with an opponent’s head in the performer’s armpit. The performer then reaches around the opponent’s chin without going around their arm and grasps the hand of the first arm with the second. From there they lift up, cutting off their opponent’s air.

This move can be applied from a standing position (see Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic versus Kevin Randleman II). However, oftentimes performers choose to fall back into their guard for leverage. It is a popular MMA move.

Neck Crank – This submission can be applied when a person is in a dominant position (mount or side mount). It involves pulling or twisting the head farther than it should go with two arms. Not really a choke, but better suited here than anywhere else.

North-South Choke – The performer must be on top in the north- south position to apply this hold. From there the performer cuts off the flow of blood to the neck with his or her bicep. This hasn’t been extremely effective in mixed martial arts, primarily because few mixed martial artists end up in the north – south position and it’s a slow working submission.

Thus it gives fighters too much time to get out.

Rear Naked Choke – The performer must have access to their opponent’s back to pull this off. From there they curl one arm around the their neck, bicep against one side of the neck, forearm against the other. Then the performer tugs it close and place the hand of the choking arm on the bicep of their other arm as that arm comes up behind the opponent’s head and touches their hair. Last, the applier tucks their head, expands their chest, and squeezes.

Oftentimes MMA fighters use their legs as ‘hooks’ for leverage. To see a great example of this popular MMA move, check out Matt Hughes versus Frank Trigg I.

Triangle Choke – This move was made famous by Royce Gracie in an early MMA bout against Dan Severn. While in the guard, the performer traps an arm and extends their opposite side leg across their opponent’s neck so that it lands on the other side of the combatant’s body. Then their other leg crosses over that leg to tighten the hold.

In effect, this choke traps an opponent’s neck in a triangle utilizing the perfomer’s leg and their opponent’s own arm.

Arm Locks

Americana – A lateral keylock (see keylock below).

Arm Bar (from guard) – Perhaps the most utilized of all mixed martial arts submission holds. The performer traps an arm with one hand and uses their other hand to hold that opponent close (oftentimes by grabbing the shoulder or neck). Next they open their guard, pivot or crunch in the direction opposite of the arm they’ve isolated, and climb the leg opposite the trapped arm up their opponent’s back. At the same time, they make a small loop around their opponent’s neck with their other leg. With both hands on the isolated arm, the performer lifts their hips and pulls the caught arm in while pressing out with their legs.

To see an example of this, one need only look to Fedor Emelianenko’s recent victory over Mark Coleman in PRIDE’s first American contest.

Armbar (from the mount) – The performer isolates an arm with their own opposite side arm. As they do this, they may choose to put pressure on their opponent’s neck with their free arm. Then the performer grabs the isolated arm with both hands, comes up to a squat, and pivots around clockwise (if isolating their opponent’s right arm) or counterclockwise (left arm), eventually ending up perpendicular to their opponent.

Finally, the performer’s legs pinch the isolated arm and they fall back into an armbar.

Keylock – Generally, one needs side mount to pull this submission off. Once side mount is achieved, the performer grabs their opponent’s wrist with their near hand and reaches under that arm with their free hand, grabbing their own forearm. The performer then forces the elbow upwards.

Kimura (from the guard) – The performer grips their opponent’s hand, opens their guard, pushes off the hips of their opponent, and sits up. Then with their free hand they reach over and through the arm they’ve isolated to grab their own wrist. Finally, keeping that arm away from their opponent’s body, the performer attempts to touch the back of the trapped hand to their opponent’s head.

Omoplata – From the guard, the performer places one leg under the opponent’s armpit and turns toward that leg, thereby catching their opponent’s arm. By pushing the arm away from the back, terrible pressure is put on the shoulder. Sometimes, depending on the emphasis put on the leg, an elbow can also be harmed.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters love this submission.

Wristlock – A joint lock that affects the wrist. It can be applied in a variety of ways, although it is rarely used in MMA. Still, a wristlock did end a fight for Royce Gracie relatively recently (against Chad Rowan).

Leglocks

Ankle Lock (standard) – Often occurs straight out of an opponent’s guard. Once the guard is broken, the fighter on top secures the foot inside an armpit. Then the performer falls back with the leg held by both arms (and trapped within their own two legs). The lock works by using the forearm opposite the one that caught the leg as a fulcrum for leverage, thereby pushing the toes down and placing pressure on the joint where the foot meets the leg (on top) and the Achilles (the back portion of the ankle).

Flying Scissor Heel Hook – See below for a heel hook. As for the flying part, best way to see that is to check out UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva’s last real loss to Ryo Chonan. It was one of the most impressive submissions ever!

Heel Hook – The performer places both legs around the leg of an opponent while holding the foot attached to that leg in their armpit. Then the applier twists the ankle while holding the heel with the forearm. The twist is what separates it from a standard ankle lock.

Inside Heel Hoo – The performer holds their opponent’s leg in the opposite armpit noted with a standard heel hook. Then they twist the heel laterally.

Knee Bar – Often occurs straight out of an opponent’s guard. Once the guard is broken, the fighter on top steps through the guard (turning his or her back to the opponent), and grabs a leg. Then, using leverage, the performer falls back with the leg in both hands and secures it like an arm bar by pulling the toes in (the performer must also wrap their legs around the isolated leg to add leverage).

Toe Hold (figure four) – Appliers simply use their hands (in figure four fashion) to hyperextend the ankle. This move can only be applied when the opponent’s leg is controlled.

Though this submission hasn’t been terribly effective in mixed martial arts, an example of it can be found in Frank Mir’s submission victory over Tank Abbott.

In sum, always remember that to read about something isn’t to know it. This article only offers a general summary of the aforementioned. The best way to truly understand the various submissions out there is to find a mixed martial arts establishment and practice them yourself!

Learning From UFC Champion, Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture

Standing 6′ 1″, The Natural’s trademark Ground-and-Pound style has earned him the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship as well as its Heavyweight Championship twice over, making Couture the first fighter to hold championship titles in two different UFC weight divisions. He is often considered “the UFC’s most ingenious fighter.”

“Captain America’s” quest for competition and exceptional drive can be traced back to his first days on the wrestling mat when he was just 10 years old, growing up in the state of Washington.

Couture would continue to wrestle throughout high school, earning a state championship in his senior year and falling deeper in love with both the technical and competitive aspects of the sport that would someday carry him to prominence. In 1982, Couture enlisted in the United States Army, where he first became involved with both Greco-Roman wrestling and boxing.

“(There was) more emphasis on Greco when I was in the service,” declares Couture, who served as the 180 lb. wrestler for the Army team. “At that time there’d been only one world champ from United States in Greco and being the person that I was, I set goals to make a mark in that style of the sport since no one had really done it.”

Randy only signed up for boxing to avoid regular physical fitness drills; that’s a good thing, because boxing is a skill this wrestler would need eventually…

After six years in the Army, Couture’s abilities soon landed him a place on the top-notch Oklahoma State University wrestling program. During his tenure as OSU’s 190-pounder, Couture was a three-time All-American and in 1990, a USA Senior Greco-Roman Champion. He was named outstanding wrestler in 1990 and won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba in 1991.

Couture would go on to win two more national Greco-Roman championships in 1993 and 1997 and qualify for the world team numerous times. His only wrestling disappointments? Just failing to make the U.S. Olympic Team in 1996 and 2000.

But Mixed Martial Arts was just around the corner, and perfectly suited to someone of Couture’s aptitude and broad knowledge of various fighting forms.

So what’s his secret? How does he win again and again? What’s his workout regimen? How does a man over 40 remain not only in fine shape, but retain the strength and abilities of men around half his age?

First, it should be remembered that strength is the last thing to fade as a fighter ages. This is why boxers who rely primarily on speed, like Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard, find things so tough as they begin to age, while punchers like George Foreman can sometimes remain serious contenders, if not champions, on into their 40s.

Also, a consistently well-kept body will simply age less quickly than a neglected one. Somewhat like an older car or motorcycle, if it is kept in fine working condition the human body is a mechanism that will run exceptionally well long after others of similar age have begun to fade.

Said Couture a few years ago, “Some of it has to do with the fact that I’ve led a pretty clean life and taken care of my body for the most part and some of that is just good genetics.”

More than anything, Couture utilizes treadmill workouts and treadmill sprints. He sometimes works out at the Washington Institute of Sport Health in Washington State, which has a fine acceleration program. He goes through workouts designed by professional trainers to improve foot speed and strength.

But as Randy has said about his workouts, “I’ve learned over the years that it’s not just about training hard or extra hard, you’ve gotta train smart. So, you know, I train very hard, but [my] time of rest is just as important as the time I spend training and trying to be smarter about it and specific with what I’m trying to accomplish.”

Like all smart fighters, Couture tailors his fight to the opposing fighter. Say he’s fighting a real puncher; Randy would ignore any feelings of flight — when faced with such matches he’s as much as stated that allowing oneself to be completely intimidated by an opponent is one of the surest ways of getting seriously hurt.

Besides, “there are other ways to be aggressive and take the fight to him without getting in there and exchanging blows with a puncher,” Couture said in a 2003 interview.

Randy likes to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses, and keeps the other man on the ground as much as possible; being a wrestler, ground-fighting is Couture’s natural strength. Purposely exploiting the opponent’s weaknesses and forcing the opponent to play to his strength is perhaps the major element of Couture’s amazing success in the fighting arts.

Just as integral to Couture’s success has been his training partners and former wrestling comrades Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland and two-time Olympian Dan Henderson.

“You’re only as good as your workout partners so it’s important to have good guys in there pushing you every day,” says Couture. ‘The Natural’ knows what he’s talking about. Couture, Lindland and Henderson have united to form the Team Quest Martial Arts and Fitness Club located in Gresham, Oregon — one of the MMA gyms consistently creating the Ultimate Fighting Champs of today.

Team Quest’s website (www.tqfc.com) has all the basics you’d wish to know about Couture’s club…but especially interesting to us UFC fans is Randy’s personal training tips, found there on the site free of charge. Perhaps we’ll follow these tips and make it to the octagon after all…

Randy’s Top 10 Training Hints

1. Use a calendar to periodize your training, include your peaking phases for competitions or goal deadlines.

2. “The human body is amazing.” It will adapt to a workload in 8 to 10 weeks. Use that as a guide to adjust training and keep your training moving forward.

3. Keep a training log: include workouts, diet, sleep, and anything else pertinent to your training.

4. Set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Write them down and share them with someone close to you.

5. After a competition (win or lose), or at a goal deadline (accomplished or not) evaluate your program and routine. Keep what works, eliminate what didn’t, and move forward.

6. Establish a warm up “ritual”. Think of your best performance, what did you do to warm up? Repeat that! It’s a living, evolving thing. Make changes accordingly until you can put yourself in the “zone” every time.

7. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Find workout and drilling partners that challenge you or you’ll never improve your game!

8. Proper rest is just as important as time spent training hard. Listen to your body and let it recover.

9. Over-training is more a state of mind rather than [of] body. Altering your routine to keep it fresh helps avoid plateaus and stagnation.

10. Strive to get 1% better each day. It doesn’t sound like much, but adds up in a hurry!

The Top 5 MMA Fights of All Time

First, this is an impossible task. Second, it is only an opinion (and one that changed about twelve times while writing this article).

As with any “Top –” list, there is no way to really narrow it down to a definitive number. There will always be a difference of opinion on any list. UFC’s Top Five All Time Fights is no exception. However, here is a list of the Top Five all Time fights and it may not be your Top Five but I guarantee you some people will have all five of these somewhere on his/her list. Here they are:

5. Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonner. This was the championship bout on a reality TV show where the winner would become part of the Pro MMA ranks. It just so happened that this show produced one whale of a fight, which really boosted the entire sport’s popularity. Griffin won in a unanimous decision and was awarded a six-figure contract to fight in UFC. Many consider this to be not only the most important bout in MMA history but also the greatest.

4. Chuck Lidell vs Wanderlei Silva. In UFC 79 Chuck Lidell and Wanderlai Silva battled to the end with both men giving it all they had. It seemed as if either could land a knockout at any second but the fight went the distance, Lidell won a unanimous decision, giving him two of three in the rivalry between the two. The two had star power. Even if you don’t follow MMA, you’ve heard of these two. Every sport needs a rivalry and in MMA this was one of the best.

3. Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan. Many consider this the “Fight of the Year”for 2006. Another fight that went the distance, the two battled each other for three action packed rounds before Sanchez won a unanimous decision. Parisyan ended this fight bloodied and battered and with fewer teeth than he started with, but he still went all the way, inflicting some damage of his own.

2. Matt Hughes vs, Frank Trigg. You have to love a great come from behind win right? Well this was one of the best. This fight never made it out of the first round but in that round Hughes, the champ, survived a low blow and a no call from the referee and a near defeat to thunder back and get Trigg to finally tap out. Trigg would never win the welterweight championship, this being the closest he would ever get. Hughes did not hang on to it for much longer after the fight, but for this night they were on top of the welterweight world and put on a great show.

1. Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen. Another comeback win in this one, Sonnen was laying a pretty good beating on Silva only to lose it by submission in the fifth round of this epic battle. There will be a rematch of these two later this year so do not miss it. Many consider Silva the greatest fighter ever in MMA. He is the longest title holder in the sports history in terms of time and number of title defenses. He had to go five grueling rounds in this fight however, and many believe he was behind on the judges’ score cards. But he is not pound for pound the world’s greatest fighter for nothing.

I’m sure those of you reading this will ask what about Georges St. Pierre? Rampage Jackson? Leban? etc, etc. And you would not be wrong. That’s what makes these debates fun. There really is no way to determine who the best really is, especially when you are comparing different eras and weight classes. But here are my five. Let the debate begin.

The Kettlebell Solution for MMA Strength And Conditioning

The top MMA athletes are far and away the best-conditioned athletes in the world. Second place is so far behind that it is not even worth mentioning. These men and women work hard and need a great strength and conditioning program to enhance their efforts. While no strength and conditioning program can make up for tireless hours sparring and working hard on the mat, a properly executed program will help hard working MMA athletes increase explosive power, ramp up cardio and muscular endurance, and make the body more durable.

There are many effective training tools to choose from for a killer strength and conditioning training. However, the tool that we are going to focus on in this article is the kettlebell. Before we get into why the kettlebell is a great training tool for MMA athletes and how to use it, lets go over what the hell a kettlebell actually is!

A kettlebell looks like a cannon ball with a suitcase handle and is a relative of the dumbbell. Many of the old-time strongman in the US and overseas used kettlebells as part of their overall regimen for building incredible levels of strength and power. In Russia and more recently in the US, kettlebell training is actually a sport in which athletes focus on three kettlebell exercises: The Jerk, The Clean and Jerk, and The Snatch for time.

These are full body exercises that teach your body how to work as one unit. While novices can get away with muscling the kettlebell for these exercises, kettlebell athletes on the professional level have to be efficient and use as many muscle groups as possible to get the job done. The sport involves doing the designated exercises for ten minutes! If you put the bells down at any point it is over similar. Just lasting ten minutes alone with a light kettlebells takes a great deal of mental toughness and conditioning. Imagine using two 70lb kettlebells for the clean and jerk (an exercise in which you take the bells from the floor to the upper body and then overhead) for ten minutes and you get an idea of the incredible strength and conditioning that these athletes have and how such training will carry over very well to the needs of MMA athletes.

While simply working on the kettlebell competition lifts will go a long way for developing incredible levels of strength and conditioning for MMA athletes, it requires professional instruction and a lot of dedication to get really good at (working up to ten minute sets). While I do think that this is worth your time, in this article we are going

To work on some other kettlebell exercises that have a very direct application to MMA. In addition we are going to go over a sample program on how to put the exercises into play for serious explosive power, strength, and conditioning. Lets get started.

The Exercises

The Double Kettlebell Clean and Push Press

If you ignore the rest of this article and only focus on this exercise you will go a long way to getting a lot out of kettlebell training. This is a full body exercise that teaches your body how to work as one unit. It is not as technical as the clean and jerk and is relatively easy to learn. If you have ever done a military press than you have probably done a push press. 99% of the clips I see for the military press on youtube.com are in fact push presses in which you use the legs to help drive the weight overhead.

The Double Clean and Push Press is a combination of two kettlebell exercises. The Double Clean and the Double Push Press. Lets cover the clean first.

Double Kettlebell Clean

Place two kettlebell between your feet aligned with your toes. Sit back as if you are trying to sit in a chair behind you and grab the kettlebells. Looking at the floor slighting in front, swing the kettlebells between your legs as if you are trying to pass a football behind you. Quickly reverse the direction and drive through with your hips, pop your pelvis up and drive the kettlebells to the rack position (Nope, the rack position is not referring to the ring girl’s chest). The rack position is where the bells are resting against your upper body below chin level.

Performance Tips

· Focus on getting your hands around the kettlebells rather then letting the kettlebells flip over your hands and bang your wrists.

· Breathe into your stomach as you drive the kettlbells to the rack

· Stand up straight at the end of the move. Your legs should be locked out.

· Hold the bells in tight and close to the body at the top.

  • Breathe out as you swing the bells between your legs

Now lets cover the push press portion of the lift

Double Kettlebell Push Press

Clean two kettlebells to your shoulders. Squat down a few inches and reverse the motion rapidly. Use the momentum from the legs to drive the kettlebells overhead. Once the kettlebells are locked out, lower the kettlebells to your shoulders and the back to the starting position. Stay loose upon cleaning the kettlebells and when you squat down a few inches to power up the leg drive.

Performance Tips

· Push the kettlebells off of your upper body.

· Do not squat down too far.

· Breathe in as your lower the weights and breathe out forcefully as you push press the kettlebells overhead.

· Look straight ahead or slightly up when driving the bells off of the rack position.

One-Arm Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is a great exercise for developing explosive hamstrings and when done in high reps incredible cardio and muscular endurance. Best of all it is pretty easy to learn and apply safely. It has many of the benefits of the kettlebell snatch without the technical demands of the snatch. No doubt the snatch is worth your time to learn, but the swing is the best exercise to put into play immediately while you work on snatches for down the road.

Performance

Place one kettlebell between your feet. Push your butt back and bend your knees slightly to get into the starting position. Make sure that your back is flat and look down or at the floor slightly ahead. Swing the kettlebell between your legs forcefully as if you are passing a football to someone behind you. Quickly reverse the direction and drive though with your hips explosively taking the kettlebell straight out. Let the kettlebell swing back between your legs and repeat. Switch arms with each set. Remember that the swing is primarily a hamstring exercise and that is where all of the power is generated from. It is not a front raise so do not use a crush grip on the kettlebell and keep the arm loose.

Double Swing

The Double Swing is one of the most powerful ballistic drills that you can use with kettlebells. There is no way to muscle up two heavy kettlebells. You have to have powerful hamstrings to make double swings happen. On the Double Swing you are going to focus on driving through with the hips as fast and as powerful as possible. Do not worry how high the bells get. In fact, they should not get higher then chest level. Keep the tension and focus on the hamstrings. A large percentage of the lower body explosive power comes from the hamstrings. Keep that in mind when doing Double Swings. If your lower back gets sore then you are not doing the exercise correctly.

Performance Tips

Place two kettlebells between your feet. While you will most likely have to take a wider stance than you would when doing a regular one-arm swing, do not stand too wide. The wider you stand the less hip drive you will have. Only stand as wide as you need to in order to comfortably place two kettlebells between your feet. Push back with your butt and bend your knees to get into the starting position. Make sure that your back is flat and look down or slightly in front. Swing the kettlebells between your legs forcefully. Quickly reverse the direction and drive though with your hips taking the kettlebells forward. Let the kettlebells swing back between your legs and repeat.

Double Kettlebell Squat Shrug

This is a great exercise for developing full body explosive power. You start the power with the lower body and transfer it into the upper body in each repetition. The best part about this exercise is that it is not technically demanding and fairly easy to learn. It does not require the technique of the clean or snatch, yet has many of the benefits. It is also a tremendous trap developer and strengthener.

Performance.

Place a kettlebell on the outside of each foot. Squat down and pick then up as if they are two suitcases. Keep your eyes forward and arch your back in the starting position. Stand up quickly and drive through with the hips and get airborne on each rep. As you get off the floor, push your chest out and pull your shoulders up and try to pinch your shoulder blades together. Let your shoulders go back in the socket as you land back on the ground.

Full Body Attack

This is an incredible exercise that will teach you how to use your body as one unit and build explosive power from the ground up. It is particularly beneficial for combat athletes. Often in a fight you have to get from the floor to your feet explosively against the resistance of an opponent. That is exactly what you are doing with the “Full Body Attack.”

Performance

Place two kettlebells shoulder width apart on the ground. Get into the top position of the pushup with both hands on the kettlebells. Jump forward explosively while holding onto the kettlebells. Now you are in the starting position of the clean. Clean both kettlebells and drive through with the hip flexors rapidly.

Your elbows should be tucked in and in line with your stomach at the top of the movement. Bend you knees slightly, reverse the motion quickly and drive the kettlebells overhead. Now reverse the motion and do another rep. For the purpose of building speed and explosive strength, keep the rep range to no more than three. Focus on moving as quickly and as explosively as possible while maintaining solid form.

Full Body Defense

In addition to learning how to go from the ground to your feet explosively, a combat athlete needs to be able to go from the feet to the ground rapidly as well to avoid takedowns. That is precisely what the “Full Body Defense” will assist you with.

Performance

Start the exercise by cleaning two kettlebells to your shoulders. Push your pelvis up at the top of the clean so that that you can press your elbows against your stomach and keep the kettlebells tucked in. Take the kettlebells to the floor so that you are in the starting position of a double clean.

Now jump back while still holding onto the kettlebells and arch your back. When executed properly, you will look like you are doing a yoga stretch or end position of a Hindu Pushup. Immediately jump back into the clean position, clean the kettlebells, and then proceed with another rep.

Alternating Kettlebell Renegade Row

This is an outstanding drill that I picked up from my friend Coach John Davies, author of “Mastery On The Gridiron.” In addition to being an excellent exercise for your upper back and lats, the Renegade Row is a killer core exercise and a great chest exercise. Yes, even the chest is worked with the Renegade row. How is this possible? The chest is activated tremendously to stabilize the body for rowing with the Renegade Row. Don’t be surprised if you notice that your pecs are sorer than your lats the next day after doing Renegade Rows. Because you are off balance with the Renegade Row, the abdominal muscles are also worked tremendously to maintain balance. There are not too many upper body muscles that the Renegade Row does not work.

Performance

Get into the top position of the pushup holding on to two kettlebells that are less than shoulder width apart. Take a shoulder width stance and push one kettlebell into the floor forcefully while you pull the other kettlebell in the working arm. Hold the kettlebell in the working arm in the top position for a second and then lower the kettlebell under control back to the floor. Switch arms after each repetition.

Performance Tips

· Push the kettlebell of the non-working arm into the floor with as much force as possible.

· Breathe in as you pull one kettlebell and out as you lower the kettlebell.

· Flex your butt and stomach for added stability

· Flex the lat of the working arm before pulling each kettlebell off of the floor.

Take a wider stance to make the exercise easier and a closer stance to make the exercise harder.

The Kettlebell Guard Attack

This is an exercise that suits perfectly the needs of MMA fighters and grapplers. Sports in which you often end up on you’re back called the guard and have to fight off an opponent in the mount position. Learning how to be strong and powerful out of the guard position is a valuable skill. The Guard Attack will help build explosive strength from the guard position. It is also great for building strong and a powerful chest, strong triceps, strong shoulders, and impressive core strength.

Performance

Lie on the floor and position two kettlebells on the floor next to your shoulders. Use two arms to get the bell on the weaker side into place on your chest. While holding on to the bell on your chest, pull the other bell towards your other pec and get it into the starting position on your chest. Lets use the right arm to illustrate the performance of the Guard Attack. Press with your right hand and use your right foot to shift your weight to the left. As you lower the bell, press with the left hand and use your left foot to shift your weight to the right. Use maximum speed when doing this drill. You want to be fast and explosive in the guard position.

Sample Kettlebell Training Program For MMA

Monday And Thursday (Circuit Training for strength endurance)

Double Kettlebell Clean and Push Press 10 reps

Double Kettlebell Squat Shrug 10 reps

Guard Attack 10 reps each side

Alternating Renegade Row 10 reps each side

Full Body Attack or Full Body Defense 10 reps

Double Swing 10 reps

Take 30-second breaks between each exercise and 60-second breaks at the end of each round. Do five rounds per workout I recommend that beginners do five reps per exercise and take one-minute breaks between each exercise and round. Add a rep to each exercise each week until you are up to 10 reps per exercise. Work on getting the breaks down to zero in between each exercise and in between each round. Do this by shaving ten seconds off each break per week until there are no breaks at all. If you get to this point with a relatively heavy set of kettlebells you will be a machine to say the least.

Tuesday and Friday (High Octane Cardio for muscular endurance and cardio)

Ten rounds of

Squat Thrust 30 reps

One-arm Kettlebell Swing 15 reps each side

A round is one set of squat thrusts and one-arm kettlebell swings down back to back. In case you do not know what a squat thrust is it is a bodyweight exercise in which you squat down, get into the top position of a pushup, and then get back to the standing position.

Beginners can take on-minute breaks in between each round. Shave ten seconds off each successive workout until you can do ten rounds with no breaks. Once you are there you will never have to blame lack of cardio for losing a fight.

Wrap-up

There you have it an array of killer kettlebell exercises to get you in shape and a sample program to get into action right away. Depending on what else you have going on with regards to training, life, and individual restoration you will most likely have to modify the program to fit your situation. If four workouts is too much, start with two workouts per week or reduce the rounds and go from there.

Effective Training for BJJ and MMA

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What kind of workout should I be doing for MMA or BJJ?” This same question, of course, could apply to any sport.

Sometimes you’ll see magazine articles by strength coaches outlining workout programs for various sports and martial arts but I have a problem with this cookie-cutter approach: these programs end up being one-size-fits-all…but-me!

Creating workout programs is as much an art as it is science. Before slapping numbers into arbitrary sets and reps on paper you have to know something about the athletes with whom you’re working because, in many cases, the wrong exercise prescription can do more harm than good. Martial arts and grappling are especially strenuous activities and the people who participate in them tend to be extremists already prone to falling into the dreaded overtraining. Participation in these arts provide, for the most part, the specific conditioning needed for same, i.e., if you want to be a good grappler, you’ve got to grapple; if you want to be a good boxer, you’ve got to box, etc. The smart strength coach analyzes his athlete to find the chinks in his armor. For example, if I have a BJJ player demonstrating better-than-average flexibility, with good muscular endurance, but lacking strength, it makes no sense to put him on a yoga-based conditioning program or endurance training. What makes sense is to bring his absolute strength up as high as possible. By the same token, if I have a fighter with great strength but no gas, and worse, tight connective tissue, I’m going to put him on an endurance-building program and work on freeing up his joints and increasing his mobility. This is how it’s done, and following a program from a magazine may not suit your particular set of weaknesses. I want to work to the athlete’s weakness–not his strengths–and no two athletes should have the same exact program (unless they happen to be twins.)

I’m going to give you another example: a program I created for myself. I’ve been in Philly for the past month, training at Maxercise in BJJ and submission wrestling. The workouts have been brutal. Lots of sparring and live drills. In the team practice sessions, there are times when everyone in the room has placed in the top 3 in the world, in their respective categories–we’re talking about some truly elite training. As a 55-year old athlete, training with these kids takes a toll and I must be very careful in the way I add supplementary training. I noticed my shoulders and elbows were bothering me, in fact, both my shoulders were tweaked. I decided to create a program that would be shoulder-strengthening while simultaneously mobilizing, brief in time, without overtaxing my recovery and still allow me to practice the basic kettlebell skills needed for my upcoming seminars. Here’s the prgram I settled on, which met my specific weaknesses:

1) Screw Press aka Bent Press
*this is an old-time lift that really hits the upper torso and works the shoulder at an odd angle you might just find yourself in when training BJJ. It’s the only press I know that thoroughly works and stimulates the lats, which are major shoulder stabilizers.

2) Clubbell 3-Movement Kinetic Chain:
a) shield cast
b) mill
c) 45-degree angle lockout
*this kinetic chain puts your wrist, elbow and shoulder into all the submissions you might find yourself in during a jiu-jitsu match, thus strengthening the tendons and muscles at odd angles and producing freedom of motion, as well as strength.

3) One-Arm Long-Cycle Clean and Press
*this adds a whole-body element of conditioning. It’s shoulder/arm intensive but with repeated, explosive leg drive, thus providing an overall metabolic effect.

None of these exercises are especially strenuous, when compared to double-kettlebell drills, so they don’t interfere with my recovery from the heavy, live-grappling sessions. They specifically mobilize and strengthen my joints where I need it and allow me to recover from a heavy training schedule. In other words, this workout is basically a form of active recovery.

The sister workout is a heavy, low-rep, strength-based workout consisting of two movements:

1) a super-slow reverse Turkish Get-Up
* a standing, one-arm clean and press, then very s-l-o-w-l-y lying down, taking an entire minute to get down on the floor, then getting back up, taking a moment to pause in each position.

Included in this super-slow get-up were a side-plank and, once in the recline, an arm-bar.

One repetition of the entire exercise, using the 24 kg, took 2 minutes.

I super-set this with a set of:

2) Weighted Pull-Ups
* done slowly from a dead hang with a 10-second pause at the top with the throat over the bar.
I alternated these two exercises for three sets of each.

When I finished, I felt refreshed and recharged. My shoulders felt worked from every possible angle and I felt what I can only describe as a healing circulation of blood flow through the joints. I didn’t need any more endurance work (I’d already had it with over an hour of live training, including takedowns and throws) so doing swings, snatches, and so forth would have been redundant. In weeks previous, I’d been doing sprints and stair sprints but the sudden increase in BJJ volume and live matches also made that type of training unneeded.

This is how I also analyze each of my personal training clients. In my next blog, I’ll share how I analyzed my own son, world-class BJJ fighter Zak Maxwell, and the specific program with which he currently trains.

Striking In Mixed Martial Arts

 The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), popularized by the UFC, can be complicated and confusing for new fans. Unlike boxing where there is only one discipline to understand, MMA integrates striking, wrestling, and submissions into one sport.

In previous articles these three components of MMA have been discussed, as well as the various styles of wrestling found within MMA. The different striking backgrounds and skills a fighter may possess, however, have not been discussed.

In regards to MMA, the striking arts can be broken down in three general areas: boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai.

Boxing

An established and lucrative sport of its own, boxing also has a place within the skill set of the MMA fighter.Boxing allows striking only with the knuckles of a closed fist and uses enclosed gloves larger than those in MMA. Boxers can strike to the head or torso, but not below the belt or to the back of the head, back, or kidneys.

Boxing encourages head movement, lightness on the feet, and is highly strategic, hence its nickname, the “sweet science.” Fighters will on occasion “tie up” or clinch, but it is against the rules and will be broken up quickly by the referee. Rounds are three minutes in length with a minute rest between rounds. Unlike MMA, a fighter may be knocked out multiple times in boxing if he recovers before the referee finishes his count.

Kickboxing

Kickboxing had its heyday in the United States in the 1970s, but it also spread throughout the world in its various forms. It laid the foundation for MMA and many fighters still train styles of kickboxing today.

Whereas boxing uses two points of contact (the hands), kickboxing uses four – fighters are allowed to strike with punches and kicks. In America, kickboxing and full-contact karate are very similar, but globally there are many different schools within the art of kickboxing, like Dutch kickboxing, French Savate, or Japanese karate styles. In other parts of the world kickboxing may allow strikes and techniques more akin to Muay Thai and rules and regulations vary greatly.

Muay Thai

The national sport of Thailand and sometimes considered a form of kickboxing in the broader sense of the word, Muay Thai adds even more elements into the striking game. Known as the “Art of Eight Limbs,” Muay Thai allows punching, kicking, elbowing, and kneeing. Unlike boxing and kickboxing, Muay Thai fighters are also allowed to clinch. The clinch is, in fact, a very dangerous place to be with a talented muay Thai fighter as it allows them full use of their elbows and knees.

Rules for Muay Thai vary from country to country and with different organizations. In general the rounds, judging and refereeing are similar to those in boxing and kickboxing. Traditional Muay Thai fighters will also perform the Ram Muay dance before a fight to honor their coaches.

There are so many aspects to MMA, it can be confusing for a newcomer to watch. With a little understanding of the martial arts behind the sport, however, a new fan can start to discern the strategy and truly enjoy watching MMA.

Wrestling In Mixed Martial Arts

 Each of these arts can be broken down further into many sub-categories. For example, there are three primary styles of wrestling: Folkstyle, Freestyle, and Greco-Roman. Each has different rules and scoring and different application in the sport of MMA.
Here in the United States, when most of us hear of wrestling, we think of people we knew in high school or college, or the occasional Olympic athlete. But, what are they really doing and what do you need to look for to increase your understanding when watching MMA?
To help me answer this question I enrolled the help of Darryl Christian, a two-time Greco-Roman Wrestling National Champion who also works with MMA fighters, to walk us through the styles of wrestling.

Folkstyle

Folkstyle exists only in the United States and Canada and is practiced on the collegiate level. Unlike the international styles, Freestyle and Greco-Roman, Folkstyle is not as flashy. “No high amplitude throws exist within this style of wrestling,” said Christian. “Scoring is slow paced and less technical. Sometimes a strong wrestler with strong positions can dominate.” But even college level folkstyle wrestlers bring a special skill set to fighting. It is not just their physical aptitude they have developed, but their mental strength, as well. “A good collegiate background will bring a solid training schedule and mental toughness that has been refined over years of matches and seasons of wrestling,” said Christian.

Freestyle

Unlike Folkstyle, Freestyle wrestling is practiced throughout the world. The two are related, however, and you could look at Freestyle as an evolved version of Folkstyle. “Having a Freestyle background is the same as a collegiate background,” said Christian, “but with the ability to be more technical and refined than a typical collegiate background.” Freestyle has more scoring opportunities than Folkstyle, allowing for an athlete to attack the entire body in a variety of ways. Freestyle does not put as big an emphasis on control as Folkstyle, but instead emphasizes explosiveness and risk. Throws will be more dynamic and of higher amplitude than Folkstyle.

Greco-Roman

Greco-Roman wrestling may be one of the more foreign styles for a viewer in North America to watch, but it also offers the most reward as it incorporates more high amplitude throws than any other style of wrestling. Unlike Folk-

 and Freestyle, you can only attack from the torso up in Greco-Roman wrestling. You cannot use the legs at all to score points, so the emphasis is on upper body engagement. Because of this, a fighter with a Greco-Roman background brings something unique to the game of MMA. “Greco will bring an aspect to MMA that no other background can create,” said Christian. “In Greco, position is everything, unlike the other forms of wrestling. In Freestyle, wrestlers shoot a ways away to take someone down. Closing the gap and controlling underhooks, body locks, and attacking the body is what Greco is about.” In this way Greco has direct application to MMA and having the ability to get in close and do damage through wrestling or striking to an opponent.
In addition, Christian also feels Greco-Roman wrestlers have spent more time developing their hip power and have that as an advantage, as well. “Power is generated through the hips, like an Olympic lift. Greco-Roman wrestlers usually have more power in their punches or ability to generate it, than any other discipline.”
While wrestling is a complicated sport, you don’t have to understand all the rules and nuances to understand the basics of how it works when applied to MMA. Once you, as a new viewer, start discerning the differences between the wrestling styles and knowing which style a certain fighter is practiced in, it will give you more ability to predict action in a fight and to understand the strategy that fighters are employing.

The Arts Behind Mixed Martial Arts

 While some fans could get into an in-depth conversation about the origins of MMA, recalling Bruce Lee and Helio Gracie, the sport has evolved into something unique from its past and different from any other competitive combat sport. When broken down, however, any athlete aspiring to compete in MMA must study a few basic disciplines.

Submissions

The biggest promoter of MMA over the years has been the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) which was originally created by Rorion Gracie. The Gracie family has done much over the years to spread the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Although in pure BJJ competition athletes wear a cotton gi, in MMA it is practiced without the gi. BJJ focuses on technique as opposed to strength and is the art of submissions –mainly chokes, arm locks, and leg locks. The strength of a BJJ player is on the ground as it is a grappling art.

Another branch of grappling is “submission” or “catch” wrestling. Born on the old carnival circuit and practiced by strong men and professional wrestlers, catch wrestling is a very real and dangerous submission art.

Striking

There are a variety of options for a fighter to train in the striking arts. Kickboxing, Karate, Muay Thai, and boxing are the most popular, but there are even a few successful Tae Kwon Do fighters who are well known in the UFC. What is important to know is that a fighter can use their hands, elbows, knees and legs to throw strikes. Because of this, it is more complicated than what most fans are used to witnessing in boxing – and more exciting and unpredictable. Striking is also different in MMA because there is a risk of being taken to the ground by a wrestler, which does not exist in purely striking sports.

Wrestling

Wrestlers bring more to the table than just their physical skill. Typically they have been competing for far longer than other fighters. In the U.S. it is not uncommon for children to begin wrestling as young as the age of 5. Therefore wrestlers often have a competitive mental edge as well as a familiarity with what it takes to prepare for competition.
There are two main styles of wrestling you will see in MMA – Freestyle and Greco-Roman.Freestyle is similar to the collegiate style most people are familiar with, whereas Greco-Roman is a style of wrestling which focuses on the upper body.
Wrestling has two main uses in MMA – controlling the opponent and taking the opponent to the ground. Wrestling is not a submission art, but can put a fighter in position to go after submissions, and wrestling defense is essential for strikers wishing to keep the fight standing. Therefore, wrestling and wrestling defense can be the linchpin for a fighter trying to keep the fight in their domain.
Also, mention should be made of judo, a Japanese art specializing in takedowns. A number of UFC fighters with Judo backgrounds have demonstrated success.
Fighters known for their wrestling: Mat Hughes, Randy Couture, Chael Sonnen
Every competitor possesses different strengths, both physically and strategically, so the emphasis on one discipline versus another may vary from athlete to athlete.All athletes must have a functioning knowledge of all three areas of submissions, striking, and wrestling, however, to succeed even on a defensive level. It is how these attributes match up between fighters and the sheer number of variables in the outcomes of a match-up that makes MMA such an exciting sport to watch.