The Importance of Strategy in MMA

Last week, MSN Sports named Chatri Sityodtong, Founder of Evolve MMA, one of the best coaches in the world alongside legendary coaches such as Sir Alex Ferguson from Manchester United, Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid, Rick Carlisle from Dallas Mavericks, Greg Jackson from Jackson’s MMA, and a few others. The list included only 9 people and 2 were from the MMA world:  Greg Jackson and Chatri Sityodtong. (For the complete list, please click here.) The recognition of two MMA coaches on a list normally reserved for football and basketball coaches marks a big shift in popularity for the sport of mixed martial arts.

Given the importance of strategy in sports, it is no surprise that legendary coaches such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho are highly sought after by athletes, teams, media, and sponsors.

In the sport of mixed martial arts where so many styles and disciplines are at play, strategy is critical to success. A great game plan can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Just like a football team will alter its approach according to the opposition, a fighter needs to have a specific game plan for every individual opponent. Mixed martial artists use a vast array of tools and techniques from every martial art around the world. There are specialists, generalists, and everything in between. There are striker, grapplers, and everything in between. It is critical to know how to neutralize an opponent's strengths while capitalizing on your own strengths. Equally important, it is essential to know how to exploit weaknesses in an opponent. As a result, a great coach will review extensive footage on opponents in order to develop the correct strategy and game plan for a particular opponent. The game plan will shape what techniques are emphasized during the 8 week training camp prior to a fight. A great coach will also be able to alter the game plan and strategy as the fight unfolds.

The significance of strategy does not just apply to MMA, but to any combat situation. In an altercation on the street, a smart strategy can help you to avoid fighting altogether with the result that you walk away completely unscathed.

In boxing, fighters like Arturo Gatti and Marco Antonio Barrera are legendary because they were regularly involved in grueling wars. While putting on a show for the fans is important, these sort of fights really take a tremendous toll on the boxers and often cut their careers short. However, a boxer like Floyd Mayweather will have much more longevity because he is too smart to get sucked into high octane exchanges. In professional fighting, a good strategy can help prevent a fighter from getting badly hurt.

For amateur and hobby martial artist, strategy is also important for training and sparring. It is good to get in the habit of analyzing an opponent, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and recognizing any traits or habits they have which you could potentially exploit. For example, some people will habitually try to escape from a triangle attempt in a manner which leaves them exposed to an armbar while others may repeatedly drop their hands to defend body shots in a fashion which leaves their head unprotected in a striking exchange. It is important to learn to recognize these windows of opportunity when they arise. It is also essential to know what an opponent favors, whether it is a style, a position, a submission, or a strike.

Learning martial arts is a very physical process, but an incisive and analytical brain can be the most dangerous weapon a martial artist can possess. For any high level professional athlete, a great coach can hold the keys to the riddle of a tough opponent and can help to maximize the odds of success. Whether you train martial arts for fun or you fight for living, strategy is one of the key foundations to winning.

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, and No Gi Grappling, Evolve MMA is the top martial arts training organization in Asia. It ranks among the best martial arts academies in the world.