How to become great at Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Over the last 15 years, the UFC (The Ultimate Fighting Championships or has allowed all martial artists from around the world to test their respective arts by competing in a limited rules competition. The UFC is the world's largest and most prestigious MMA organization. Simply put, they put on the best events with the best martial artists in the world. In these limited rules bouts, it has quickly become apparent which arts are effective in real life situations (and which arts are ineffective). The UFC has become akin to a Darwinian jungle in which only the best arts, techniques, and martial artists survive.

It is about the truth.

Today, it is widely accepted that there are 3 fundamental pillars of Mixed Martial Arts: the striking game, the takedown game, and the ground game. To translate for beginners, this concept basically means that you need to know what to do when you are standing up, when you are taking someone down to the ground, and when you are actually on the ground.

So what actually works in real life?

It has been proven through thousands of matches in the UFC and other venues that the best striking art in the world is Muay Thai. It is the most powerful and efficient striking art. In matches dating back to the 1950s, Muay Thai fighters have routinely wiped out Karatekas, Kung Fu Masters, Tae Kwon Do Champions, and much more. In the history of sanctioned and unsanctioned bouts, Muay Thai has enjoyed a 98% success rate against all other striking arts over the last 60 years. The underlying reason why Muay Thai has been so successful against other striking arts is because of its power, range (kick, punch, knee, elbow), and technical depth. Muay Thai is a very important asset for any Mixed Martial Artist.

Wrestling has proven itself to be the most effective takedown art in real life situations. It is the most widely used art in the UFC when competitors attempt to take another competitor to the ground or when a competitor is defending a takedown. Simply put, wrestling is about balance, leverage, and explosive movement in order to disrupt the balance of your opponent. For a true MMA stylist, wrestling is probably the most important skillset because it allows a competitor to dictate whether the fight stays standing up or whether it goes to the ground. A good wrestler can force a fight to the ground or keep it standing. So if you are a striker, you would use wrestling to keep the fight on its feet. If you are a great ground fighter, then you would use wrestling to force the fight to the ground. As you can see, wrestling is a critical part of becoming a complete MMA stylist.

Ground game
In the UFC and other free-for-all venues, it has been proven over and over that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is the most effective art on the ground. In fact, it is probably the most effective art for 1-on-1 combat in the world today. In the ring or the cage, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the single most effective art. Of course, in real life self-defense situations, perfect 1-on-1 situations are rare. If you need to deal with 2 people at once, then BJJ has its limitations. Nevertheless, BJJ is widely regarded as one of the best martial arts in the world today. The basic premise for BJJ is that 90% of fights end up on the ground. The key is to be able to control and to force an adversary to quit while on the ground. BJJ applies this concept through positions and submissions.

So how do you become an expert in all the arts? The answer is that it is nearly impossible to do. The best professional MMA fighters are typically well versed in all 3 pillars of striking, takedowns, and ground game. However, they are usually an expert in 1 of the 3. Why? Because some people feel more comfortable standing up and other feel more comfortable on the ground. It is kind of like why are some people right-handed and others are left-handed. It is because there is a natural tendency to favor one side or the other (and then become an expert with that hand). The same is true for MMA.

It is important to know and train in all 3 areas. However, to become a truly great MMA stylist, you must become an expert in either Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or Wrestling and learn to use the other 2 pillars to your advantage.

We hope this brief write up is useful to your adventures of becoming a complete martial artist!

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts. Achieve Greatness Within.