Lessons from UFC 107

BJ Penn is a BJJ World Champion.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is his foundation.  3 years after he started learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he unbelievably earned a Black Belt and also became World Champion by winning the Mundials World Championship in the same year.  He was the first non-Brazilian to do so and his ascent from White Belt to Black Belt World Champion is the fastest ever recorded in history.  BJ Penn is currently the UFC Lightweight World Champion in MMA and he is on his way to becoming a legend with his unbelievable performance at UFC 107 ( this past weekend.

It is interesting to note that BJ Penn did not go to the ground even once during his title defense against top ranked #1 contender, Diego Sanchez, this past weekend.  Sanchez has a brutal ground game based on his wrestling.  He uses a ground and pound approach to attain victory on the ground.  While it is most likely that BJ Penn would have won the fight anyways if it went to the ground, BJ Penn opted to exploit his opponent's glaring weakness - Sanchez has elementary striking ability at best.  BJ Penn opted not to use his feared Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game.  He chose to keep the fight on its feet and turn it into a striking match.  Sanchez desperately tried to take BJ Penn down to the ground, but he could not do so.  As a result, BJ Penn completely dominated Sanchez and exposed him as a beginner in the standup game.  BJ Penn landed 150 strikes while Sanchez landed only 8 strikes.  BJ Penn also stuffed an amazing 27 takedown attempts by Sanchez.  Truly impressive numbers.  

In today's world of Mixed Martial Arts, BJ Penn clearly illustrated the meaning of well-rounded fighter.   He can stand and fight.  Or he can go to the ground and fight.  To BJ Penn, it does not really matter.  Even though Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is his core strength, his striking has become world-class.

So what is the main lesson from UFC 107 and BJ Penn's performance?

To be a complete fighter, you must have both strong striking and ground games.  In the modern era of MMA, it is impossible to deny the truth.  The truth is that the person who evolves is the person who wins.  You must inherit a strong standup and ground game to be considered truly proficient at MMA.  The same also rings true for self-defense situations in real life.  In a self-defense situation, you might end up on the ground on a soccer field or you might end up standing in an elevator.  You must be able to defend yourself equally well in all situations and surroundings.

The key to success in martial arts and in life is to evolve continuously.  If you do not evolve, you wither away.   So keep improving and evolving!  

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