How to Excel in MMA

Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA as it is known in most circles, is the fastest growing sport in the world. It is also certainly one of the most exciting. Whether it is a hobby or a full time profession, what is the secret of becoming a great MMA practitioner?

At Evolve MMA, we believe it breaks down to the following:

1) Have a core art.  This topic is debated quite hotly in the MMA world. Should you spend 10 years as a BJJ guy in order to become an expert and then later learn some Muay Thai? Or should you cross-train equally at the very start of your martial arts career? At Evolve, we believe that you should definitely cross-train (see the article on Cross Training). That being said, we also believe that you should have a core art. The key is to focus on one art while learning other arts at a slower pace. If you look at a UFC World Champion, Anderson Silva, you will see a Muay Thai guy first and then a BJJ Black Belt second. He even admits to being more comfortable on his feet than on the ground. Yet he is an expert at both striking and grappling. Nevertheless, his core art is Muay Thai. While it would be ideal to be 100% comfortable in both standup or the ground, most MMA practitioners will naturally gravitate to one or the other based on innate and learned qualities. A simple analogy is that some people prefer use their right hands versus their left hands and vice-versa. In today's world, you will see that most UFC Champions will have a core art even though they are also well-versed in other arts. Of course, the future may be different.

2) Be seamless.  At a minimum, you need to be well-versed in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, and Boxing. However, it is not enough to be good at those disciplines. You also need to know how to transition from one art to the other in a seamless fashion. If you look at UFC Middleweight Champion Georges St Pierres, you can see what we mean by seamless. When he fought Josh Koscheck, he took him down at will even though Koscheck was by far the more decorated wrestler. Why? While Koscheck is a phenomenal wrestler, his transition from strikes to takedowns is subpar. It is exactly this concept that cost him the fight. GSP has the remarkable ability of striking and setting up his takedowns in a seamless fashion. Meanwhile, Koscheck has a compartmentalized game. On a standalone basis, his strikes are pretty good and his wrestling is awesome. However, he does not put it together in a seamless fashion. One art does not flow into the other. The next time you watch GSP fight, watch very closely how he goes from striking to takedowns to grappling to striking, etc. GSP flows from one art to the next without blinking an eye. If you want to be a good MMA practitioner, focus on seamlessness.

3) Work on your cardio.   Cardio is the engine to your whole game. If you have poor cardio, then you will not be able to maximize your potential. While it sounds simple, you really should run or do circuit training to complement your game. Alternatively, you should mix it up with other martial arts. From experience, we can tell you that Muay Thai works your cardiovascular system very differently than BJJ does. (Muay Thai takes your heart rate to very high levels for short periods whereas BJJ takes your heart rate to moderately high levels for long periods). If you do both, your heart, lungs, and oxygen transfer mechanisms will all benefit. Interval training is wonderful for your cardiovascular system. At Evolve, we like training with 3 minute rounds with 1 minute rest for Muay Thai and 5 minute rounds with 1 minute rest for BJJ.

4) Make sure that you know the 4 ranges.  The 4 ranges of MMA are kicking range, punching range, clinch range, and ground range. To do well in MMA, you need to be fluent in all ranges, especially the transition game. Again, the key is to know all 4 ranges AND be able to transition smoothly between all of the ranges.

5) Always EVOLVE.  This concept is probably the most important. Of course, we are biased because it is our name! All jokes aside, the best MMA practitioners are always evolving and growing. It is the Darwinian approach to MMA. It is survival of the fittest, the fastest learners, and the constant improvers. If you are a BJJ Black Belt and think that you will do fine in MMA without training in other arts, you are seriously mistaken. If you are a Muay Thai Champion and think that you do not need to know anything about the ground, then you will find yourself in for a rude awakening. In all seriousness, the reason that Evolve Mixed Martial Arts was named Evolve Mixed Martial Arts is because the only long term truth to martial arts is to EVOLVE. The game is constantly changing. Life is constantly changing. Nothing stays in one place. As human beings, we have an internal craving (conscious or subconscious) to learn, grow, evolve, and progress. Tap into that desire and make it your mission to EVOLVE for the rest of your martial arts career!

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts®.  Achieve Greatness Within™.