The early MMA events; style vs. style – strikers resembled a fish out of water when the fight hit the ground and the grapplers desperately tried to secure a takedown before they got knocked out. The fighters were very one dimensional as most martial art schools only taught 1 specific style. Today, as you already know, many gyms are offering training in various styles as well as specific MMA classes that teach you how to blend it all together. Check out this clip I found from UFC 2.
A lot has changed since then. These days, MMA fighters are truly “ultimate fighters”. They can strike. They can wrestle. And of course, they can slap on a submission the second you make a mistake. They’re a new breed. True modern day warriors. There are a few names that stand out when I think about how the fighters have evolved. How can you even devise an effective game plan against the likes of…
Fedor Emelianenko: Watch him fight and it’s hard to believe that the guy’s even human. While engaged in combat, he resembles a cyborg/terminator type more than anything. He has the speed of a lightweight, but with heavyweight power. Stand and strike with him and he’ll pick you apart with unorthodox, looping punches. Try to clinch him up you’ll get flipped on your ass before you even know what happened. Then once the fight hits the ground; oh boy – it’s pretty much over. You’ll either get relentlessly pounded into submission or you’ll get your arm broken. If you do land a crushing blow on him (Randleman, Fujita), it still likely won’t be enough to stop him. His conditioning is top notch, so don’t count on him getting tired either. Fedor Emelianenko – a perfect example of a modern ultimate fighter.
Georges St. Pierre: George St Pierre (GSP) is the true definition of an “ultimate fighter”. What’s his speciality? He doesn’t really have one. What’s his weakness then? He doesn’t really have one of those either. St. Pierre is so well versed in karate, kickboxing, wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that it really doesn’t matter where the fight takes place. He can out-wrestle champion wrestlers (Koscheck, Hughes) and strike with strikers (although he’s mostly fought wrestlers/grapplers). He’s quick, strong and he’s able to transition between styles very well.
Anderson Silva: How do you even devise a game plan against a guy like this? Strike with him and you’ll get knocked out, clinch with him and you’ll need reconstructive surgery and if you try to take him to the ground, well, you’ll most likely end up getting choked out as Silva has earned a BJJ black belt from the Nogueira brothers.
These are 3 fighters (there are others) that, when fighting, perfectly exemplify the evolution of the mixed martial artist. Since those early UFC days, the fighters have certainly evolved from one-dimensional brawlers to “ultimate fighters”. The future looks bright, the sport is still growing and we’ve only scratched the surface.
With the influx of MMA gyms popping up all over the world, the talent pool is growing by the day and I can only imagine how talented the fighters are going to be in the next 5-10 years.
Speaking of which, check out this kid ..