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The Evolution of Mixed Martial Arts

January 27, 2013 All MMA News, Blogs  Comments 

Remember the days when Royce Gracie’s BJJ would submit any fighter, or Tito Ortiz’ ground and pound determined the fate of any opponent in the octagon, or when “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell was proclaimed to be the crème of the crop of MMA; now that belief has become a mere thought. Due to younger and more diverse styled fighters like Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz and Jon Jones, who appear to control their division, perhaps other weight divisions if the competition dose not decided to move with this wave of hybrid styled fighters. The first class of MMA fighters whom appeared to be invincible with one set of dominating fighting skill, have become instinct due to their inability to compete with fighters like Jon Jones who have established their own fighting styles to defeat one dimensional fighters and versatile fighters who set foot in the octagon. These type of fighters are proving to be the future of MMA.

The fastest growing sport today, MMA, has risen and excelled beyond expectation, due to their outstanding fights and world class fighters and fights. For example, fights like UFC 71 Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson; that had fans waiting every single minute till fight night, Chuck Liddell the most feared fighter in the UFC in his prime, the Light heavyweight champion seeking to avenge his career losses after taking out every opponent thrown at him, Liddell was on track to becoming one in a million fighters in mixed martial arts. Liddell had all the motivation to go on and avenge his loss against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and retain his title, however that all vanished in one minute and fifty- three seconds of the first round. Jackson had landed a devastating looping right hook to the jaw of the former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, who then after never recovered fully after his second loss to Jackson. Liddell went on to see the light of victory once out his five bouts, leading him to retire after another k-o loss to Rich Franklin at UFC 115. After seeing the fighters like Liddell, BJ Penn, and Matt Hughes fall off their throne at the hand of younger and more mixed skilled fighters, the new fighters in the UFC today have evolved from only wrestling base or muay- thai based fighter to fighters like Benson Henderson, Jon Jones, Alistar Overeem who are unpredictable, and have a hybrid like fighting style.

For instance, nobody believed that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s title rein would come to an end after one title defense. Contrary to belief, Shogun looked to give Anderson Silva’s ten title defenses a challenge. Unfortunately, young aspiring contender Jon Jones defeated Rua. Jones, who looks to be unbeatable in the light heavyweight division, took down Rua to the canvas many times during their fight and made Rua’s dominating Muay- thai look below average against Jones. Picking Rua apart, Jones finally finished Rua in the third round via TKO. As a result, new aspiring fighters in mixed martial arts have been able to defeat MMA legends; making it easier for fighters to game plan against a fighter whose fighting style is only BJJ and Kickboxing, instead of a fighter who has an amorphous fighting style. Take for example, Rory Mc Donald vs. Bj Penn on UFC on Fox. Penn was persistent to keep the fighting standing even if that meant Mc Donald landing another three to five hit and kick combo on BJ Penn’s face, who is known to have outstanding boxing, but the younger and more diverse Mc Donald picked his spots and landed hits on Penn. Furthermore, if Penn would have mixed his BJJ and boxing perhaps the outcome would have been different, instead the fans got an unconfident striking Penn trying to survive till the end of the fight and lose by unanimous decision. Also Forrest Griffin who has fallen from rising hopes of becoming one of the greats will now be remembered as the Ultimate fighter season one winner, which is nothing to be ashamed of but, agreed that every fighter who sets foot in the octagon wants to go down as one of the greatest. Griffin’s on and off win streak has not allowed him to not go down as one of the greats. Also his stand and trade fighting style has lead him to become one sided and easier to defeat. Griffin’s fighting style can take a fighter only so far till the fighting style becomes clear to future opponents.

On the other hand fighters, such as Alistar Overeem, Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez are the perfect examples of the new day UFC fighters; who’s fighting style are what UFC fans and fighters are getting get used to. For Instance, who would believe that a fighter like Dominick Cruz would come into a fight and the first blow thrown is a flying knee to his opponent.  Cruz fighting style consists of a mix of BJJ, Boxing and wrestling, and uses these skills in all of his fights, making it easier on Cruz to adapt to any fighting situation or any fighting style. Cruz’ fighting style was best displayed in his second fight versus Urijah Faber. Cruz’ Boxing, what looked more like kick- boxing and wrestling, was fun to watch, making the fight a very exciting fight. Also, proving that if a solid one base fighter went in to face Cruz that night the fight would have been a one sided fight instead of a mix of fighting style colliding second after second. In addition, lightweight fighter, Daron Cruickshank looks promising in his weight division, with various fighting skills, such as, wrestling, tae-kwon-do and kickboxing, and has used it profoundly. Cruickshank’s previous bout with Henry Martinez was outstanding. His tae-kwon-do and kickboxing was displayed to the UFC fans and eventually led to him to a victory via head kick.  As a result fighters with diversified fighting styles have shown why the UFC has been progressing, and why fighters like Matt Hughes and BJ Penn have not been able to compete successfully against fighters of this caliber.

Another important thing to note is how the UFC and the world of mixed martial arts will transition with the new day and age fighters. Viewers can expect exciting unpredictable type of fights. For example, Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir is one fight; fans should definitely tune in to watch. Daniel Cormier who has both great wrestling and boxing goes up against Frank Mir who has improving boxing and great BJJ to possibly end Cormier’s undefeated fight streak.  Also, fights will be more entertaining and unreal, due to the types of k-o to come and the use of fighting styles mixed into one to walk out victorious. For instance, fighters like welterweight Eric Silva and bantamweight Ivan Menjivar are fighters fans should keep their eyes close on. When these fighters set foot into the octagon fans can be promised, flying knees, head kicks flying arm bars, things only rarely seen or seen in video games. The future in mixed martial arts looks to be an exciting one.

All things considered, mixed martial art has come a long way from basically no holds barred fights to a sanctioned exciting sport. As well the types of fighters have come a long way from what it once was. When fans were first introduced to the UFC the Legend Royce Gracie who set the mark for the UFC and Jiu- jitsu, then Mark “The Hammer” Coleman the “godfather” of ground and pound and wrestling who won the UFC heavyweight tournament, Brandon Vera who beat Frank Mir and promised to become the first fighter to hold two championships in two weight divisions at the same time, and Anderson Silva, the first type of fighter who fans are becoming adjusted to seeing fight, the type of fighter who ducks fast, rapid punches aimed at his face, and wins fights with a jab or a complete kick to the face. These types of fighters have evolved the sport and made the fighters in the past a dying breed as I have previously explained.   For this reason my interest towards the sport has grown, and why the sport’s success will grow. At one point we were used to watching Wanderlei Silva use his muay- thai to beat any opponent now we will see Rich Franklin outbox Silva and win. In addition, Fedor Emelianenko who would use his K-O power to defeat any opponent at any given moment was exposed after Fabricio Werdum used a phenomenal triangle choke to submit Emelianenko. The transition of fighters like Penn and Hughes is eye opening and exciting. Fans were used to seeing Penn dominate the lightweight division, until Frankie Edgar came along to beat Penn twice to prove Penn was no longer the king of the lightweight division.

In essence, competition is always around the corner, and it is up to the fighter whether they prefer to go with the “wave and build your fighting skills” or stick to your fundamentals, and risk the possibility of losing your ranking for title contention or the belt but, one thing fighters should always remember, whether they are diverse in their fighting styles or not, a fight is always one lucky hit on the button away from winning and losing the fight.

By Cesar Hernandez.

Why not tell us what you think about this story and get your thoughts featured in this week’s edition of MMABay Radio? Email Mailbag@mmabay.co.uk, start the subject with the word ‘RADIO MAILBAG’ and we’ll talk about our favourites on the next show.

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