Fred__Elliott wrote:I'm only an armchair watcher but I love watching someone knowledgeable about the ground game go in depth into it, As Biggy said its generally BJJ and Wrestling for the ground. Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Boxing for the stand up would be what most strikers focus on in a training camp. ITs evolved to a state where you have to be very good in all aspects now, rather than 1 discipline vs another as when it started out.
The reason BJJ is so prominent is that it offers so many opportunities to both submit an opponent from different positions and defend against your typical wrestling groundgame. Being able to defend when you're taken down and knowing what your opponent is trying to set up is vital. The success Royce Gracie had in the early days against guys much bigger than him (there were no weight classes) opened peoples eyes. Its the reason John Kavanagh is involved in the sport. Of course, if you can stop the fight going to the ground, as McGregor has been relatively successful in doing so far in his career in the UFC, then it doesnt matter too much. People highlight his lack of a ground game, and I would genuinely like to see how good he is on the ground as it might surprise people. Not against Khabib though
One of my favourite fights last year was Gunnar against Maia. As Keith say, the more you see it the more you appreciate it. If I wasnt such a lazy armchair cunt I think I would take up BJJ
Little late to the discussion but thought I'd chime in. I actually go on quite a big ramble. The last paragraph at least has a worthwhile point.
With every separate discipline you have different rules for competing so each one ends up with some odd practices that work for that sport but would be impractical in a fight situation. The UFC in its first inception looked to remove as many of these oddities and impractical practices by removing as many rules as possible.
The Gracies took traditional Jiu Jitsu and over a generation morphed it into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I couldn't tell you the big differences between the two but the most important thing is that BJJ was trained "live" against resisting opponents. A technique either worked or it didn't work, no room for bullshit. All of the dominate styles (Boxing, Muai Thai, Wrestling, BJJ) have this in common. Any discipline that didn't was quickly dismissed as bullshit.
BJJ first and foremost is a self defense art. It's trained in a Gi (Judo pyjamas) and the primary focus is to keep yourself safe. Having a Gi on actually makes you more vulnerable as you can be controlled, tied up and choked unconscious with it. From standing it very much resembles Judo but with less hip tosses (no ippons, and you expose your back). Another concept that it does well is it's utilisation of distance management, if the attacker is too far away or too close, they can't do any significant damage with strikes. Break down their posture and the person on top can't put any power into their strikes and can't do any damage (see Mendes-McGregor).
The importance of BJJ level can get overstated quite a bit in the UFC. Belts are only awarded for Gi Jiu-Jitsu (outside of a few schools) so a world champion black belt isn't necessarily going to transfer over as their style may rely too heavily on the Gi. There are whole systems like worm-guard, lasso-guard and spider-guard that are utterly unworkable once you’ve no jacket to grip on to and control.
The Gracies were involved in the running of the early UFCs and it was a very successful showcase for BJJ. For a while they avoided inviting other submission grapplers and cemented Gracie Jiu Jitsu as the most effective martial art. There were no big visible competitions in the West for Catch Wrestling or Pro-Wrestling and there were plenty of fixes and a blurred line between sports entertainment, so BJJ entered that void. They also purposefully put in the smaller Royce instead of the family Champion Rickson.
BJJ is undoubtedly an incredibly effective art and a base level is absolutely required. A good base knowledge can negate a large skill discrepancy (see Ryan Hall v Artem Lobov) which makes the work of Maia and Nurmagedmenov all the more impressive. Nurmagedmenov by the way is a Combat Sambo fighter (MMA with a Gi jacket as far as I can tell). BJJ like any self respecting “live” martial art readily absorbs any effective techniques from other disciplines so a lot of submission grappling techniques all get referred to as BJJ.
For stand-up grappling it’s predominately Wrestling, or aspects of it. Freestyle Wrestling if you’re shooting in or dropping down for legs, Greco Roman if it’s upper body throws, limited bit of Judo but you’d want to take them by surprise and/or be very good. Muai Thai is also incorporated for knees or elbows in the clinch and a limited bit of dirty boxing (uppercuts being most effective).
Outside of the clinch Muai Thai can be a bit limited due to its rule set. In traditional Muai Thai you have a square on and tall stance. It allows you to keep your weight balanced so any leg can be quickly raised for a check/knee/switch kick. Evasive footwork or movement is not used much, points are not scored for clean accurate hits but for “effective” hits that knock your opponent off balance and prevent them from answering back straight away with their own attack. What you do get though are extremely strong round kicks that turn to whole hip around and slam the shin through your opponent like a bat, knees driven through your gut and elbows that slice eyebrows open. The wide stance restricts your movement though and leaves you prone to a fighter that cuts angles and also to double leg takedowns.
On the other hand Boxing’s “bladed” side on stance makes for a small profile and narrower target (see also TKD/ karate). Big gloves allow you to use a shell defense, clinching up causes a reset. I actually don’t know all that much about Boxing as I’ve never really watched it and find it a bit daft and limited now. As gruelling as Wrestling is though, 12 rounds at Boxing pace is exhausting and needs huge stamina. Boxing will give you fast hands, good head movement, parries, feints, footwork. The small gloves, kicks to those heavy front legs, knees to a bobbing/weaving opponent makes MMA boxing a completely different game to traditional boxing. Hell, those big daft looking waist bands protect half the body.
MMA is still a very young sport. Compromises to the no-rules had to be made and an MMA game has appeared as a result. GSP came from a karate background and became one of the best MMA wrestlers (and jabbers) through his smooth mixing with striking. Jon Jones, a BBJ white belt and high school wrestler out grappled an Olympic level wrestler. Young fighters are appearing who don’t have backgrounds outside of MMA. SBG on the Long-Mile Rd have a kids programme run by Owen Roddy that looks like a Medieval army in training.
The different disciplines only really give us a vocabulary, no single discipline has been adopted wholesale but many have provided techniques, some of the better techniques were already being shared/adapted by a number of disciplines. Techniques from disciplines that were once wholly disregarded are being incorporated and effectively used by well rounded opponents now.
There still will be those guys that are very highly skilled in particular aspects and techniques that will make the gap between their opponents look huge. It’s the old Bruce Lee adage of “Don’t fear the man who practices 10,000 different kicks, fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” Only trouble is, if you're wholly ignorant to too many of those 10,00o different techniques you run the risk of being caught by one.
Joe Rogan has always done a great job of making the ground game accessible, he’s also very knowledgeable with striking (Ronda Rousey comments aside). He’s never fought MMA though and that huge grey area between Striking and the Ground game that makes MMA distinct to everything else doesn't always get commented on. With the increased use of ex-fighters doing commentary though, viewers are going to get better and better explanations of the techniques that are particular to MMA. There's also the whole aspect of fighting against the cage, which is not a part of any other sport that I can think of.