Ancient fighters vs todays MMAers

I have a two part question. Fight Historians please chime in, or anyone else for that matter.

By now we’re all aware that the Ancient Greeks had a combative sport called Pankration which could be argued is the original MMA. What do you think the matches looked like? What did the striking look like, subs, grappling, etc…? How did these fights look?

I have no doubt that the participants in these matches were some tough dudes. The rules, or lack there of, tell us this.

If we took a champion from back then and had him face a champion from today in the same weight class, how would the fight go down? Would the modern day MMA champ win 9/10 due to the advantage of having techniques that the ancient fighter would not be aware of? Could the ancient fighter maybe have some old school stuff up his sleeve that modern MMA has left in the past?

I think it would not be so much the technique, but the nutrition, physical prep improvements would see today's prepared guys be more advanced...

But what do I know...

Agreed Mag. Most of todays fighters even if they were dirt poor growing up, lived a relativley soft lifestyle. Training for hours everyday later in life i dont think would give one a physical advantage over a guy who has been highly physically active from the very begining.

The Greek Pankration fighters were waaaaaay tougher than any modern fighters. They also had enough technique to deal with todays fighters. I remember seeing a program about the original Olympics and some figher pulling out an internal organ of his opponent with his hand Road House style!

very cool thread, I've often though about this myself. There's almost no denying that the techniques of today are more refined then those of the days of greek pankration. Only because of the fact that the sport is so widely practiced nowadays.

I personally believe that as migueli stated, the difference would be in the physical training and the science of proper diet, exercise and sleep patterns. As well as the fact that most fighters nowadays don't have to pick olives and slaughter sheep all day to feed their families.

It would be cool however to see a match of this kind take place, just to see the difference in strategies and to see a current MMA pro try and deal with a naked man trying to grapple him and kick him in the nuts. (don't forget, this was all deemed acceptable back then.)

Given the fact that humans have always had the same number of limbs, gravity has been the same, and people have wrestled for thousands of years, it's safe to assume that people would arrive at the same basic techniques for applying submissions through out human history. Maybe they were lost for a while but at some point someone else though of these techniques. Since grappling and fighting are very basic in that they don't require any implements in order to be done, I would assume some ancient people must have arrived at same/similar techniques as todays fighters.

They would therefore have at least comparable techniques and possibly be tougher people given the conditions some must've lived in. Heart and decent technique could take them pretty far. Also, some of these matches in ancient times were to the death or with literally no rules and that changes the dynamic of a fight.

As people say that TMAs don't prepare someone for a fight as well as the more reality based MMA, I would assume MMA doesn't prepare someone for a fight to the death or maybe even for early UFC rules.

The athlete of today is so far removed from the ancient athlete that it would have to be a true genetic freak to even pose a challenge to todays guys. People today are bigger, stronger, faster and can be even more so due to chemical enhancement. It would not be close, life was a lot more difficult in ancient times but a guy like crocop kicking you in the balls when you are naked (not wearing a cup) is probably going to kill you, or make you wish it had.

The athletic disparity I think is being exaggerated between the two. Remember, in today’s society anyone can procreate. The talent pool is larger but there is a lot of athletic waste in that pool. I feel in ancient times being a hard, tough, psychical specimen was rewarded by procreation and having your lineage procreate.

This would lead me to believe that there were some naturally tough and athletic guys back then from sheer genetics. Just cause a guy today drinks Metrex and does plyometrics doesn’t necessarily make him a better athlete.

NoPlacebo is correct.

I'm pretty sure that Conan would ass-rape any modern day MMA fighter, and their Team, at the same time.

 Mike Potato is correct.

You need to address the rule variations of pankration of yesteryear and todays MMA. Small joint manipulation was a favorite back then. As far as I know groin shots were about the only thing not allowed. Also take into consideration that they wore leather straps to wrap their hands. regards to the following statement:
"People back then were generally tougher because they lived in horrible conditions"
Some people back then lived in poor conditions, but generally speaking the pankration competitors were fairly well off, if not very well off. They generally had relatives in high places; which why the had the time to train... as well as the opportunity to compete.

These guys weren't the highest of society, but werent hurting...they saw the opportunity to advance themselves further through pankration events, and openly admitted they did it for "glory and fame".

I think that the ancient fighters wouldnt have a hope against a modern mma fighter. Just look the olympics as an example. Atheletes keep getting better and better and records keep getting broken. Its because the science of producing a better athelete keeps getting better and better.


Fighters of the old world were worshiped like Gods. Their training was insane.
Read Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture
Author: Poliakoff, Michael B.

Best book on the subject

Hey ALx - thanks for adding the sort of stupidity you can only find here on the UG

Reilly, ive been meaning to read that. Until then, Any example of "insane' training?

alxholic, i see now how you got to over 26k posts.

Fedor by KO

what about ninjas? and samurais? and ancient kung fu meditators? what about weird hindu people who can spit fireballs across the ground and stretch their limbs far enough to kick you in the face and nearly knock you out from 10 feet away? w

Ancient Greece was based on having a lot of slaves. The athletes didn't, as far as I know, do a lot of manual labour. They could more or less dedicate themselves to the sports. The really good athletes were worshipped as heroes and could pretty much do what they pleased.

Correct me if I'm wrong. This is just what I seem to remember from my ancient history classes...