Today, mixed martial artists train in a variety of styles that have been proven effective in the ring, so that they can be effective in all the phases of combat. Although MMA fighters will try to play to their particular specialties, they will inevitably encounter all kinds of situations; a stand-up fighting specialist will probably get taken down at some point and a submission artist might need to fight standing-up for a while before he can complete a takedown. A mixed martial artist might train in a particular style to enhance his or her skills in the phase of combat that the style encompasses. Typical styles, known for their effectiveness, that have been trained prior to the MMA career, and that are trained individually to enhance a particular phase of combat, are:
MMA competition requires training in striking, wrestling, and submission fighting.Stand-up: Boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai are trained to improve footwork, elbowing, kicking, kneeing and punching.
Clinch: Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, Sambo, and Judo are trained to improve clinching, takedowns and throws, while Muay Thai is trained to improve the striking aspect of the clinch.
Ground: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, shoot wrestling, catch wrestling, Judo, and Sambo are trained to improve submission holds, and defense against them. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and styles of amateur wrestling are trained to improve positioning.
Many styles have to be adapted slightly for use in the sport. For example, several boxing stances are ineffective because they leave fighters vulnerable to leg kicks or takedowns. Similarly, Judo techniques have to be adapted to an opponent not wearing a judogi. Commonly, modern day MMA fighters do not train in any particular style, but either train in multiple styles with multiple coaches, or train in teams with other MMA athletes focusing specifically on MMA fighting. Energy system training, speed drills, strength training and flexibility are also important aspects of an MMA fighters training. Mixed martial arts competition is very demanding physically, and the athletes need to be in top shape to be successful.
Modern fighting strategies
The following is a breakdown of the different fighting styles of modern MMA. Most successful fighters are known to train in multiple fighting styles under the guidance of experts. Professional fighters generally concentrate on mastering one particular style and eventually become associated with it.
Sprawl-and-brawl is a stand-up fighting tactic that consists of effective stand-up striking, while avoiding ground fighting, typically by using sprawls to defend against takedowns.
A sprawl-and-brawler is usually a boxer, kickboxer, Muay Thai and/or full contact karate fighter who has trained in wrestling to avoid takedowns and tries to keep the fight standing. Usually these fighters will study enough submission wrestling so that in the unfortunate event that they are taken down to the ground, they can tie their opponents up and survive long enough to either get back to standing or until the referee restarts the fight. This style is deceptively different from regular kickboxing styles, since sprawl-and-brawlers must adapt their techniques to incorporate takedown and ground fighting defense.
Examples: Maurice Smith, Forrest Griffin, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovi?, Chuck Liddell, Pedro Rizzo, Tim Sylvia, Takanori Gomi, Anderson Silva and Wanderlei Silva.
Clinch-and-pound is a clinch fighting tactic that consists of using a clinch hold to prevent the opponent from moving away into more distant striking range, while at the same time striking the opponent using knees, stomps and dirty boxing techniques.
Clinch-and-pounders are usually wrestlers that have added in components of the striking game (typically boxing). Often, wrestlers that have added the striking game are partial to strikes from within the clinch (particularly wrestlers who have developed a strong clinch game already). In the case that an exchange on the feet does not go in their favor, they can bring the fight to the ground quickly as their true expertise lies in wrestling, so they are ultimately less timid about trading blows. Through the use of Greco-Roman clinching techniques, a third phase, clinch fighting, was not well understood and could be used to devastate ill-prepared opponents.
Examples: Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Evan Tanner, Wanderlei Silva, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Don Frye.
Ryan Purwick (top) works the guard of Joaquin Velasco.Ground-and-pound is a ground fighting tactic consisting of taking an opponent to the ground using a takedown or throw, obtaining a dominant position, and then striking the opponent. Ground and pound is also used as a precursor to attempting submission holds.
This style is used by wrestlers or other fighters well-versed in defending submission holds and skilled at takedowns. They take every fight to the ground, maintain a grappling position, and strike until their opponent submits, is knocked out or is cut so badly that the fight can not continue. Although not traditionally considered a conventional method of striking, the effectiveness and reliability (as well as recently-developing science) of this style is proven. Originally, most fighters who relied on striking on the ground were wrestlers, but considering how many fights end up on the ground and how increasingly competitive today's MMA is, strikes on the ground are becoming more essential to a fighter's training.
Examples: Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, Matt Hughes and Tito Ortiz.
Apart from being a general martial arts term, submission wrestling is also a reference to the ground fighting tactic consisting of taking an opponent to the ground using a takedown or throw, obtaining a dominant position, and then applying a submission hold to defeat the opponent. Some submission wrestlers are also content to work from the bottom position because they are confident that they can find a way to secure a submission. They will sometimes fall back into the guard position, dragging the opponent with them. This is known as "pulling guard."