Mixed martial arts: "mano a mano," "as real as it gets"—our sport has always been premised on separating fact from fantasy, showing that while flamboyance and technical elegance may turn heads in Hollywood fight scenes, they have little to do with live combat.
As fans, MMA's gritty realism is not something we accept begrudgingly; rather, we are thrilled by watching an event which is "real," and free from the charlatanism associated with some traditional styles. We know that in terms of technique, natural selection operates in the Octagon, ensuring that fighters bring only their most effective weapons to battle. Whatever competitors may say when hyping a fight, few careers have been built on showmanship at the expense of effectiveness.
For years then, a plethora of techniques drawn from traditional martial arts have been condemned as "flashy" or "ineffectual," unsuitable for use in the cage. However, as fighters incorporate movie-style kicks, cranks and takedowns into their arsenal, we may be forced to re-think which movements are "useful" in MMA.
As competitors like Anthony Pettis and Lyoto Machida have consistently shown, the diversity found within a fighter's toolbox depends entirely on the skill of the individual; a spinning kick which is useless to one person may be employed to devastating effect by another.
The following slides depict recent moments when techniques were reclaimed from the dustbin, when we all rose from our seats in awe. Here's to the men who keep our sport evolving, who marry elegance and efficiency, who show us things we never thought we'd see in MMA.