Long gone are the days of one-dimensional fighters finding noteworthy success within the UFC’s Octagon. These days, to showcase a level of incompetence or deficiency in any single facet of physical combat is practically a guaranteed career death sentence. To compete on the grandest stage requires a sound understanding of wrestling, the submission game and the ever crowd-pleasing art of striking. Miss a beat, and you’re behind the curve.
Keep in mind that being subpar in any one area doesn’t automatically condemn a fighter to inevitable failure. It does, however, drastically decrease the chances of reaching the upper echelon of the sport. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule; Jon Fitch, while a competent striker, has never displayed an overtly fluent or impressive pugilistic arsenal, but his wrestling has enabled him to amass an impressive 14-2-1 record inside the Octagon. But exceptions are just that, exceptions: Guys like Jon Fitch are anything but typical.
Once panned as the thinnest division in mixed martial arts, the heavyweight category has developed quite well over the last half decade. The big men are learning to strike, and they’re learning to do so with a precision that comes with countless hours of work.
There was a time when labeling 10 truly refined strikers north of 205 pounds was a daunting task, particularly within the ranks of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Those days, however, have all but disappeared. There are a wealth of solid strikers signed to the world’s largest MMA promotion, and while not every man to prove lethal with his extremities from a vertical position is a star wrestler or feared submission specialist, the big boys have established the fact that their fists, feet, knees and elbows are weapons to be feared.