The phrase “grinding” isn’t always viewed with the most respect from casual MMA fans who simply look for the highlight-reel knockouts in every fight, but for those who truly enjoy the sport of mixed martial arts, sometimes, there can be nothing more impressive than a great, dominating performance where one guy simply imposes his will on his opponent.
That’s what happened on Saturday night when Minnesota-native Nik Lentz took it to Diego Nunes on the Fuel TV portion of the UFC on FX 7 fight card. Like he has done so many times in the past, Lentz made use of his non-stop motor to bully Nunes around the cage on his way to a unanimous-decision victory.
Lentz has become known for his grinding style, but he’s not the only guy who’s making a living by being a gritty grappler.
Here are the five best grinders in MMA today.
Now 2-0 since making his move down to the featherweight division, Nik Lentz is looking more and more like a serious force to be reckoned with in his new weight class.
Lentz made short work of Eiji Mitsuoka at UFC 150 then grinded out a one-sided decision against Diego Nunes at UFC on FX 7 on Saturday night. But those victories alone don’t tell the story of just how much of a motor this guy has.
In Lentz’s seven career UFC wins, he has grinded his way to a decision five times.
Now training with a new camp at American Top Team, Lentz will be looking to earn himself a shot at UFC gold sometime in 2013.
After four years in the sport, Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren remains undefeated, utilizing his Olympic-level wrestling to completely stifle the offense of just about every opponent he has ever gone up against.
Although he started off his career with four straight finishes, including a submission in his Bellator debut, Askren has since gone on a streak of six straight victories by way of decision. During that stretch, only one bout against Jay Hieron in October 2011 was even close.
Askren has taken a lot of heat for his “boring” style from fans, but as long as it’s working, who can blame him?
UFC lightweight Jacob Volkmann possesses a very similar skill set and fighting style to his former teammate at The Academy, Nik Lentz.
In Volkmann’s seven career UFC wins, he has only finished one opponent—Shane Roller this past October—despite completely dominating almost all of his opponents in those victories.
Volkmann will have a chance to get his seventh win in his past eight fights if he’s able to take out the highly athletic former Strikeforce competitor Bobby Green.
Perhaps, the most hated-on fighter on this list is former top UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch.
Using his frustratingly dominant wrestling to hold down and beat up his opponents, Fitch has put together one of the best records in the history of the promotion at 14-2-1. He has not finished an opponent since June 2007 when he submitted Roan Carneiro.
As the poster child for “grinding,” Fitch has simply doesn’t care how he wins, so long as he is winning. That has led him to some lackluster fights and kept him away from many fight night bonuses.
In fact, in his 17 career UFC fights, Fitch has only earned one two-fight night bonuses. He earned one for his loss against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87 and earned the other one in his most recent victory over Erick Silva at UFC 153.
For all of the trash talking that Chael Sonnen does, you’d think that he would be the most stone cold killer that the sport has ever seen. While he is certainly one of the best in the world, the truth is that Sonnen simply isn’t much of a finisher.
As we saw in both of his fights against Anderson Silva, Sonnen is skilled enough to take down and control literally anyone in the sport. The problem is that while he does land from the top, he doesn’t often do enough damage to put his opponents away.
Thus, it was Silva who came out on top in both contests, despite arguably losing five of the seven total rounds he has fought against Sonnen in their two bouts.
Still, what we love about Sonnen is he talks a better game than anyone in the sport. And in the end, that’s really what helps get him these fights against guys like Silva.