Building the Ultimate MMA Fighter

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

Building the Ultimate MMA Fighter

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    Mixed martial arts has transformed into one of the most highly contested sports in the world.

    With countless numbers of disciplines and backgrounds, MMA incorporates an endless supply of talent, technique, skill and personality.

    But just like any other athletic entity, the cream always rises to the top.

    Whether it's natural power or blazing quickness, an iron chin or a voice for the masses, MMA's elite weapons of choice are truly a cut above the rest.

    So what if we we're able to sift through these in-cage assets in order to construct the perfect mixed martial artist?

    What would we find? Which fighter would provide what skill?

    Look no further. Here's how we would build the ultimate fighter.

     

Ronda Rousey's Learning Curve

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    First and foremost, to be a complete fighter in a sport like MMA you need to possess the ability to learn new skills quickly.

    As an occupation that's depicted by every second of every round, fighters need to know all the ins and outs of the cage before it's too late.

    UFC women's bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey is a testament to how dangerous a fighter can become on the back of a rapid learning curve.

    Through just 10 professional fights, the 27-year-old has went from a fighter who banked on her grappling skills to one of the most all-around feared athletes in the game.

    Her ability to expand her Octagon pedigree in such short time has enabled her to outstrike strikers, out-point wrestlers, secure memorable finishes and lean on other readily available tools than just her armbar.

Rory MacDonald's Confidence

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    Being confident can be a curse.

    But it can also be one of the most useful weapons inside of a cage.

    MMA tends to filter out the tentative ones and reward the self-assured. That's just the way it is in a sport that demands it's athletes to make snap decisions.

    Welterweight phenom Rory MacDonald has showcased the top-level confidence capable of one day landing him a UFC title shot.

    The fact that he has the natural ability to back it up makes him omnipotent.

    When it comes down to believing in one self, overcoming doubt and showing up the competition, "Ares" knows exactly what to do and when to do it.

     

Demetrious Johnson's Quickness

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    As the quickest fighter in the world, UFC flyweight superhero Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson is able to do things that no other fighter can.

    His appetite for precision and persistence is fueled by the ability to get in and out of positions quicker than his opponent.

    Whether it's on his feet, against the cage or on the ground, Johnson's speed has enabled him to outpoint and outmaneuver his way to four straight title defenses.

    So when other flyweights try their darndest to hit the champ, it is Johnson's angling, footwork, head movement and hand speed that always seem to ring true.

Anthony Pettis' Defense

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    People always tend to associate UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis' success to his budding offense.

    Now while his striking and submission skills have blossomed in front of our eyes, it has been the champ's defensive prowess that has made him such an established divisional threat.

    As it stands right now, through 11 fights under the Zuffa banner, the kid known as "Showtime" has never been hit more than 38 times in a single fight.

    And that career high came against former UFC and WEC champion Benson Henderson in a five-round title fight back in 2010.

    Not to mention he's never been finished, not even rocked, and he has been hit a grand total of 51 times through his five Octagon appearances (spanning nine rounds).

    That's an unbelievable rate, especially for a fighter as active and as potent as Pettis is, and a defensive tendency that our "ultimate fighter" would need to have.

Roy Nelson's Chin

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    Yes, Roy Nelson has a chin under that beard.

    And under that chin is probably, you guessed it, another beard.

    But to be completely serious, "Big Country" arguably has the best chin of all time.

    That's obviously an open-ended claim because it's difficult to measure how he would have stood up to a Fedor Emelianenko right hand, but the fact remains, Nelson is a tank.

    Blessed with a chin chiseled from granite, the heavyweight has showcased the eery ability to absorb damage as if he was eating apple pie.

    His conditioning hasn't caught up, but any fighter in the world would be lucky to possess the durability and consistency of Nelson's cranium.

Chael Sonnen's Charm

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    Sadly, today's MMA is sometimes driven by a fighter's potency on the microphone.

    It's not the sort of thing you would like to see shake up a divisional-title picture or give a guy an undeserving spot on a big card, but talking does get you somewhere in this sport.

    Chael Sonnen is the absolutely undying proof to this.

    Sure he was pretty good on the mat and was able to outpace most of the guys he met inside of the cage, but it was Sonnen's verbal assassination skills that made him into the popular figure that he is today.

    From challenging legends to earning title shots in other divisions, "The American Gangster" truly blazed his own trail.

    One that has made him a MMA pioneer when it comes to self-promotion and official call-outs.

     

     

Matt Brown's Intensity

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    When Matt Brown fights, it's like watching a ravenous dog attack a bag of potato chips.

    Something gets lost as far as logical thought is concerned, but that's because Brown is borderline crazy when he steps inside of the Octagon.

    Now while the welterweight has the hands and wresting to back up such an aggressive fight style, it sometimes goes unneeded.

    In specific cases, Brown's intensity will take over a fight. So much so that his opponents never see what eventually leaves them mangled on the canvas.

    This is a mental and physical place that our "ultimate fighter" will need to be able to go to.

    It's not always the greatest of choices, but when your back is up against the wall, foaming out of the mouth and biting down on your mouthpiece is sometimes all you can do.

Johny Hendricks' Power

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    Pound-for-pound, UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks may possess the most punching power the sport has seen since Chuck Liddell.

    Now I realize that it may be a bit of a stretch, but it's difficult to argue when all Hendricks is doing is winning fights with his hands.

    He most certainly can dominate his opponents elsewhere like on the ground, but "Bigg Rigg" has made a living out of landing his left and right fists to the chin of unsuspecting welterweights.

    Right now, he's probably the most feared power puncher in the UFC, let alone his division.

    One punch and chances are Hendricks is doing fight-ending damage.

     

Cain Velasquez's Endurance

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    It's sometimes dumbfounding to witness the sort of dominance that Cain Velasquez displays inside of the cage.

    Time and time again the UFC heavyweight champion has bewildered some of the best fighters in the world.

    He's done so by implementing the best conditioning you're ever going to see. The sort of endurance that even some welterweights would have trouble maintaining.

    In any case, Velasquez is simply in a league of his own when it comes to his cardio. With a motor built for two men, the 31-year-old will never find himself out of gas or in top position just catching his breath.

    He's always grinding and always pushing forward, which makes him one of the most fascinating big men of all time.

Jon Jones' Athleticism

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    It's scary to think that among two siblings who are NFL starters, UFC light heavyweight phenom Jon Jones is the purest athlete in his family.

    That boundless innate ability has propelled Jones to the forefront of the sport, devouring each and every top contender in the division along the way.

    From spinning elbows to front kicks, shoulder cranks to oblique kicks, the rangy 205-dynamo is capable of making any opponent look like a grocery-store worker.

    Combine all of that with the fact that Jones is only 26 and you have the biggest freak in MMA history. One that could very well ride his athletic gifts to becoming the greatest of all time.

     

     

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