BJ Penn and Six UFC Champions Who Set the Blueprint for Defeating Wrestlers
Just last week at UFC 130, we saw the importance of using wrestling skills in winning a fight and using proper wrestling defense to avoid losing.
The former was highlighted during the title-eliminator match between Clay Guida and Anthony Pettis, while the latter was showcased in the main event matchup between Rampage Jackson and Matt Hamill.
Guida managed to earn a unanimous decision against upcoming star "Showtime" Pettis by utilizing his wrestling in controlling where the fight happens and holding it there for the majority of the fight, spoiling Pettis' title bid in the process.
Meanwhile, Jackson, who also won his main-event fight, showed great counter-wrestling ability in his fight with Hamill. Jackson gave the former wrestling champion no chance of taking the fight to the ground.
The two fights set different talks in MMA forums, with some criticizing the way wrestling was used to win and some praising the way wrestling was avoided to notch a victory.
But even before these fights have occurred, wrestling has already been the talk of the fighting community. Some say that the skill is the key factor in winning championships, as four of UFC's six current champions utilize the skill well in winning. UFC analyst and commentator Joe Rogan has even been heard saying that the skill is the most important foundation in mixed martial arts.
However, there are many who are criticizing fighters who are taking advantage of their wrestling skills to win matches, as most of them are considered "boring" fights (e.g. John Fitch). Some of those who criticize are even fighters themselves (e.g. Dan Hardy) who are denied of winning a title.
Nonetheless, there are fighters who let their skills do the talking and won against wrestlers by using superb skills. They have shown what a champion is made of and that one skill is not enough to beat them.
Here is my list of former and current UFC champions who set the blueprint in defeating wrestlers.
Loyoto Machida: Make Proper Use of the Distance
UFC 98: Rashad Evans was expected to use more of his wrestling than his overrated striking in his title defense match against Loyoto Machida, a fighter whose strength lies in his striking.
Instead, Evans found himself puzzled with Machida's karate-style of fighting, in which distance is fully utilized, and was left wondering how he can control the almost-untouchable karate champion.
Matt Serra: Shock the World—Quickly
UFC 69: No one expected Matt Serra to land a good fight with then current reigning champion Georges St. Pierre, and if you had predicted that Serra will beat St. Pierre inside the distance, you might had been dubbed as "crazy".
But as if he is the "Nostradamus" of MMA, "the Terror" Serra remained true to his word and knocked out "Rush" St. Pierre in the first round, staging one of the biggest upset in MMA history.
BJ Penn: Find Your Balance
Ask any fighter (not named Georges St. Pierre) who has fought BJ Penn how hard it is to take down this kid from Hawaii and you might get the same response.
Of course, we all know that St. Pierre took him down a couple of times in their rematch and Frankie Edgar discovered the proper timing in dealing with BJ's balance after their first fight, but if you have seen BJ's first fight with those two, you'll be amazed with his counter-wrestling skills.
BJ also used the skills in defeating wrestlers like Matt Hughes, Diego Sanchez, and Sean Sherk in title fights by making them stand with him.
Frank Mir: Find the Wrestler's Weakest Armor
Lesnar was pounding his way to a victory during that fight, but a single mistake caused him to lose against Mir. Lesnar was on his way up when the Jiu-Jitsu ace got a hold of his knee and submitted him by a knee bar.
Chuck Lidell: Learn to Sprawl
Lidell's sprawl is legendary. Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, and Kevin Randleman can attest to this fact, as they all found a hard time planting the "Iceman" to the ground.
The great thing about Lidell's style is he punishes opponents after failing to take him down.
Anderson Silva: Use the Triangle Choke
Who can forget Silva's come from behind victory against Chael Sonnen?
The "Spider" was being punished by Sonnen for four rounds, but remained calm and waited for the opportunity to land the triangle choke.
Royce Gracie: Have a Good Guard Defense
Off course, this list will not be completed without Royce Gracie. The Jiu-jiutsu black belt showed the world how to win against wrestlers twice his size.
From his victory against Dan Severn to his wining effort against Ken Shamrock, he has managed to prove that proper technique will overcome strength.