As mixed martial arts grows as a sport, so does the skill level of the fighters that dominate it. Long gone are the days when a fighter can dominate without being well-rounded.
The top fighters in the world are ones that can keep the fight in the realm in which they have the advantage, whether it be through takedowns or takedown defense. Perhaps the best example of that is UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre.
The top of the rankings are filled with well-rounded fighters with strong wrestling in every weight class—Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Yushin Okami, Chael Sonnen, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Chad Mendes, Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber. And those that aren’t strong wrestlers have strong elements of grappling in their game, whether it be takedown defense or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
It’s very rare to see fighters that aren’t well-rounded succeed in MMA. Shinya Aoki is probably the only example of someone who can compete at a high level with a very limited skill set, but the beating he received at the hands of Gilbert Melendez shows that it’s unwise to take that path.
While Nick Diaz is a top welterweight, he is a huge underdog to GSP in their upcoming bout because of his lack of wrestling. Perhaps his recent success can be attributed to the fact that he hasn't fought a strong wrestler in quite some time.
Either way, wrestling is often an element lacking in many mixed martial artists, but its importance was on display at the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson event.