MMA: Why Wrestling Is the Best Base for Fighters

Jordy McElroy@https://twitter.com/JordyMcElroyCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2011

LAS VEGAS - JUNE 15:  Ben Askren (blue) wrestles Tyrone Lewis (red) in the Freestyle 74kg division championship match during the USA Olympic trials for wrestling and judo on June 15, 2008 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Neveda.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The long debate throughout the history of MMA is: Which base is best for the sport?

In the early 90s, most would've sided with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie amazed fans all over the world with his impeccable technique and ability to defeat men twice his size.

His dominance inspired the opening of new BJJ gyms and growth of old ones.

The rapid evolution the sport has undergone since those days is fascinating. While BJJ remains one of the most important aspects of fighting, wrestling has emerged as the best base for MMA.

Why not BJJ?

What about boxing? Doesn't every fight start on the feet?

Every fight may start on the feet, but the wrestler decides if the fight stays standing.

For years, UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell made a name off his world-class striking, but people tend to forget that he was a former NCAA Division I wrestler at California Polytechnic State University. His background in wrestling helped him keep fights standing against elite-level grapplers.

As for BJJ, you could look recently at great submission artists Shinya Aoki and George Sotiropoulos. While Aoki lost handily to Gilbert Melendez in April 2010, Sotiropoulos was defeated by Dennis Siver in February.

What did both of these fighters have in common?

Despite spectacular BJJ skills, neither fighter had the wrestling ability to get the fight to the ground. Instead, both were forced to stand against better strikers.

Wrestlers dictate where the fight goes.

If you're the better striker, the wrestler can put you on your back. If you have great submission holds, the wrestler can keep the fight standing. Against a better wrestler, you will always be forced to fight his or her fight.

This is also one of the reasons why wrestling is a great tool for up-and-comers. It allows them to keep the fight where they're most comfortable.

When considering the best base for MMA, judging has to also be taken into consideration. Judges tend to favor the fighter on top, which has caused some controversy in decisions over the years.

The sport hasn't evolved to the point where judges have developed a sense for ground work. In the minds of some judges, the winning fighter is generally the one who spent the most time on top, which usually turns out to be the wrestler.

Wrestlers are some of the most hard-working and well-conditioned athletes in the world. The grueling training regimen these guys endure on a consistent basis gives them an upper hand in understanding the kind of work it takes to become a successful MMA fighter.

They are already familiar with various phases of training, including circuit training, high-intensity interval training and plyometrics.

The vast majority of them also have a firm understanding of dieting and weight cutting.

In the end, every aspect of MMA is just as important as the next.

Greatness can only be achieved though a combination of skills, but if you have dreams of making it big in the world of MMA, you should probably hit the wrestling mat first.

(SportsHaze.com Original)

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