Columbus Day: Celebrating 8 Great Discoveries in UFC History

Matt Saccaro@@mattsaccaroContributor IIIOctober 10, 2011

Columbus Day: Celebrating 8 Great Discoveries in UFC History

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    The state of mixed martial arts wasn't always like it is now. Various techniques and axioms had to be discovered (usually the hard way) for the sport and the company to grow into the behemoth it is in the modern day.

    In honor of celebrating Columbus's "discovery" (quotes because he didn't really discover it, but this isn't a history website so there'll be no more discussion of that) of the new world, the "discovery" of varying aspects of MMA will also be celebrated.

    So what exactly was "discovered"? Read and find out!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/Grappling

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    The Gracie family is the perfect group of people to celebrate on Columbus day, because what they did is analogous to what he did—popularize something (grappling in the case of the Gracies) that had been around for quite some time already.

    Grappling wasn't exactly popular in the United States in the early 90s, and Rorion Gracie saw this as a good thing—Gracie Jiu-Jitsu wouldn't have much competition.

    He eventually founded the UFC with Art Davie and Bob Meyrowitz in order to showcase his family's art. Overnight, Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu became the next big thing, and martial artists across the country (and even the world) began to seek out training in the art.

    Even though the Gracies didn't invent grappling, they showed it to the unwashed masses of the striking world and began a martial arts revolution.


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    Dan Severn didn't discover wrestling, and he never claimed to.

    However, it was Dan Severn's presence and success in the early UFC events that lead to the martial arts world discovering that wrestling was actually an amazing (and perhaps even the best) base on which to build a martial arts foundation.

    Severn effortlessly took down all of his opponents that didn't also know wrestling, and had Royce Gracie "on the ropes" at UFC 4 until getting caught in a triangle choke late in the fight.

    Nevertheless, the success of wrestlers in the UFC and MMA in general was pioneered by Dan Severn.

Foot Stomps and Leg Kicks

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    Foot stomps and leg kicks were shown to be very effective techniques by "The King of the Streets" Marco Ruas. These techniques were never seen in the Octagon before Ruas did them (although leg kicks had been in Muay Thai for quite some time).

    The Brazilian employed crushing foot stomps when grappling with the much larger "Polar Bear" Paul Varelans at UFC 7, and used vicious leg kicks to chop the taller fighter down en route to a TKO via dozens of kicks to the leg.

    So important were these moves that they have become staples in modern MMA.


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    Before people practiced "mixed martial arts," they "cross-trained." Cross-training was the term used in the early-mid 90s to denote a fighter that trained in more than one discipline.

    Did any one fighter "discover" this?

    No but there were a few pioneers in the very early days who knew how to strike and grapple such as Don Frye, Marco Ruas, Tank Abbott (aside from being a "pit-fighter" he had a background in wrestling) and others.

The Liver Shot

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    The liver shot was never prevalent in MMA until Bas Rutten entered the sport.

    He made the liver shot a trademark move, and the Dutchman once famously ruptured the liver of UFC veteran Jason Delucia in a Pancrase event with a series of devastating strikes throughout the fight.

    Like with all of these, the fighters didn't discover these moves in the sense that they "invented" them, they just popularized them and/or showed people that they could be done in MMA.

The Thai Clinch

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    The Muay Thai clinch (or just the Thai clinch, sometimes called the Thai plum) wasn't used as much in the UFC until a relatively unknown fighter by the name of Anderson Silva managed to TKO then middleweight champion Rich Franklin in devastating fashion with it. Franklin's nose was practically on the other side of his face!

    Silva made the Thai clinch a move that all fighters must know how to use and, more importantly, how to counter and escape.

The Jab

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    The jab was and is an age-old boxing fundamental, but its true effectiveness in the Octagon wasn't seen until former lightweight champion B.J. Penn used it to frustrate many of his opponents, who didn't have an answer for one of boxing's most basic moves.

    More recently, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre used it to shatter the orbital bone of Josh Koscheck, and keep him at bay for the duration of their 25 minute contest.

Rubber Guard

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    Even though some claim that 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo didn't invent the rubber guard, and that it was actually Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Antonio "Nino" Schembri, none can deny that Bravo has popularized it more than anyone else. 

    UFC commentator Joe Rogan is also an advocate of Bravo's system.

    The rubber guard has become a widely used technique in both BJJ and MMA. It provides fighters with an ability to neutralize an opponent in the guard, while allowing you to strike him and attempt many crafty submission setups.

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