The Sport of MMA means Mixed Martial Arts. A lot of fighters have come from different backgrounds where they specialize in. The most famous one in the entry for the UFC was the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, most famously used by Royce Gracie.
When Royce Gracie joined the first-ever UFC tournament, where he won all three fights that night. Gracie was shown to smaller and less muscle-oriented compared to the other competitors but he showed their technique can even beat people that oversize them.
After a great showing off their martial arts, Gracie then went on to win the next UFC tournament. The Gracies showed martial arts that evolved the sport with a giant leap. Fighters now need to learn BJJ in order to submit their opponents or avoid getting submitted as well.
In today’s game where the sport has evolved, there are a lot of martial arts needed to be mixed in order to be the champion. The fighter needs to be well-rounded, where he needs to learn to strike, wrestle, and grapple.
But what martial art base has shown to be the most successful in today’s game? A lot of fighters came from Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling, Sambo, and even BJJ but if we base off today’s champions and former champions, wrestling is usually the most important.
A lot of fighters who had high-level wrestling were champions. Why? Because a high-level wrestler can choose to strike or change levels whenever he wants, provided his opponent has little to no background in wrestling.
The GOAT Contenders in the Modern UFC, have a great wrestling background. Jon Jones is known to have great wrestling with superb takedown defense. Even an Olympic wrestler, Daniel Cormier had a difficult time taking him down.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, although was a Combat Sambo specialist had a similar style of a wrestler. He has not lost inside the ring due to his high-level wrestling. All his opponents know his gameplan prior and could prepare but at the end of the day have no answer, they still get taken down and mauled by Khabib. Shows that he is levels above his competition.
One fighter that many consider also one of the greatest is George St Pierre. During his rise, he was known as a high-level striker with a karate background but in order to be dominant, he added wrestling to his arsenals. In the latter part of his career, he had one of the best takedowns in the game. One of the reasons he was so dominant was his striking mixed with great takedowns.
Even though Wrestling may be the best base in MMA, there are still a lot of successful fighters that have not come from wrestling. Israel Adesanya is a kickboxing specialist but eventually became a middleweight champion, to his credit he has good takedown defense shown in the Brunson and Gastelum fight.
At the end of the day, it is all about the fighter on how he adapts to the sport and his opponents. Maybe in the next era, there will another martial art that could change the game even more who knows.