1/08/2012 9:41pm, #1
Let's really explore the dominant arts of MMA
Let us first read this article, specifically what I have put in bold print:
(Guest editorial by Ryan McKinnell)
It took former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar only four fights as a professional to achieve the pinnacle of his sport.
And it took only four more to derail one of the most promising careers in MMA history.
The end for Brock Lesnar officially came Friday night at UFC 141, when he ran into MMA’s heavyweight version of Ivan Drago… “The Demolition Man,” Alistair Overeem.
Truthfully though, Lesnar’s demise began long ago.
It was first at UFC 121 when the world saw Lesnar’s true distaste for MMA. It wasn’t that he couldn’t beat world-class fighters; he obviously could, as shown by his destruction of perennial Top 10 fighters Randy Couture, Frank Mir, and Shane Carwin, respectively.
But that night at UFC 121, his opponent, Cain Velasquez, showed the world that Brock Lesnar lacked the most fundamental ability to becoming a long-term world champion in the sport of professional fighting; you had to be able to take a punch.
For Lesnar, it wasn’t even a matter of being able to take a punch. It was a matter of absolutely despising getting punched. Not only couldn’t Lesnar take a punch, whenever he did get hit, he seemed like a wounded deer limping down range, as his camouflaged counterpart swooped in for the kill.
After the knockout loss to Velasquez, that left Lesnar looking like a discombobulated amateur, reports flooded in from Lesnar’s camp that the former champion didn’t let his sparring partners use full-contact drills when training for his title fight.
Essentially, the heavyweight champion of the world’s greatest fighting organization, trained for the biggest fight of his career without getting hit… allegedly.
So when Alistair Overeem ended their fight and Lesnar’s MMA career at UFC 141, for many it wasn’t a surprise. Overeem stalked Lesnar, popped him with a few jabs, sprawled a few takedown attempts, and ended the fight with a devastating liver kick, which left Lesnar turtling up with an excruciating grimace across his face.
It was painfully obvious to all who watched that Lesnar couldn’t hang with the new age mixed martial artist. But here’s the thing, in a certain place in time, Lesnar could have been one of the true legends of the sport.
Think about it. MMA’s history is so short-lived and brief that the eras of each given fighting style can be broken into four- to six-year periods, respectively.
The first wave came from 1993-1997. That was the era of the jiu-jitsu fighter. Men like Royce Gracie left the fighting world, and more specifically top-tier wrestlers, scrambling to gain any knowledge of the enigmatic art that was shrouded with so much mystery. Never before had the world seen a fighting style that was so unassuming, both in its approach to fighting and the combatants who used it. Gracie – who was no more than 165 pounds soaking wet – won three of the first four inaugural UFC tournaments, becoming an MMA legend in the process.
Around 1997, wrestlers started catching up to the jiu-jitsu game. Men like Mark Kerr, Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson, Tom Erikson, and Randy Couture dominated the MMA landscape. So from 1997-2002, you had the era of the wrestler.
From 2002-2006, you had the era of the striker. Fighters like Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Takanori Gomi, and the Rua Brothers ran roughshod over their respective divisions. Having caught up to the arts of wrestling and jiu-jitsu, these stand-up fighters were allowed to dictate where their fights would go, and in the process had free reign to showcase their world-class striking prowess. The Pride organization in Japan, where Silva, Gomi, and the Rua’s fought, was especially exciting because they allowed kicks to a downed opponent (soccer kicking), as well as knees – a most nostalgic time indeed.
That brings us to present day. From 2006-present, we are living in the era of the complete mixed martial artist. Men like Jon Jones, Junior dos Santos, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, Nick Diaz, and Gilbert Melendez reign supreme over the MMA world. With their collection of skills and devastating all-around pedigree’s, this new wave of mixed martial artist is what we dreamed about only years ago.
And herein lies Brock Lesnar’s dilemma. He was the product, or more correctly, a proverbial “slave” to his time.
If Brock Lesnar emerged in that era from 1997-2002, not only would he become a dominant champion, he likely would go down as one of the greatest heavyweights of any generation. With his freakish athletic ability and all-world wrestling credentials, Lesnar would have dominated his foes on God-given ability alone. Essentially, he proved as much with his previous performances in the UFC.
Unfortunately for the former NCAA National Champion, one-time NFL roster invite, WWE superstar, and former UFC heavyweight champion, he arrived in an era where his time had passed.
What Lesnar accomplished in his time as a professional fighter is nothing short of spectacular. He attained the pinnacle of his sport in a time when most are still toiling in bingo halls, 4-H fairgrounds, and muddy parking lots across the United States. He beat some of the top fighters in the world on a relatively brief period of training.
If it weren’t for his ability, or lack there-of, to take a punch, Lesnar would still be fighting today.
As UFC president Dana White reiterated at the UFC 141 press conference, “This isn’t some sport where you go and hit a ball with a stick. This is the real deal. This is fighting.”
There is no doubt Brock Lesnar is a fighter in the game of life. Ask the 12 inches of colon he had removed in May if Brock Lesnar is a tough S.O.B.
Ask Randy Couture, Heath Herring, Frank Mir, and Shane Carwin if Brock Lesnar is a true “fighter.”
But in the UFC, it’s not about whether you can fight or not, it’s about whether you can be the best in the world. And at UFC 141, Brock Lesnar found out he couldn’t be, so he stepped aside.
And for that, I applaud him. And so should you.
It's good to see the words I've been saying for nearly a decade formulated in the mind of another person. Whether we agree or disagree where we should start, it should go without saying that you need to cross all these bridges if you want to be successful in MMA. Yet still a month doesn't go by where I hear from someone about how one style is better than another style. That it's jiu jitsu that rules the MMA ring, or that Muay Thai fighting is the best in MMA, or it's all about the wrestling.
In truth its about the ability to put it all together. Would GSP be so successful in his wrestling if his striking wasn't as solid as it is? So many fighters are fearful of Nick Diaz's guard that now they are forced to stay standing with him only to be hit at every angle possible from his boxing skills.
As a matter of fact does that mean we're in the age of boxing? GSP jabbing of Koshchek's eye? It wasn't more than 3 years before that I heard an MMA coach tell his fighters that the jab was useless in the cage. Frankie Edgar anybody? Junior Dos Santos? The Diaz brothers?
There was hope with Lyoto Machida that karate might be around the bend. Anybody had hopes on Cung Le? I'm holding my breath for tai chi.
1/08/2012 11:54pm, #2
The evolution of the MMA sport is a beautiful thing. What honestly grinds my gears are those that often talk about how the rules are geared towards 'X' style.
Infact it shits me to tears.
And it screams to me that these people obviously don't keep up with the sport and how it has evolved.
1/09/2012 1:17am, #3
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Granted there will always be some who use a bare minimum of styles, a few even to high degrees of success, but the majority will keep drawing on as many techniques as they feel can work. Just look at Jon Jones, every fight he's got something new and he's barely getting started.
1/09/2012 2:59am, #4
I'm a little bit critical of the teleology of MMA the article presents, wherein the sport is broken down into a series of phases in which - lucky for us! - we happen to have just reached the pinnacle. Reminds me of Hegel and his bullshit.
The sport has definitely evolved rapidly in the past decades, but I think we're still in for a lot more evolution as time goes on.The fool thinks himself immortal,
If he hold back from battle;
But old age will grant him no truce,
Even if spears spare him.
1/09/2012 7:15am, #5
It's not that we've reached the pinnacle, just that it was inevitable that we'd end up here. From this point onward, the success of fighters who are overwhelmingly good in one discipline and deficient in the others is an anomaly. The talent will continue to evolve, and I'm sure over time there will be micro-eras of particularly successful or popular tactics, but the Jiujitsu-Wrestling-Striking phases were MMAs maturation.
It wasn't the only way it could have happened; even without a dominant era of wrestlers, someone would have found out sooner or later that if you trained to keep the fight from going to the ground, you could win over others who were not similarly skilled in the standup.
One thing not addressed is why the era of striking ended. I didn't expect to see it in the article, since it is more about showing the eras rather than explaining them but on paper, having great takedown defense and striking should still be sufficient. I suspect that the real key to this era is not simply having all the tools but being able to transition between them with ease.
1/09/2012 9:41am, #6
One thing we are good at is identifying the sport we are playing, and then obsessing about it to the point of micromanaging every aspect of it. That is what we are entering into now. No longer are high level MMA fighters even looking at it as a martial art. It is a sport to the smallest degree. So, these fighters are moving into the arena where their diets, fitness, and skill training is being managed more and more effectively.
This allows the fighter to rise above having his own art that he has to be true to. They don't have to be a ground fighter to prove that it is better. Or a striker to prove that it is better. They can take both and use them. Free to look at other aspects. Like ring strategy. Using the cage as another technique for sweeps and submissions.
To me, the only problem with it, is that it is becoming a more generic version of what it was. It is streamlined and will become even more so. I liked seeing style vs. style. That was cool. It was fun to watch people who had trained with blinders on and ignorant to other styles, get in the ring and blasted by others.
1/09/2012 10:35am, #7
1/09/2012 11:56am, #8
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- Omaha, NE (orig from Boston area)
From 2002-2006, you had the era of the striker. Fighters like Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Takanori Gomi, and the Rua Brothers ran roughshod over their respective divisions. Having caught up to the arts of wrestling and jiu-jitsu, these stand-up fighters were allowed to dictate where their fights would go,
The guy makes it sound like Chuck, Wandy and the brothers' Rua didn't use any wrestling or BJJ. They just used it defensively (especially Chuck) to avoid or escape any ground fighting. How much of that has to do with the individual fighters that dominated vs some "era" ?
At least this guy isn't some TUF noob who thinks MMA began with Griffen vs Bonner
1/09/2012 3:11pm, #9
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- Oct 2008
- Sherburne NY
I disagree that we are in the "era of the complete fighter"
I'd say we are on the edge of an era of the "complete athlete" such as has been the norm in other sports (ie football, basketball, baseball) where we have grown used to seeing generational training and development, seed programs, farm leagues, and the "athlete as product" system of advanced training.
1/09/2012 3:32pm, #10