Saturday, June 16, 2007

Intro to MMA part 2

In this part of my n part series, I will discuss how the three core skills: striking, wrestling, and BJJ are combined and utilized in fighting strategies.

One of the most popular strategies is Ground and Pound. Successful Ground and Pound(GNP) fighters combine average to above average striking with very good wrestling. The goal of a GNP strategy is to score a takedown against another fighter and acquire a dominant position so that they may beat on their opponent with near impunity while on the ground. Many times these fighters are a liability while standing and need to score a takedown as soon as possible in order to stand a chance The ref will stop the bout when the opponent is no longer able to defend himself.

A fighter who relies on his striking may employ a Sprawl and Brawl approach. These fighters do best while on their feet and are typically a liability while on the ground. They defend against takedowns through use of a sprawl. If they do get taken down they will try to stand up at every opportunity although the less skilled fighters wind up just trying to survive until the end of the round. Typically they will only go to the ground willingly to finish off a dazed opponent.

The other popular style doesn't have a nice rhyming name, so I'll just call it the Submission Strategy. As noted in my previous post on the subject, it is no longer enough to have mastered BJJ if you want to be successful. BJJ specialists train in a striking technique such as kickboxing so that they can compete effectively. The approaches of fighters can vary, but usually they will try to strike with their opponent if they think they have an advantage, and if they don't they will go for a takedown and try to secure a submission.

These styles have a rock-paper-scissors style relationship. All things being equal, a GNP has an advantage over a Sprawl and Brawler, a Submission Artist has an advantage over a GNP, and a Sprawl and Brawler has an advantage over a Submission artist.

Unless a Sprawl and Brawler has really good takedown defense or they knock out their opponent early, the fight will go to the ground and the GNP figther will have a chance to do serious damage.

A Submission Artist is very comfortable fighting on the ground and is always looking for an unprotected arm or neck so he can set up a submission. A GNP fighter is forced to fight on the ground and must be very careful about how he positions himself because if he leaves his arm exposed he can lose the fight in a second.

A Sprawl and Brawler has superior striking skills to a Submission Artist, and while Submission Artists can attempt takedowns, they usually aren't as skilled at takedowns as someone with a wrestling background. The Sprawler has a good chance of keeping the fight off the ground where they have a big advantage.

No discussion of MMA strategy is complete without mentioning Lay and Pray. Lay and Pray is a pejorative term for a fighter who wins fights by taking their opponent down, laying on top of him, and "praying" for a decision. No fighter would ever call himself a Lay and Pray fighter, they would probably consider themselves GNP fighters, but they don't have the skills to effectively strike their opponent while on the ground. Their only real hope is against a Sprawl and Brawler.

That's it for this time. Join me next time when I give an overview of the relevant fighters in one of the UFC's divisions.

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