MMA 101 The fundamental basics of combat sports

MMA 101 The fundamental basics of combat sports

If you have never watched a Mixed Martial Arts fight before and somehow find yourself out with a group of friends watching the latest light-heavyweight title fight, you may find yourself a bit confused with whats really going on. To the uneducated lay-man with limited MMA knowledge, it might just look like two grown men, locked in a cage, beating the living day-lights out of one another, thats ok, we get it. Not everyone understands the skillsets that comprise a well-rounded MMA fighter in todays competitive fight leagues.

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The reality is that to be a professional MMA fighter requires hours and hours of training in three different areas of martial arts and the correct equipment. In an MMA fight, there are three core engagement points where the fighters pit their skills against each other. The first is on their feet, the second is against the cage siding and the third is on the mats. For each of these fight dynamics, there is a style of martial arts to train to become efficient and effective with it. Lets take a look at these three areas an examine the most effective techniques being used by the worlds top fighters.


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The stand-up game is what everyone is used to seeing in a fight. Since the beginning of recorded history, men have squared off with one another and traded punches and kicks to inflict damage on their opponents and either knock them out, known as a KO, or injure them so badly they are unable to continue (TKO, or Technical Knock Out) this is the primary goal in a striking war and in a MMA fight, this is the most common starting engagement point for the fighters as they move out of their corners and begin to figure each others timing out.

When it comes to striking martial arts, the undisputed king of the realm is Muay Thai kick-boxing. Muay Thai uses punches, kicks, as well as elbows, knees and takedown throws in its stand up style of martial arts. It has been proven in combat sports and in fight leagues all over the globe as the most effective style of striking. Todays top MMA fighters use training camps run by Muay Thai legends to improve their striking skills. A great example of this is Duke Roufus and his gym, Roufusport. Duke is a championship winning kick-boxer himself and understands the technicalities of striking and put them to the test inside the ring himself. Today Duke trains top contenders and champions in major fight leagues in the skillset of Muay Thai kick boxing as applied to MMA fighting.

Grappling, or Greco-Roman style wrestling

Sooner or later, one of the fighters will end up tying up with the other in what is termed a clinch usually this occurs when one of the fighters is incurring to much damage from striking and decides to close the distance to use close-quarters techniques to choke or submit and opponent. Short range striking using the elbows and knees is also common but the majority of the work is done using a wrestling technique developed for stand up fighting, Greco-Roman wrestling. This style of wrestling involves you pinning your opponent against the wall of cage and then trying to exert physical dominance over them by controlling the weight and balance while positioning yourself to either choke them out, take them down to the mats, or inflict devastating blows like hard elbows or knees, while manipulating control of their joints and limbs using locks and holds.

Ground Game

Eventually, unless a KO is involved, fighters will end up on the ground and this is where things get interesting. There are only two real fighting styles that are effective on the floor. The first is a hybrid of wrestling, not the WWE pro-wrestling you see on TV, but the wrestling thats done on college campuses and high-schools all across the country. Wrestling involves using your opponents weight and balance against them in an effort to get them to the ground and submit them, or pin them. It is a very intensely physical sport and it was modified by MMA professionals to include striking on the floor, which has been termed, Ground and pound. While wrestling is effective, the absolute king of combat sports on the ground is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. BJJ, as it is known, was developed by the Gracie family in Brazil. Helio Gracie spent years in Japan studying traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and then brought his knowledge back to his native Brazil where he modified it to a style of fighting on the ground involving joint locks and manipulations, chokes and submission moves where the opponent is forced to tap out or risk having a limb broken.

Now you understand the basics of an MMA fight, so the next time you find yourself watching two gladiators face off against tone another in the cage, you will understand what it means when Joe Rogan yells out, Oh my goodness! He's mounted him and hes looking to finish! Good luck in your MMA adventures!


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