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How Much Can MMA Evolve?


Came across this video of Rogan talking about Fedor. While I do agree with some of the stuff he says, I disagree that the next generation of fighters will necessarily be that much better. Obviously today's fighters are much more well-rounded than the first generation such as Royce, etc.

However, I see MMA as having a relatively steep curve when it comes to its evolution. Most of the top fighters today are also professional fighters who dedicate their time to training for the sport of mma. In the earlier days, guys had other jobs and mma wasn't a profession like it is now.

I will also say today's fighters have better access and knowledge of strength and conditioning, nutrition and such. But I disagree with the claims that the sport will continue to evolve at such a high pace. The arts and styles that make up mma have been around for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years.

Guys will always tweak some techniques and adapt others for the sport, but unless there are radical rule changes, I don't see there being sweeping changes in mma. MMA is still made up of striking, wrestling and grappling and those three can only be used in so many different ways. A complete fighter like GSP is not going to have the game pass him by anytime soon.

What are your guys' thoughts?


I think a good bit of this is simply Joe Rogan being a mouthpiece for hyping UFC and the next fight. I fully concede that MMA has advanced as a sport and that a more diverse skill set is required now than it was in the late 90's, but that is just about all I concede.

On what planet is MMA ever going to evolve past someone like Fedor doing well? He was fast for his size, strong, good cardio, and has a tremendous chin. His skill set allowed him to hang with Big Nog on the ground and Mirko on the feet. He is a very good grappler who hits very hard and can take big shots without flinching. He just got old. If he would have retired after the Rogers fight (supposed to be Barnett) he would be the Rocky Marciano of MMA.

Listening to Joe Rogan I would know that neither Brock Lesnar nor Jake Shields will ever have any success in MMA until they improve their lackluster stand up. Oh...wait.


There'll be someone better coordinated than Anderson Silva and Jones down the road. That person will have GSP's work ethic, intelligence in the cage and out, and Deigo Sanchez's heart.

I think it still has ways to go. Striking in general is horrendous, even on the highest levels of the game. Few guys are able to blend their striking with standup grappling the way Georges, Jones and Lyoto do. The ground game is pretty high level though. Every other dude in the UFC seems to be a BJJ BB, but only a handful have anything approaching 'good' striking.

Those are the two areas I think we'll see evolve in the next few years.


Well said.

I disagree with you about Fedor though. His grappling wasn't as technically sound as dudes like Nog, and he's weak off his back. His boxing ability isn't pretty and I'd suspect (cos I don't know shit about striking compared to guys here) technically flawed, but worked well in his time. And of course, he had (has) tremendous power, KO and otherwise. Fedor was a bit of an perfect storm, but he wasn't the end all be all of MMA in his prime. I personally think both GSP and Silva are closer to this.


Oh, I actually agree with you on Fedor not being the pinacle of technique. The thing is that he was competent and powerful. He subbed people of his back, even though he took shots doing it, and he hit hard enough that even better boxers and kick boxers had to respect his strikes. My point is that someone with the physical attributes and ugly, but serviceable skill of Fedor will always do well. Maybe not put together a 26 fight win streak, but well none the less.

GSP and Anderson Silva are fantastic examples of technique and attributes coming together.


I think one thing that has the capacity to "evolve" mma would be if it was ever brought into the Olympics at an amateur level.

Then you'd have the best naturally talented kids in the world training and competing at a high level before even turning pro.


I think we will see it's peak development very soon.

Much like boxing, the game won't evolve that much. Everyone is talking about this next generation as if it's going to be full of little Anderson Silvas and GSPs all over the place just because they are training the game earlier, but I seriously doubt it. 20 years down the track we'll still run the gamut of mediocre fighters, fighters who are great, and one or two legends cropping up every few years.

Training from a young age =/= instant champions or people who change the face of the game. There are plenty of guys in boxing/kickboxing who never made it to an elite level despite training from a very young age, just like there are guys who took their respective divisions by storm and only started training at a relatively late age (say 18-20).


I'm not a Rogan fan, but he was spot on with every word he said.


I think that if MMA becomes an Olympic and NCAA sport you will see a level of technique that will make GSP look like a Marquess-of-Queensberry era boxer. A golden gloves boxer will destroy most MMA fighters at pure standup. An NCAA champion or Olympic wrestler will out-wrestle most MMA fighters, to the point that they can win an MMA fight mostly with their wrestling skills (see: Lesnar, Liddell, Couture, et al).

The amateur environment, coaching, and culture all change when there is a large, competitive amateur base. Right now you've got a lot of gyms full of posers, bullshido artists, hucksters, and wannabes. They'll even hold events like "Kong of the Kage 47!!!11eleventy1!" down at the local VFW hall. But they're not serious fighters, from a skill or dedication point of view. Your average high school wrestler would look at most of them, see their diet and training plan, and laugh his ass off. Have you been to a low-level amateur MMA fight? Most of the fighters come in at whatever their natural (chubby) weight is, don't keep their hands up, can't stuff a takedown, and panic the moment they hit their back. Now go to an amateur boxing match. Even the 10 year olds fight with good technique.

My (as usual, rambling) point is that we don't know how good MMA can get, because we haven't created the environment where it can get there yet, but it can damn sure get better than it is. Until there is a broad base of qualified trainers, instructing serious students preparing for serious competition, we won't know exactly how good it can be.


good points here...

i think when i look at a lot of the top guys, most of them are not truly well-rounded. granted. they're not "weak" in one area, they are usually exceptional good in other areas. this allows them to either capitolize on their strength, or evens up their weakness. look at some fo the great BJJ guys who people are afraid to go to the ground with, and this allows them to throw wild pucnhes that KO guys....

i think overally, we'll see an increase in true athletes coming to the sport, but i don't think the level of technique will change that much


I think in many ways the direction is clear...

The level of in the individual MAs in MMA at the highest level isn't anywhere near the highest level of the individual MAs at their highest level. I don't think they ever will be, but I think the gap will close. I think even more significantly you'll get more top-level athletes, and athleticism in general will become a larger driver (it's already a large factor, and always has been, but for so long people were in denial about it and the sport wasn't attracting high-level athletes).

In ten years guys like Fedor and BJ Penn will have to train the athletic/conditioning-end the way guys like GSP do to be competitive. Guys like Roy Nelson will be a thing of the past, even in the HW divisions that level of athleticism won't survive.

In many ways I think what's left for MMA is "generic" high-level sports growth, where the athletes start training like elite athletes and not pretending that jump rope, running and skill-work will be enough.

I really hope the unified rules get fixed, because that will really drive the direction of the sport. Under the current rule set it's possible that we'll never see world-class striking in MMA simply because you don't need it: the rules as they stand favor the ground game.


I agree with this.

You will NEVER see world class strikers anywhere near MMA because the rules aren't conducive. If you're going to spend all that time learning world class striking, you're going to go to boxing and earn world class money doing it and not worry about that other bullshit.

MMA athletes will get more and more athletic, I agree, but striking isn't going to evolve much further without rule changes. And even then, it will only "evolve" as far as boxing has because boxing is the pinnacle of using your hands.

There's still a lot to be done with BJJ, because there's so many more moves and all that, but really I think you see what you're going to be looking at as far as MMA goes, barring any rule changes that do change the direction of the sport.

When it comes down to it, there's really only time and energy to learn one thing very well- to own it- and then come to understand other disciplines as well. But you can't be incredible at everything- there's just not the time or the energy available.

Maybe one guy will be able to, or a couple, and they will be the Sugar Ray Robinsons and Joe Louis' of your sport. But it won't happen often.


Yes, I don't see striking in MMA ever surpassing striking in a striking-only counterpart. I see that as a limiting upper-end. On the other hand boxing in MMA is different is different that boxing in kick-boxing is different that boxing in straight-up boxing. And I don't just mean it's worse, it also serves a different function.

I think a big game changer is getting rid of the three-point rule, and the 12-6 rule. To be able to knee someone in the head while they shoot is huge. To be able to elbow straight down onto a opponent while they try and take you down is big (maybe not huge). And the ability for a striker to be allowed to strike a downed opponent effectively while standing is huge.


Short Answer: Rogan is talking to hype the current crop of fighters and cannot possibly believe what he is saying.

Long Answer:

If the purses in MMA rise, then so will the average athletic potential of the fighters. I am not disagreeing. With boxing there is more money to be made than with MMA so it seems that the best boxers will stay prizefighters. With other disciplines, maybe not. I also think this will be most noticeable at the lowest levels of the sport, not the highest. We already have world class strikers and grapplers fighting in the major promotions. I think Devil Dog Jim hit the nail on the head when he spoke about the abysmal quality of most local shows. MMA should soon hit a point that no one with 3 fights looks as sloppy as they often do today. The point about Condit dominating the first couple UFC's, at the time those were small shows drawing from a pool of whoever they could get. The UFC did not even rate the best fighter in the Gracie family, and it was a Gracie family production.

I also think it should be obvious that someone training one specific skill(boxing, greco, freestyle, kickboxing, BJJ, No-Gi, ect.) should be able to improve faster and to a higher level than someone who has to train both stand up and grappling. They have more time to practice and recover.

My major contention is that Rogan loves to speak like Fedor, and even Roy Nelson don't show prepared to fight. When the fuck did they gas? Nelson got out fought against JDS. He got tired because it is tiring to be repeatedly punched on the chin by someone who hits as hard as Cigano does. Fedor is 34 years old and has lost his last two fights bringing his record to an "abysmal" 31(8 knockouts and 16 submissions clearly not well rounded)-3 with one no contest. He is a multiple time World Combat Sambo champion and has won the Russian Judo Championships. Randy Couture's record stands at 19-10. His last three oppenants have been James Toney (does that even count), Mark Coleman, and Brandon "I fight so that Robert A will keep thinking I am going to live up to my potential, pick me to win, and then look like a jackass when I suck" Vera. Couture has never won more than 4 straight and the last time he did was in 2001. Does Couture train like a world class athlete? He was a world class greco-roman competitor. So by definition he does, but then so does Fedor. Except on April 30 Rogan will treat us to an explanation on how up to date Couture's training is, yet the game done up and changed on Fedor.

Evander Holyfield was one of the most rigorous and scientifically trained boxers in recent memory. He lost 2 out of 3 to Riddick Bowe. Bowe never looked like all that trim compared to Holyfield, but once the fight started he seemed to be adequatly prepared.

I am not arguing with anyone who has replied to this thread, because I know that if I start a thread and ask "Hey, I am an aspiring mixed martial artist/boxer/kickboxer and I need to know how to integrate xyz training methods into my program and look like GSP/Brock Lesnar, how can I get this done?" I will get a bunch of correct replies saying focus on road work, pad work, drills, and sparring. If I ask about getting ripped and implementing dynamic wackadoo tosses for time in order to raise my specific energy systems those of you not stroked out by the stupidity will tell me to train like a fucking fighter.


In terms of overall skill set, Fedor in his prime was/is better than Anderson because he is more of a complete fighter. That may be blasphemy to some, but Anderson's wrestling is below average. In the three main skill sets of Striking, Wrestling and Grappling, Fedor was above average in all areas. People knock Fedor's wrestling just because guys like Coleman and Randleman were able to take him down. No shame in that, and he submitted one from his back twice and easily swept the other. Not to mention he had very underrated trips and throws. I would say GSP is probably closest to the most complete fighter ever. Doesn't quite have Fedor's chin though. In terms of just pure physical skill sets, Fedor, BJ and GSP are probably the most complete.


A couple more quick points. Even though being well-rounded is now almost a necessity, if you look at most of the top 5 guys in every division they have a long background in one particular art: Anderson-MT,BJ in bjj, Lyoto-Shotokan, Bones-Greco. As someone else mentioned, it is still probably best to have one area of specialization, that way more time can actually be spent on the weaker areas (paraphrasing here).

Also, mma will still be limited by what types of athletes they draw. If they had more NFL caliber athletes, or Olympic level athletes, it could help. But the money just isn't there in MMA like other sports, and I'm not sure it ever will be.


This made me laugh, but kind of sad at the same time. I am looking to have my first amateur fight later this year. I train hard, eat right and do take it seriously despite working full-time and finishing my MBA. I think part of that culture is the "UFC Bro" posers. They want to tell people, especially women, that they "train UFC." Just from my experience, most of these people rarely train, let alone compete. An acquaintance of our gym has like a 12 fight amateur losing streak. Another refuses to work his ground game so every fight he gets mounted and finished. Mind you, these people don't actually train at our gym. This type of culture is why I also avoid watching fights at the local B-dubs or whatever. Most of the crowds there are largely ignorant of what they are actually watching. Yet they think wearing wearing a Tapout shirt makes them a BJJ blackbelt.


I have often said that if it wasn't for the people involved in your sport, I might actually like it.


lol what's the quote from Clerks? "I always said this job would be great if it wasn't for the customers." Something like that. I agree with you. I rarely tell average people I train, because that usually leads to talks about mma, which just depresses me. When mma started to get fairly mainstream, I quit following it for a while because of these reasons.


I think something that will hurt MMA is the lack of an amateur system. While I don't know much about amateur MMA fighting I do know that boxing has Silver Gloves, Golden Gloves, AIBA, PAL, Junior Olympic, and Olympic tournaments to gradually move fighters from one level to the next and get them experience on the national and international level. A boxer can train and compete year round as early as age 10 without it costing them anything really, they can train for free and have the cost of tournaments paid for by donors.