T Nation

Where Is MMA At?

Watching the first couple of UFCs from almost 15 years ago, I was struck by how one-dimensional the fighters looked. Even a mid-tier fighter today would be a real threat to most of those guys. Which got me thinking how we’ll be looking back at today’s crop of fighters in another 15 years.

Just how good are the top MMA guys in the world right now? That is, are we likely to see a much higher standard of fighting over the next 20 years? Is Fedor at the same level Michael Jordan was in basketball or Tiger Woods in golf? Are there enough quality fighters competing right now?

My opinion is that the guys are the top today truly are greats - they’d be able to hang with almost anyone to come in the years ahead. However, the current quality of the competition outside the Top 5 in any weight class (in any MMA organisation) quickly falls away. That is, not enough depth in the ranks.

What about styles? What’s gonna dominate in the next five years? Sure, styles make fights but champions are champions - Fedor, Crocop and Nogueira are very different fighters, but all worthy of the HW crown.

Lots of questions to stir up some discussion.

[quote]justrob wrote:
Watching the first couple of UFCs from almost 15 years ago, I was struck by how one-dimensional the fighters looked. Even a mid-tier fighter today would be a real threat to most of those guys. Which got me thinking how we’ll be looking back at today’s crop of fighters in another 15 years.

Just how good are the top MMA guys in the world right now? That is, are we likely to see a much higher standard of fighting over the next 20 years? Is Fedor at the same level Michael Jordan was in basketball or Tiger Woods in golf? Are there enough quality fighters competing right now?

My opinion is that the guys are the top today truly are greats - they’d be able to hang with almost anyone to come in the years ahead. However, the current quality of the competition outside the Top 5 in any weight class (in any MMA organisation) quickly falls away. That is, not enough depth in the ranks.

What about styles? What’s gonna dominate in the next five years? Sure, styles make fights but champions are champions - Fedor, Crocop and Nogueira are very different fighters, but all worthy of the HW crown.

Lots of questions to stir up some discussion. [/quote]

I don’t see the standard of fighting getting much higher. The difference is now the fighters integrate several different fighting styles into their game, hence the term mixed martial arts. That wasn’t the case before, and that makes all the difference.

I disagree. If it contiunes to get more mainstream at the rate it is now, more people will aspire to become MMA fighters so depth of talent will increase. That and the paychecks will get higher and the better quality of athlete will want to compete.

Today you have kids under 12 years old practicing and fighting in MMA. I saw a thread on here a while back which had a link to the kids MMA fight videos. Those kids were impressive with their knowledge of submissions, and many of them were under the age of 12.

I think MMA will develop along the lines of many other sports. Records will continue to be beat, new standards set, and the fighters will just get better. The significant difference is that MMA is still relatively young which still gives room foor rapid growth, which is what you see looking back over the past 15 years. I feel MMA is approaching a peak, and the rapid growth seen over the past 15 years, will begin to level off.

[quote]AdamC wrote:

I don’t see the standard of fighting getting much higher. The difference is now the fighters integrate several different fighting styles into their game, hence the term mixed martial arts. That wasn’t the case before, and that makes all the difference.

I disagree. If it contiunes to get more mainstream at the rate it is now, more people will aspire to become MMA fighters so depth of talent will increase. That and the paychecks will get higher and the better quality of athlete will want to compete.
[/quote]

Oh, sure. If the paydays get bigger than the higher caliber athletes will be involved. Good point.

My point was this: The best competitors now train multiple facets. Everybody will now do this. So you will not be comparing fighters with only one set of skills vs. fighters with many. For example you could compare boxers of the past to boxers of the present. They both trained the same skill: boxing. Training, nutrition, etc. may be improved in the present day. People still can make sound arguments over boxers from the past being superior to boxers of the present, or the other way around.

The caliber of athlete will rise.
You’ll have more and more guys that are specimens that could be competitive in any athletic endeavor they committed to. I know a guy who had a full NCAA scholarship ditch it to pursue MMA… That is whats going to be brought to the table soon.

You have more top notch trainers and the knowledge of techniques is readily available. Mayhem Miller spent the first year or so training just from videos (video jiujitsu lol). But mostly because MMA is eventually going to have bigger paydays so you’ll see more people training from a younger age.

Imagine if you’ve been able to Throw a jab, shoot a double, get mount, gnp, then armbar since you were 8, and it was as natural to you as jumping or sprinting. Hell the level of techniques may get more extreme. We might just see some of that “cool movie shit” that everyone presumes “Doesn’t work”. You never know…

We’ll be seeing more and more “phenoms”. More BJ Penn’s, more Fedors, More Cro-Cops, more GSP’s. Imagine a UFC/PrideFC FILLED with guys like that.

I think that is where the future of MMA is going. Whether you’re in TMA, MMA, or WTFMA It’s an exciting time for martial arts right now period.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
Today you have kids under 12 years old practicing and fighting in MMA. I saw a thread on here a while back which had a link to the kids MMA fight videos. Those kids were impressive with their knowledge of submissions, and many of them were under the age of 12.

I think MMA will develop along the lines of many other sports. Records will continue to be beat, new standards set, and the fighters will just get better. The significant difference is that MMA is still relatively young which still gives room foor rapid growth, which is what you see looking back over the past 15 years. I feel MMA is approaching a peak, and the rapid growth seen over the past 15 years, will begin to level off. [/quote]

i would think that with proper promotion mma will continue to grow. most people have no idea what they are watching when they watch UFC. before the TUF shows on spike tv, fans were primarily limited to those who had competed in mma on some level, or in one of the sports utilized in mma. once it went main stream, it picked up a number of new fans who liked the all out violence of it.

it was promoted very well through a reality tv series where new fighters could be seen and their careers can be followed by new fans, while creating drama between old fighters to get people involved in the existing history of the sport.

i bet this type of fan base is near it’s peak, but these fans are yuppies in that they don’t know what is going on really. mma is trendy and the cool new thing to like. i bet what we see is an increase in the understanding behind the strategies, fighting styles and competitiveness of the sport, which will increase the fan base even more so as people begin to realize it is fun to watch as a sport rather than for blood lust.

once it is realized as an actual sport, and more people become enlightened to that fact, i wouldn’t be surprised to see mma becoming the boxing of the early 1900’s.

[quote]Xen Nova wrote:
a bunch of stuff

[/quote]

I honestly don’t see what the hype is about Mayhem Miller. Sure he’s a cool guy and all, but he doesn’t really strike me as that good of a fighter. Don’t start saying how he went to decision with GSP, either. He was a bloody mess when that fight was over. He also recently lost to Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg.

The consensus seems to be that the standard of fighting in MMA is only going to improve in the years to come - which I agree with. But am I the only guy who’s not totally thrilled with guys training in MMA from the get-go? Seems to be happening more and more these days, as the sport goes mainstream, and I can’t say I’m a big fan of this.

Personally I prefer that a fighter be world class in a particular discipline (eg, kickboxing, BJJ, sambo or whatever) and only THEN make the switch to MMA. This way we get to see top quality striking, grappling, wrestling in MMA. Fine, we may not see all these skills in the one fighter, but to me that’s better than seeing a more “complete” fighter with little more than average overall skills (I can’t get the image of Royce Gracie trying to punch and kick, out of my head … ugh, ugly stuff).

[quote]Xen Nova wrote:
The caliber of athlete will rise.
You’ll have more and more guys that are specimens that could be competitive in any athletic endeavor they committed to. I know a guy who had a full NCAA scholarship ditch it to pursue MMA… That is whats going to be brought to the table soon.

…[/quote]

This is true to a certain extent but real fighters have a different mentality than most athletes.

I don’t think MMA is going to draw too many athletes away from other money making sports unless that athlete already has that fighters edge to him.

It will get interesting. I am going to enjoy watching the growth of MMA as most other sports have lost their luster in my eyes.

[quote]justrob wrote:
Personally I prefer that a fighter be world class in a particular discipline (eg, kickboxing, BJJ, sambo or whatever) and only THEN make the switch to MMA. This way we get to see top quality striking, grappling, wrestling in MMA. Fine, we may not see all these skills in the one fighter, but to me that’s better than seeing a more “complete” fighter with little more than average overall skills (I can’t get the image of Royce Gracie trying to punch and kick, out of my head … ugh, ugly stuff).
[/quote]

I don’t think I understand this. You mention that a fighter should be specialized but then suggest the ugliness of when specializations occur.

When I see a “Complete” fighter, I don’t see it as can only have low ability in skills that is spread out, but complete ability in all skills.

For instance, the “stereotype” power hitter in baseball. Hits a lot of home runs, batting average is ok, strikes out a lot, and isn’t a basestealer. This kind of specialized in baseball. But the complete player would do it all (Beltran, Vernon Wells, etc.). Thats how I perceive them. They are good in all areas and use their ability when it is required.

Royce’s striking ability is obviously an eye sore as was Bas Rutten’s take down defence back in the day. This was due to them coming from a specialized background. If they trained in MMA throughout, they would be better off today.

The world of the MMA fighter will continuously evolve as all athletic endeavors have over the years.

I have to agree that as MMA becomes bigger money, we are going to see better athletes.

Right now there are very few MMA fighters that are well rounded and great natural athletes. Honestly GSP is the only one that comes to mind. Cro-cop, Fedor, Liddell are all great fighters, but they dont really strike me as great natural athletes like those found in the NFL and NBA.

I still do not think we have seen the best MMA fighter yet and we will continue to see the sport evolve and grow as better athletes are involved from a younger age.

[quote]Angrypenguin wrote:
Right now there are very few MMA fighters that are well rounded and great natural athletes. GSP is the only one that comes to mind.
[/quote]

I’m very curious as to what stellar logic you used to make this statement. If all these NCAA All-American wrestlers, Olympic wrestlers, and kickboxing champions don’t “strike” you as good athletes I want to know what your definition is.

[quote]Donut62 wrote:
Angrypenguin wrote:
Right now there are very few MMA fighters that are well rounded and great natural athletes. GSP is the only one that comes to mind.

I’m very curious as to what stellar logic you used to make this statement. If all these NCAA All-American wrestlers, Olympic wrestlers, and kickboxing champions don’t “strike” you as good athletes I want to know what your definition is.[/quote]

Great athletes certainly, but world class? I don’t know about that. Take boxing for example. Historically the best athletes involved in “combat sports” in the states are boxers. Can you imagine, for example, Roy Jones Jr in his prime (say 1997 or so) fighting middleweight in UFC or Pride after having trained in MMA?

I think he would crush all the strikers in that class. I have no doubt an athlete like that could learn the ground game as well. The paydays just aren’t there at this point to lure those kind of athletes. Not when boxing can offer 20 + million paydays for one fight.

Certainly there are world class athletes in MMA, but they aren’t as prevelant as in the other, higher paying, sports.

[quote]brand wrote:
Certainly there are world class athletes in MMA, but they aren’t as prevelant as in the other, higher paying, sports. [/quote]

I agree with that, I just disagreed with the part that I quoted which seemed entirely negative on the athleticism of these guys on the whole. Obviously the sport is growing and the talent pool is still relatively shallow and there are some real turds out there. But there are definetely a lot freakishly strong and powerful MMA fighters with incredible athleticism. Case in point 225 lbs of Ricardo Arona.

[quote]Donut62 wrote:
brand wrote:
Certainly there are world class athletes in MMA, but they aren’t as prevelant as in the other, higher paying, sports.

I agree with that, I just disagreed with the part that I quoted which seemed entirely negative on the athleticism of these guys on the whole. Obviously the sport is growing and the talent pool is still relatively shallow and there are some real turds out there. But there are definetely a lot freakishly strong and powerful MMA fighters with incredible athleticism. Case in point 225 lbs of Ricardo Arona.

[/quote]

Exactly, when his type of athleticism is the norm instead of the exception, then MMA is going to be at a summit.

[quote]Angrypenguin wrote:
I have to agree that as MMA becomes bigger money, we are going to see better athletes.

Right now there are very few MMA fighters that are well rounded and great natural athletes. Honestly GSP is the only one that comes to mind. Cro-cop, Fedor, Liddell are all great fighters, but they dont really strike me as great natural athletes like those found in the NFL and NBA.

I still do not think we have seen the best MMA fighter yet and we will continue to see the sport evolve and grow as better athletes are involved from a younger age.[/quote]

Crocop and Fedor are not natural athletes!?

Have you seen Crocops sprawl? His refelxes are unreal. And Fedor might be a tubby bitch but the guy moves like a cat at over 200lbs. Definately world class athletes.

[quote]Angrypenguin wrote:
Right now there are very few MMA fighters that are well rounded and great natural athletes. Honestly GSP is the only one that comes to mind. Cro-cop, Fedor, Liddell are all great fighters, but they dont really strike me as great natural athletes like those found in the NFL and NBA.[/quote]

This is a prett ignorant statement. How do you define “natural athletes.” A quick 40? A high high jump?

That’s arbitrary and nonsensical.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
I don’t think MMA is going to draw too many athletes away from other money making sports unless that athlete already has that fighters edge to him.[/quote]

For once, I agree with you. A lot of people commenting here have no idea about the X-factor a fighter must have.

They think someone who can lift heavy weights and run fast just needs to take a few BJJ and jiu jitsu classes, and bang!, he’ll be a contendor. There is so much more to it than that.

It’s really not even worth arguing with such people. They just don’t understand the fighter’s spirit. They think fighting is just like any other sport.

I totally agree about the fighter spirit. Match that with well rounded training and freaky athleticism and then you will have the MMAer of tomorrow hopefully.

When I am speaking of natural athletes I am talking about people like Bo Jackson, Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Herschel Walker, etc.

While Fedor is a bad, bad man, I dont think he is in the same category as a pure athlete as the ones I named. Someone that could excell at any sport they put their energy into.