Best Doesn’t Always Mean Best – Why Personal Style Counts in MMA

Rousey & McMann
Rousey & McMann

With this week’s UFC title fight hype between Olympic medalists Ronda Rousey and Sarah McMann in full gear, it’s interesting to see the UFC use their resumes before MMA as a selling point for the fight.

Both have proven themselves in the cage with undefeated records, and have proven to transcend their root sports (judo and wrestling respectively). They have worked hard to main event UFC 170 and get where they are today.

I was on the ProWMMANow podcast last week with host Gina Begley and we got into a discussion about the assumption if you are one of the best in your chosen discipline that you will be successful in MMA.

“Maybe the best in the world of jiu-jitsu could be the best in the world in jiu-jitsu but not necessarily in MMA,” Begley commented. “Not every black belt can apply it to MMA. You maybe an Olympic level athlete in jiu-jitsu and have the work ethic, but your BJJ may not transfer well to MMA. It depends on the person. How does their style going to translate into MMA?”

Several world champion BJJ and Muay Thai fighters are making the transition into MMA, and some are hitting stumbling blocks. BJJ blackbelt and Pan-Am champion Miriam Cordoso lost her first MMA last month. Muay Thai world champion Hatice Ozyurt is currently 1-2 in MMA.

This begs the question, what does it take for a world champion in another combat sport to be successful in MMA?

“It’s not the exact same formula for everyone I think. It’s just about how well they can apply it.”

Bruce Lee once said “The man who is really serious, with the urge to find out what truth is, has no style at all. He lives only in what is.” Not everyone fights the exact same style in any combat sport, be it MMA, Judo, BJJ or boxing. Fighters have tenancies and quirks that make her/him different than the next person.

“One thing Ronda Rousey has is her judo translates very well into MMA,” Begley replied. “There are male black belts in Judo, medalists in Judo, who tried to take their level of judo that you would say is the same level as Ronda Rousey and they can’t fight as well in MMA in the way that she does.”

“If you really want to succeed you need to transcend above style. You have to transcend being stuck in form. You have to get to a point it’s a natural reaction.”

The big take away is that just because you are the best in the sport doesn’t always mean you will be the best in MMA. On the flip side, if you are a world class athlete but haven’t gotten to “grab the brass ring” in your chosen sport, MMA might be great for you.

Having a long resumes does give fighters some credit, but how they make the transition in MMA is always a toss up.


One thought on “Best Doesn’t Always Mean Best – Why Personal Style Counts in MMA”

  1. I think that if you cant defend on BJJ techniques you cant win in MMA. For MMA you need to be strong on BJJ and in onother speciality.

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