Tuesday, 1 December 2020

What I hate about MMA

Weight Cutting 

Too many fighters try to win by being heavier than their opponents rather than putting in the time to master the fundamental skills of fighting. They focus on how much weight they can cut but dont spend learning how to throw a straight punch without dropping their hands. 

Weight divisions are necessary so fighters can be matched with opponents of  similar size however weight cutting is one of the prime examples of how far MMA has gotten away from its roots. 

The first UFC was won by the lightest fighter in the tournament, Royce Gracie. Shortly after that at UFC 5, he also went on to beat Dan Severn who outweighed him by 32 kg. The sport has evolved a lot since then but the clear lesson is that if you spend your time focusing on proper training then the extra few kgs of weight probably won’t make a big difference to the outcome of a fight especially in the early stages of the fighters career. 
It is also fundamentally opposed to what martial arts training is all about. The idea of trying to gain an advantage by being bigger and heavier is very impractical in the real world. You can't choose to be attacked in the street by someone only of your weight. 

Steroids
There’s an attitude that if you’re not cheating you’re not trying. All the top professionals take steroids and figure out clever ways to avoid getting caught so if you aren’t willing to do the same you’re naive and should find another sport. 
I don't really have a problem with taking them for bodybuilding or even for grappling only where you are unlikely to do long term damage to an opponent but in MMA, fighters risk brain damage or even death, therefore, I think I it’s unacceptable to turn a blind eye to this type of cheating. 
There is often the argument that you still have to train just as hard even if you are on steroids or that everyone else is taking them so there’s no point being at a disadvantage. Cheating is cheating no matter how you try to justify it and it goes against the spirit of what martial arts should be about. 

Trash Talking. 
Trash talking to promote fights usually just looks embarrassing and juvenile. Very few fighters such as Muhammad Ali & Conor McGregor genuinely have the skill to do this type of promotion well. Everyone else tries to imitate them and does a really bad job. 
Trained athletes getting into the cage to fight under very limited rules should be enough to generate interest from fans without the need to turn it onto the Jerry Springer show with storylines about why this fighter hates that fighter. 
I think it shows a lack of faith in their product that fight promoters feel the need to sell the sport with these manufactured storyline’s. The general public is perfectly willing to watch football, cricket, cycling, athletics and every other sport but for some reason, we won’t watch mixed martial arts unless we believe the fighters hate each other. 
Of course, there is evidence that the fights with the most hype and trash-talking lead to the biggest pay per view numbers but this is usually a short-sighted strategy whereby these new ‘fans’ get all excited about one fight but are then left disappointed when a high level mixed martial arts championship fight turns out to be not what they expected and so they go back to watching professional wrestling. 
Once again it also goes against what martial arts should be about. Honour, humility and respect. 

Dangerous Training Methods
MMA is generally a safe sport in terms of what goes on in the cage. This is due to regulation, monitoring, strict rules and guidelines for professional promotions. However, what goes on in the gyms in the lead up to fights is the real risk area. 
Anyone can claim to be an MMA coach without any actual experience or credentials. These coaches have no idea about how to train fighters safely and effectively and so instead just encourage young aspiring fighters to bash each other in the gym every day. While this can sometimes bring good results in the short term it will invariably lead to most of the fighters accumulating injuries which will derail their career or even worse to develop less visible but much more serious concussion-related problems which they will not begin to see the effects of until later in life. 
Sparring never needs to be full contact. My team practice many different forms of specific sparring drills which simulate what will actually happen in the fight. There is no reason to practice getting hit with full power strikes to the head. As someone who has fought extensively, I can tell you that being hit in a real fight is not the same as being hit by your training partners in sparring. The fighters and teams that spar too hard and boast online about how tough their training sessions are invariably all end up dropping off the scene within a few years rather than having any long term success. 

Bandwagon Jumpers
Mixed martial arts has become hugely popular in recent years. As the sport increased in popularity I've seen more and more people try to get involved and jump on the bandwagon. Sometimes this can be a great thing because it brings new blood and new ideas to the sport but more often than not it leads to flashy con men trying to exploit the impressionable next generation of up and coming fighters with big promises that seldom live up to the hype.
This is especially a problem for young fighters who don't yet fully understand how the sport works. They get experience some success early in their career and then suddenly the new coahes or managers appaera out of the woodwork and promise the world.
Obviously its not practical to force every coach, manager, promoter or gym owner to fight in MMA a few times in order to get some genuine experience. But, It makes a huge difference to have people with legitimate experience and background in the sport making the decisions that will affect those fighting in the cage.



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