The Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded on the concept of, “which art is most dominant over all others? That question continues today in the form of , “which grappling method is most effect?” Many will argue Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, while many will argue for Wrestling. Other forms mentioned include Sambo and Judo. There is no right or wrong answer, as all forms have had their successes in the world of MMA. But which form of grappling in MMA seems to perform at a more consistent basis at the top of the rankings?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) become world-famous at UFC 1 as Royce Gracie used the art-form to claim the stake of BJJ being the most dominant system. Gracie would go on to win the UFC 2 and UFC 4 tournaments. Even to this day, BJJ black belts sit atop the UFC title rankings. Many will argue welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and heavyweight/ light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier are wrestlers.
Though they are, Woodley owns a BJJ black belt and Cormier owns a brown belt. Also, the middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, has a brown belt. This theory spreads worldwide as the KSW light heavyweight champion, Tomasz Narkun, is a black belt also. Many MMA fighters now train no-gi which is more practical in the MMA world. The BJJ Gi was a trademark of Gracie in the early UFC days.
The concept of BJJ is it’s a system that promotes a smaller, weaker person can successfully handle a much larger opponent by using proper technique. Anyone from a flyweight to a heavyweight can dominate their division with an impressive BJJ game. Where some art-forms may not be a necessity, BJJ is a requirement for any MMA fighter to be successful. Many of the world’s up and coming MMA fighters have come straight from the world of BJJ such as Dillon Danis and Garry Tonon. Their ground game has made them a scary individual to their opponent, knowing if they bout goes to the ground, it’s more than likely over.
The thing about the Wrestling art-form is that it can come in different styles or combination of styles. Those include Folkstyle, Greco-Roman and Freestyle. Arguably considered one of the oldest forms of combat, cave drawings nearly 15,000 years old depict many of the maneuvers still used today. Joe Rogan has famously stated before, “I personally think that the very best skill for MMA is wrestling. I think that’s the number one base to come from because those guys just flat out dictate where the fight takes place.”
Wrestlers are known to push the pace and exhibit amazing take-down ability. If a fight gets tough for a wrestler on the feet, arguably this is the best grappling method to neutralize that threat and not put yourself in a dangerous situation on the ground. Methods such as Judo can leave your neck open for a choke if you take down a BJJ practitioner. Some of the earliest, most successful names in the early days of the UFC came from wrestling backgrounds. Guys such as Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and Mark Coleman. The trend continues today with fighters such as Cormier, Woodley, and Yoel Romero with exceptional backgrounds in wrestling using their skill-set to dominate in MMA.
So Who Wins?
Many will concede if you have to pick one true form of grappling to reign atop the MMA world, it would come down to BJJ and wrestling. There are cases to support both as the superior ground art. The very best in the world, regardless of organization, have a hybrid of both BJJ and wrestling, such as the aforementioned champions Woodley and Cormier, which is by far the most successful method. If it was a must to choose one method, I see BJJ getting the nod. The versatility of finishes and maneuvers on the ground give it an edge over wrestling. As previously mentioned, even the top-ranked wrestlers in the world, have a high ranked BJJ belt. Let us know what your ideal grappling form for MMA success is.
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