When mixed martial arts and the UFC were relatively new, the sport was dominated by the Gracie family Brazil. Their jiu jitsu was legendary and they viewed the sport as an opportunity to prove that their fighting style was superior to all others. The philosophy of the art said that almost every real life fight eventually ends up on the ground, so a fighter who can dominate on the ground and proactively take his opponent to the ground has the advantage.
That worked for a while in MMA fighting. Hulking brawlers battered each other into unconsciousness, but technical submission specialists ruled the day. As a student of the hard striking style of Tang Soo Do, I saw those tiny four ounce grappling gloves and wondered why more people weren't getting knocked out early and often.
The gloves used in MMA fighting do more to protect the puncher's hand than his opponent's brain cells. Anyone who has been in a real fist fight would rather punch with them on than bare-fisted for that exact reason. Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, or any top tier boxer would be wrecking machines with MMA gloves.
I've fought with eight ounce boxing gloves and make no mistake, they are not cushions. Most fans would be surprised at how hard and thin they really are, but they are much broader than the hand and consequently, they tend to spread out the force over a larger surface area. They're physically larger so it is more difficult to slip a punch cleanly through an opponent's defense.
An accurate puncher should be able to use the smaller MMA gloves to score at will with multiple straight jabs that keep an opponent at a distance, or to throw rib-cracking body shots when the ditance closes. Yet, MMA fighters seem more intent on throwing big haymakers, brawler's punches, than in technical boxing. They have power in their punches, don't get me wrong, but it's as if the MMA ground game were reduced to a contest of brute strength instead of technical jiu jitsu expertise.
The flipside of that is that what MMA fighters seem to lack basic boxing defensive skills as well. That means that they get hit with wide, looping haymakers that any journeyman boxer would avoid and use as an opportunity to close and counter against an off-balance and over-extended opponent.
With very few exceptions MMA fighters seem unable to put together quality combinations. I'm not counting flailing punches as a fighter bull rushes to drive an opponent back against the cage. MMA fighters may use a straight jab, but it's one and done. A quality boxer will throw double or triple jabs that each snap the head back and make an opponent think twice about closing the distance. In closer, he'll put together eight or ten punches all delivered with power from a well-balanced foundation, while maintaining a good defense. That doesn't happen in the MMA.
There are guys in the UFC and other MMA leagues that make their living by knocking out their opponents, but their success reminds me more of Dave Kingman's home run power than the sweet science of Ted Williams. The Superman punch? Really?
Brad has been a fan of mixed martial arts since Royce Gracie won the first UFC in 1993, and a lifelong fan of boxing. He has studied Tang Soo Do and Judo. He fought three amateur kick-boxing matches at 143 pounds, winning two, the last in 1990.
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Martial Arts
- mixed martial arts