Brock Lesnar. Jon Fitch. Dan Henderson. Mark Coleman. Jon Jones. Tom Lawlor. What do these gentlemen have in common, besides the fact that they were winners at UFC 100?
They all started out as wrestlers.
Say what you'd like about wrestling being boring, or the lay'n'pray style, but UFC 100 showed that wrestling is an essential part of MMA. Without it, you cannot win. Former UFC welterweight champion and collegiate wrestler Matt Hughes often says that wrestlers have an advantage because they can decide where the fight will take place, an adage that played out on Saturday.
Frank Mir had no answer for Lesnar's collegiate wrestling style, taking Mir down, then moving to the side to drive the jiu-jitsu specialist to his back. Paulo Thiago's BJJ was useless against Fitch, who didn't give Thiago room to breathe, much less move. For all of Michael Bisping's talk of outwrestling Henderson, the Brit couldn't even smell a takedown in their fight.
But the most effective wrestler at UFC 100 is the one who has never competed in the sport. Georges St. Pierre put on a takedown clinic against Thiago Alves. Double-leg takedowns, single-leg takedowns, shot and reshoot combinations, maintaining control and positioning while on top -- it was all classic wrestling. GSP never wrestled in high school or college, but he has learned how important and effective wrestling can be when used properly.
Now, no one can win big in MMA on wrestling alone. Henderson and Lesnar won with their fists. GSP mixed beautiful kicks, punches and elbows in with the takedowns. Getting a takedown means nothing without effective submission defense. But the next time you dismiss an up-and-coming fighter as another wrestler, remember how important it was to the winners of UFC 100.