Mixed martial arts has undeniably revolutionized modern-day combat sports. Fight fans no longer need to rely on boxing events to supplement their fighting needs, as promotions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have slowly built a competitive sports empire and ushered in a new generation of popular hand-to-hand.
One question that usually arises when MMA is discussed; what is the superior martial art?
Because MMA combines multiple disciplines from striking and grappling realms, finding one true answer will probably be debated for years to come. The honest truth is that no single martial art can take the crown, but we can certainly highlight the crucial benefits of owning expertise in one area.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has long dominated inside the MMA cages throughout the planet, including in the world’s most popular promotion, the UFC.
The most successful fighter during the UFC’s initial years of business was Royce Gracie, a BJJ practitioner who solely focused on submitting his opponents and grappling his way to victory. Gracie opted not to strike, and whilst modern-day MMA has undoubtedly evolved where fighters must be very well equipped in all facets of mixed martial arts, BJJ is still a dominant discipline.
Charles Olivera, the current UFC featherweight champion, is an excellent striker, but as the owner of more submission finishes in UFC history (16), his 3rd-degree black belt attributes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu cannot be ignored.
Without jiu-jitsu, MMA would feel incomplete; alongside striking and wrestling, it’s one of the three primary components of the sport. But why?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Spread Globally
Prior to the rise and popularity of the UFC, BJJ was relatively unknown outside the borders of Brazil.
As the UFC and the Gracie family spread awareness of BJJ, instructors migrated (mainly to the U.S.), and the global rise of jiu-jitsu was underway.
Former UFC champion Matt Serra – most known for defeating George St-Pierre – is a perfect example of how BJJ has transitioned from the favelas of Brazil to almost every corner of the globe. The New York-based fighter became the first-ever American to be awarded a black belt from Renzo Gracie, and UFC champions and competitors of today still use his knowledge.
Serra founded his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym Serra BJJ in 2001 and is based in Huntington, New York, in conjunction with Longo-Weidman MMA. These two gyms operate in the Empire State to deliver striking and, notably, an elite level of BJJ teachings.
Since the legalization of sports betting has arrived in the Big Apple, paying attention to the BJJ expertise of Serra’s students could have paid dividends. BetMGM New York placing champion Sterling as a considerable underdog in his first title defense versus Petr Yan earlier this year was evidence of this.
Alongside Sterling, the likes of Merab Dvalishvili, Chris Weidman, and Al Iaquinta have all been noteworthy fighters you can place a wager on and know they’re going to fight for your money.
BJJ: The Best Base Skill in MMA?
And what do the aforementioned fighters have in common? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, you’ll struggle to find an elite-level mixed martial artist who hasn’t added BJJ to his repertoire.
Fighters who own a solid base in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are instantly granted an advantage once a fight hits the mat. Not only is it one of the best defenses to counter wrestlers, but it’s also the best ground offense to finish a fight.
The term ‘best base’ is loosely used, and to be honest, no skill set is “the best” for MMA; there’s a reason why it’s called mixed martial arts. And in today’s climate of skill level, fighters need to be well versed in every area of the sport. With that said, BJJ is an excellent base for beginners; it’s a good base for anyone looking to start their MMA journey. Man, woman, or child, young or old, BJJ has multiple benefits, including mental and physical health. It isn’t just available for aspiring fighters, as the family atmosphere in most BJJ gyms will provide the warmth and support that many people don’t expect.
BJJ has been a crucial supporting block in professional mixed martial arts, and without it, the success and popularity of MMA today probably wouldn’t exist.