The sport of MMA has grown by leaps and bounds and when it comes to preparation it is probably the most difficult of all sports. A fighter must be proficient in striking, wrestling and Jiu Jitsu to be successful at the highest level. If you are weak in any one level it will be exposed when you make it to the big leagues.
Of course Wrestling and BJJ are important but we are going to talk about striking today, particularly Boxing. In my opinion, boxing is the most neglected part of today’s MMA training. When I say boxing I’m not talking about jab, cross, hook, uppercut. I am talking about the key details that make Boxing the sweet science. The angles, footwork, distance control and defensive maneuvers that are not found in any other art are what make boxing great. So why are these things neglected in MMA. Hell, even fighters in my gym neglect training with the amazing boxing coaches that we have on staff. Why?
Let’s look at all of the current UFC champions and see what they are doing to improve their Boxing. Bantamweight Champ Dominic Cruz trains with Eric Del Fiero to keep his hands and his angles sharp. Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo has worked with the amazing Barry Robinson in Holland. Barry, owner of a million styles boxing, has worked with all of the top Dutch Muay Thai Fighters. Lightweight Champ Ben Henderson works his hands with George Garcia. Welterweight Champion George St Pierre and Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva added Boxing Hall of Famer Freddy Roach to their training teams to learn the sweet science. Silva has even fought a few pro boxing matches and considered leaving MMA for boxing at one time. Light heavyweight Champ Jon Jones works with Coach Mike Winkeljohn to tighten up his boxing and footwork. UFC Heavyweight Champ Cain Valasquez works with Roberto Garcia and Javier Mendez on his boxing.
If the absolute best MMA fighters in the world used Western Boxing to be the become champions why do so many fighters neglect learning the art of boxing? How can they think it is not applicable in MMA when the best fighters in the world have hired boxing coaches? Even after losing to superior boxers many fighters never work on their weakness. Many wont even admit they have a deficiency.
So, what makes boxing so important for MMA? First, angles, controlling distance and fighting in a circle. These techniques are very important when defending a takedown. Fighting forward is a sure way to be timed by a wrestler looking to take you down. Stepping off line and controlling distance gives you a little more control over the takedown. Further, using the H-defense as your main defense is a sure way to get KO’d in 4oz gloves. Understanding head movement and punch defense is a must in MMA.
I’ve been blessed to do seminars all over the world covering boxing for MMA and it always amazes me how many veteran fighters don’t understand these basic concepts of boxing. Why are people attempting to recreate the wheel when the current champions have created a blueprint for success? Boxing is an essential part of becoming a successful MMA fighter. Either learn it or get beat by it. It’s up to you.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some vids on the basics of footwork, head movement and controlling distance. If you’re not currently working with a legit boxing coach and you have aspirations of being an MMA fighter you may want to rethink your training regimen. If you can’t punch in combination, control distance and angles and fight in a circle, you are going to be lost against a person that can.
Champions Training Center Savannah, GA ctcsavannah.com