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MMA: Ground and pound

Feature 20 Jul 2013, 21:05 IST
UFC 100

2009: UFC Welterweights Georges St-Pierre (R) battles Thiago Alves (L) during their Welterweight title bout

Many cry for blood, as the two opponents circle each other, quietly sizing each other up. The crowd takes in their breath, the two fighters take their stance, bodies tight with anticipation, a bell rings and all hell breaks loose.

Sounds of flesh being pounded and bodies being dropped are accompanied along with shouts of awe and encouragement from the crowd. Saliva and blood splatter across the ring as the two fighters battle each other to be the last man standing. This is blood, lust and violence, this is pain and glory; this is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

MMA is a full contact combat sport, and arguably the fastest growing sport in the world. It brings together a number of disciplines like Boxing, Karate, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, Wrestling, Judo and Muay (Thai kick-boxing) to name just a few.

Fighters are usually well trained and come from a background in one of these techniques before they enter MMA. However, to make it to the top of this mountain of pain, one needs to be strong in multiple areas. This sport requires not only physical strength and speed, but also some hardcore mental grit.

The pinnacle of MMA is the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). It is the biggest MMA organisation in the world and hosts many of the sport’s big stars. It holds most of its events in the U.S. but has started doing more and more overseas events each year.

In the early years, Mixed Martial Arts included a variety of traditional styles from Sumo wrestling to kickboxing. Over time, the less effective techniques were dropped.

By the time the UFC was launched, three martial arts styles stood out for their effectiveness in competition: Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, amateur wrestling, and shoot wrestling. The combination of these disciplines make fighters highly effective, both during striking and grappling situations.

Different techniques and what background they come from:

• Stand-up techniques come from various forms of boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and forms of full contact karate. These improve footwork, elbowing, kicking, kneeing and punching.

• Clinch techniques use freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, Sambo and judo. These improve clinching, take-downs and throws, while Muay Thai is trained to improve the striking aspect of the clinch.

• Ground techniques- come from Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, shoot wrestling, catch wrestling, judo and Sambo. These improve submission holds and defense against them, as well as the ability to maintain ground control. A combination of all these techniques is what gives fighters’ abilities to combat, taking the contest to an extreme edge.

The exact MMA rules vary slightly from competition to competition (some allow elbow strikes, head-butts and spinal locks). However, there is a universal ban on techniques like biting, strikes to the groin, eye gouging, fish-hooking and small joint manipulation.

One of the biggest names in MMA is Georges St-Pierre from Canada. He is the UFC Welterweight Champion and has not been defeated in nearly four years.

Other notable fighters are Brazilian Anderson da Silva, Russian Fedor Emelianenko and Quentin “Rampage” Jackson from America. Because of the pure uncensored clashes between awesome forces of speed, power and dexterity, this sport is gaining popularity at an international scale.

In India, the sport is growing fast with many MMA enthusiasts putting in capital for this industry to come up. Raj Kundra, owner of the IPL team Rajasthan Royals, and currently infamous Bollywood action hero Sanjay Dutt, through their company, Super Fight Promotions Pvt. Ltd., have launched India’s first professionally-organized Mixed Martial Arts fighting league, called the Super Fight League  ‘SFL’.

Gyms and training centers are offering training opportunities, as the culture of licensed fight nights grows across cities.

Now, let’s pause for a second. By now you have probably painted a picture in your mind that includes all the associations with glamour, stardom, lights, music, victory, pride and glory. These are, but figments of your imagination. Take away the lights, the music; take away the glory, the fame, the glitzy dressed cheerleaders in your head, and now, what do you have left? You have an empty hall, where dead center lies the ring surrounded by a steel cage as if to control the behemoth forces that are to clash inside.

Take the long walk towards the ring. Climb inside the cage and there standing across, is your opponent. He isn’t fame, he isn’t glory, nor is he stardom, or lights and music.

He is someone who is willing to go to any extent to beat you down, kick you to the floor and keep you there, permanently. Are you willing to stay down and back away, or will you rise to meet your opponent, kick for kick, punch for punch and not stop until he is the one down on the floor? And relish that incredible and almost animal like feeling of pride and victory will come to you, as you stare down at the one you have defeated. Tell me now, are you ready to fight?

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