Well-Rounded Victories in Vegas

ufc-196The sport of MMA continues to evolve as the time when fighters transferring from one discipline to MMA is giving way to the well-rounded fighters.

For years at the start of the UFC fighters went into the octagon essentially a bar fight trying to prove who was the toughest.

It was plow ahead and swing wildly until Royce Grace entered the promotion and all of a sudden the ground game became a major part of the sport.

Wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu practitioners began flooding the ranks of MMA with a new set of tools that the old guard couldn’t deal with.

It has only been more complicated since then but lately the influx of new fighters has seen more fighters start in MMA and work towards the UFC.

The fighters are well0runded knowing that they need to be comfortable wherever the fight goes if they want to be successful.

At the very least they needed to be able to defend their weakest aspect in order to put the fight where they were comfortable.

It doesn’t mean that fighters still don’t come into the UFC as one-dimensional athletes but some are good enough to get away with it while they train other aspects.

At UFC 196 two fighters that had ridden some very good stand-up were in for some big tests as everyone watched as they tried to ride it for another fight.

Holly Holm was always a world-class striker as she entered the UFC after a long career winning everything in women’s boxing and never losing a fight in a brief stint as a kickboxer.

There was no doubt that she was a great stand-up fighter but nobody had tested her on the ground thanks largely to her great takedown defence.

Most thought bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey would be the first but instead Rousey stayed standing and was knocked out for the first time ever.

Next up was Miesha Tate who has become known for her ability to brawl but before that stretch of fights was known for her well-rounded game.

Many thought that if Tate wanted to win she needed to learn from Rousey’s loss and take the fight to the ground rather than risk standing with such a technical fighter.

IF she did that she had a shot at taking home the title she had been working for since she entered the UFC in 2013.

The fight started slowly with Holm staying on the outside and picking her spots but staying far less active than she used to.

In the second round, the lack of multiple tools in the fight game really showed as Tate took the fight to the ground and beat up on Holm who had no answer on the mat.

Despite coming close Tate couldn’t finish in the second and the rest of the fight went on with Holm continuing to stay on the outside while Tate seemed unsure when going for the takedown.

Then the fifth and final round came and once again Tate put the fight on the mat where once again Holm had no answer and, this time, Tate sunk in a rear naked choke.

So Holm’s reign as champion was over and Tate’s began as she prepares for another fight against Rousey, a fighter Tate has yet to beat in two fights.

Holm was not alone on the night in going into a fight with a suspect ground game but a great stand-up game.

Conor McGregor made his way to the Featherweight title due to his great striking and ability to avoid any damage.

He always fought loose and stayed out of the way of his opponent’s strikes while unleashing accurate punches, one such that knocked out the top pound-for-pound fighter Jose Aldo.

The problem for McGregor is that, like Holm, not many tested his ground game although fans got a look when Chad Mendes landed a takedown in the first round of their fight.

McGregor looked good enough to defend but not good enough to actively get out of the bad position and many saw it as his weakness.mma-sidebar.fw

He had time to work on that aspect and against Nate Diaz at UFC 196 he was likely to be tested when he faced BJJ black belt Nate Diaz.

Diaz loves the stand-up game and loves to get into brawls but his BJJ game is great and the smart move would have been to take the fight to the ground.

The fight didn’t get there at the start though as McGregor showcased his stand-up slipping most punches from Diaz and landing plenty of his own even opening up a cut above Diaz’s right eye.

Round two was much the same until finally Diaz landed a good shot and that strong punch seemed to shock McGregor.

All of a sudden he wasn’t moving as well as he had in the first round and Diaz landed more putting the featherweight champion into a bad situation.

In what seemed like an act of desperation, McGregor shot on Diaz but wasn’t successful instead giving Diaz top position on the ground.

McGregor gave up his back and that suspect ground game was exposed as Diaz locked in a rear naked choke to take the win.

For Diaz, the win has put a huge name on his record as he seems to have impressed Dana White enough to earn a title fight at welterweight.

For the Irishman, the loss is not a terrible thing aside from ending his plans for ruling the UFC and winning multiple titles.

It is still a possibility but he will go back to the featherweight division and look to defend his belt a few times before moving weight classes again.

What the loss could do is show McGregor that there is work to be done a lesson that Holm will likely learn as well.

Losing will always teach a fighter more and if Holm and McGregor learn from their first losses in the UFC they could be back and well-rounded making them more dangerous than before they won their titles.

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