Greco-Roman wrestlers have made some of the best MMA fighters in UFC history. This style makes for a great MMA base because it has great takedowns from the clinch and focuses on a stand-up posture.
Greco-Roman Wrestling is good preparation for an MMA career, as wrestlers are powerful, athletic, and fit. Their clinching and takedowns are helpful in the MMA ring.
Greco-Roman wrestlers can successfully transition to MMA if they wish to compete professionally. They simply need to learn how to better defend against double leg and single leg takedowns.
Wrestling Is The Best Base For MMA
A study on the background of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), champions from the past 25 years shows that wrestling is the dominant background for those competitors.
Four-time All-American Rutgers wrestler Sebastian Rivera investigated the previous careers of every UFC champion from 1997 to highlight wrestling’s dominance in MMA.
His research shows that out of the 70 UFC champions at that time, 28 had a wrestling background. The next closest is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with 17 and boxing with 12 winners in those years. Kickboxing, muay Thai, taekwondo, and karate are the remaining backgrounds of past UFC champions.
A large amount of these wrestlers come from a Greco-Roman wrestling background. Of course, many of them also had a background in freestyle wrestling and folkstyle wrestling as well. Either way, wrestling is shown to be the most dominant skill to transfer into MMA.
Why Wrestlers Do So Well In MMA
But why do wrestlers enjoy such a smooth transition to mixed martial arts? Rivera speculates that wrestlers have an advantage in close combat, as grapples and holds are a significant part of mainstream wrestling styles.
He also notes that fighters who have striking backgrounds may find it difficult to fend off wrestling takedowns.
Because of this wrestlers get to choose whether or not the fight stays up or goes to the ground. This way they might choose to take a kickboxer down but choose to stay standing with a submission specialist.
Using Greco-Roman Wrestling In MMA
Given wrestling is such a significant part of mixed martial arts, it is understandable that Greco-Roman and other wrestlers can successfully transition into MMA competitions such as UFC.
Greco-Roman wrestling transitions very well into MMA. Though I do believe it would be best to also have a background in other wrestling styles, there is a reason Greco Roman wrestlers have done so well in MMA.
One of the reasons I think Greco-Roman wrestlers do so well in MMA is that they wrestle from a more upright position than other styles.
This is because they are not concerned with takedowns below the waist. Though of course, you need to worry about this in MMA, it is good that they have spent more time wrestling from a similar posture an MMA fighter would take.
Greco-Roman Wrestling Takedowns Are Very Effective In MMA
In addition, upper-body takedowns from Greco-Roman wrestling are fantastic for when fighters are pressed up against the cage.
While MMA fighters must also master submissions and striking moves, being experts at wrestling gives them an excellent base to develop their mixed martial arts skills.
Greco-Roman wrestlers possess the type of grappling style that is very effective in MMA. Given they can quickly get their opponent in the clinch hold, wrestlers can then use moves such as throws and suplexes to get the upper hand in MMA.
Greco-Roman Wrestlers Can Handle the Pressure Of MMA
Zivanovic also points out that wrestlers usually train for the sport from a very young age. They are wrestling in middle school, high school, and college, while some even compete in amateur or even Olympic competitions as they get older.
Having hundreds to thousands of matches under their belt means that a wrestler understands the pressure of elite sport. They are also familiar with training intensely for a competition.
Some wrestlers peak at NCAA or Pan American tournaments, while others may even go to the Olympics. The pressures of an MMA fight are no more than such competitions. After all, wrestling is one of the toughest sports in the world.
Overall, MMA is an incredibly diverse sport, and top competitors have different styles, strengths, and weaknesses. Indeed, a quality wrestler with Greco-Roman experience can be successful in MMA.