Striking is a big part of MMA. Since the early days of MMA when Tank Abbott turned full grown men into pretzels, to Vitor Belfort‘s lightning fast hands, to Anderson Silva‘s precision striking, we have seen a vast evolution of striking in MMA.
Lets look at a guy like Anthony Pettis, he is a perfect example of how far the stand up game has evolved in MMA. He utilizes his lightning speed with incredible precision to come up with ‘The Showtime kick’ or the cartwheel kick he used in the Cerrone fight.
Or Jose Aldo‘s crisp boxing and thunderous leg kicks combined with excellent footwork, timing and head movement. I truly believe that we are seeing MMA go through a big transition in the level of techniques being employed.
So why is it evolving? Obviously as sports progress things change. As a sport MMA is still relatively young so its natural that techniques will become more advanced. Although I think striking has evolved much more than any other aspect in the sport.
I remember seeing Art Jimmerson earn himself the nickname ‘One glove’ after he entered UFC 1 wearing a single boxing glove, confident in his boxing abilities. Unfortunately for Art the man he fought was Royce Gracie and it didn’t last long.
The contrast between then and now is astounding. Anderson Silva for instance is a perfect example of the case in point. His ability to avoid damage and score sniper-like knockouts in truly dominant fashion is a sight to behold.
Fighter’s ability to master both MMA and traditional martial arts seems to be a big part of this. Muay Thai or Taekwondo in MMA are very different from their pure forms. A fighter who can master both aspects can really do a lot of damage in the cage.
Edson Barboza is another example of a modern day striker. He has incredible athleticism, which he combines with his Muay Thai and taekwondo to devastating effect. The wheel kick he knocked Terry Etim out with was one of the best I’ve seen.
Junior dos Santos shows incredible boxing skills and even more noteworthy is his speed as a heavyweight.
It leaves me wondering what the next step will be in striking’s evolution in MMA. What will be the next martial art to be integrated into the sport?