Striking Evolution: A look at the best in the game


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?

  • You ask what will be the next martial art incorporated and it's very hard to answer, we have got at least a little bit of just about every effective striking martial art in MMA already.

    The thing is, many guys are still struggling to incorporate the MMA's foundation striking styles, Muay Thai and Boxing.
    Before we see Tae-Kwon-Do or Karate implemented regularly, I think we have to wait for when the new generation of fighters (Bones, Rory, Aldo) is what the majority of MMA athletes fight like and from the beginning they are well versed in a variety of striking, as well as ground fighting.

    • i like the more wild like the axe murderer, nothing compares to him its getting knock out or knock him out.

      • Almost zero technique, windmilling all of your punches like a fool and never moving your head or using footwork?…. No thanks.

        • @Bryan to be fair it worked great last Saturday

  • I love this picture of AS and Forest… looks like The goat is thinking something like:
    "No you didn't white boy"
    And we all know what came after……Pure Magic!

    • I'm sure it was something, something, whiteboy.

    • Griffin said I tried to hit him and he just moved his head out of the way like you slow slow whiteboy did you really think you was going to hit me. Then he punched me in the face lol

    • KILL WHITEY!!!

  • You make a good point Keith, but has anyone used rex kwon doe?

  • The answer is simple grasshopper- kungfu…wait till the Chinese embrace MMA, they already have San Chou with a great focus on footwork. think Cung Lee meets Chris Weidman but younger and more well rounded.

  • Muay Thai, Boxing, Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Wrestling, Taekwondo are the main disciplines we see inside the cage. The most dominant champions have used a mix of these techniques so I don't see the sport evolving into new disciplines unless the rules are significantly changed to give that martial arts an advantage.

    In the early days we saw for example guys who would throw knees to the head of an opponent in side control or north/south position. Some would even use headbutts like Mark Kerr. When these rules permitting their use were taken away the fighters toolbox was less full and their ability to finish fights as quickly changed as well.

    The guys coming into the sport today are breaking up their training to focus on three main disciples, strking, grappling and jujitsu. So in ten years time, most athletes competing will be less one dimensional.

    • @enjoylife321,

      It's interesting you mention headbutts – the quickest way to nullify a style is a headbutt. I was once helping out a guy in my local fitness centre (no martial arts just weights and cardio) with some basic grapping, He said he had never trained grappling before and would like to roll wiith me to find out if he liked it.

      I told him that I'm not very good at grappling but I would show him what I know. I'm a very courteous person and would never dream of bullying or deliberately hurting a person. Anyhow as I started to roll with this guy, it soon became apparent that he had been training BJJ as he tried to rip my arm off with an arm bar…

      I managed to turn in to the arm bar and we went through a series of transitions… this guy was obviously out to hurt me…. so as soon as I had the opportunity I landed a couple of well practiced head butts – all of a sudden he wanted to be friends….

      The moral of the story – Knowing MMA doesn't make a person a fighter and treating a person with respect doesn't make you weak. I explained this to the guy as I helped him up.

      • Its always hard to keep composed when a guy starts landing clean shots as you are going for a submission. Head stomps, knees and headbutts was a game changer back in the day.

  • There are a few martial arts worth considering for incorporation.

    Kendo – mma with wooden swords would be nothing short of amazing. It would give a whole new dimension to "closing the distance".
    – Furthermore, just imagine the new Kendo mma fights were introduced with a tag team theme.

    Tai Chi MMA – One way to see who has the best moves would be to slow them down so fans who don't know what they are looking for could get to see everything. Tai Chi mma… this could be a great way to bring back people who still like to fight but are unable to truly compete – like Ken Shamrock.

    Silat MMA – Silat is an absolutely vicious and deadly martial art which incorporates knives… I'm sure that Dana White would love to bring back Frank Shamrock and Randy Couture… so people could see these fighters stabbed in the back one more time.

    Shaolin Kung Fu – There are many forms of this kung fu, so lets focus on the style which is designed to dismount horseriders with kicks. Can you imagine the carnage in the octogon as bandits on horses ride around doing their best to rob the noble holy men of their treasure.

    And last but no least – Wing Chun MMA – For those of us who have spent a considerable part of our lives evolving as mixed martial artists – finding what works and discarding the rest… can you imagine the joy we would feel as we brutalized all those people who have taken most things which dont work and taught it to people who have suffered a beating as a result of it not working.

    Have I missed anything out or are you happy with the additions?