One of the most common reasons people take up martial arts is to learn self-defense. The ability to protect ourselves and those around us from physical threats is a basic human right that everyone should have access to.
Some of the biggest names in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) have been known to use their skills for the greater good. It’s not just for show, after all, and these guys don’t just fight for applause, they fight for a cause too.
There’s a certain level of comfort in knowing that MMA fighters don’t just use their gifts for our entertainment. It’s functional as well, and there have been a handful of instances when martial arts actually came in handy in real life situations.
In some cases, MMA fighters have even been known to use their skills to stop criminals in the act. Talk about real-life superheroes, these gifted individuals used their powers to do good and protect themselves as well as those around them.
Today, Evolve Daily shares the story of four MMA stars who used their skills to fight crime.
1) Jon Jones
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones has had his fair share of trouble with the law, but there was a time when he was on the good side of it.
At UFC 128, Jones was scheduled to face Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the light heavyweight title — his first ever title shot in the UFC. On fight day in Newark, New Jersey, Jones along with legendary coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn went to a nearby park to relax and get away from the chaos of the event, just before the biggest fight of his career at the time.
But before they even stepped out of the car, a robber broke through a nearby elderly couple’s car window, stole their stuff and took off running. Jackson and Winkeljohn instantly went after the perp, but to their surprise, Jones blitzed past them both and was able to catch up to the thief who tripped over his own foot.
Jones’ coaches yelled at him to stay away to prevent injury, and they immediately took over the situation, subduing the criminal with an armlock while Jones slapped a figure-four on his legs until the police arrived. Later that evening, Jones would stop Rua via third-round knockout to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
2) Renzo Gracie
The legendary Renzo Gracie of the famous Gracie fighting family is without a doubt a legend, not just in MMA, but in martial arts as a whole. You would think that if robbers would ever try to mug a guy, they would never pick Renzo. Everybody knows Renzo. But when he sensed that two men were about to rob him one night in New York, Renzo responded with force.
Renzo had just left a bistro in Manhattan at around 3 am in September of 2012, when he noticed he was being followed. In true Renzo Gracie fashion, the MMA superstar took the opportunity to make a show out of it and began posting live tweets on Twitter about what was happening, telling everyone he was going to teach these two guys a lesson.
The two criminals then got closer to Renzo, blocked him, and tried to ask for a cigarette. One then tried to grab him by the arm, while the other reached for Renzo’s wallet in his jacket pocket. Renzo instantly retaliated and knocked one of the guys out cold. His partner fled the crime scene almost immediately.
After subduing one of the muggers and posting a photo of him on Twitter, Renzo went looking for his friend whom he found at a nearby street corner. The BJJ black belt sneaked up behind the criminal and choked him out.
“Jiu-Jitsu — never leave home without it,” Gracie Tweeted.
3) Monique Bastos
Little-known female MMA fighter Monique Bastos is a strawweight who competed largely for Jungle Fight and Bellator during her career. Her MMA career may not be as noteworthy as others on this list, but one evening, Bastos was able to prove just how martial arts could come in handy in some scary situations.
When two thugs in Brazil tried to rob her in 2015, Bastos took matters into her own hands. On the way to training, two thieves on motorcycles approached her and a couple of friends. They cornered Bastos and her friends, demanding for their personal belongings, mobile phones, and cash.
After Bastos noticed that the two thieves weren’t armed, she decided to teach them a lesson. Kicking one of the motorbikes over, Bastos rushed one of the criminals, swiftly took his back and latched on a rear-naked choke as his partner fled in panic.
Bastos quickly transitioned into a more secure triangle choke, holding the submission for nearly 15 minutes until police arrived to diffuse the situation and catch the thief. It was all caught on camera and became a viral social media sensation by the next day.
The perpetrator, named Wesley Sousa de Araujo, was seen crying and begging for mercy, calling out to his parents as he was caught in Bastos’ tight triangle.
4) Nick Ring
In 2012, UFC middleweight Nick “The Promise” Ring was leaving a Starbucks in Calgary when he saw a gang of adolescents harassing a couple and stealing a girl’s backpack.
According to the UFC fighter, the poor girl had her hair pulled and was taking knees to the head, while her boyfriend was being held down and beaten up.
Ring immediately responded to the crime scene, and after checking on the couple to see if they were okay, chased down the thugs, and used his martial arts skills to subdue them until authorities arrived.
“I felt the need to do something because it needed to be done,” said Ring.
“There was nobody else there to help and those two were in trouble. It was as simple as that. It was a disgusting, cowardly act I was watching and I couldn’t let it continue. It had to stop. I’m not going to let anything like that happen if I’ve got anything to say about it. Not a chance.”