It’s safe to say that the key to being a great fighter in the popular sport of Mixed Martial Arts is being able to master and blend various striking and ground fighting martial arts together successfully in the ring or cage. After all, some of the sport’s most revered champions like Georges St. Pierre and Demetrious Johnson, have dominated their competition time and time again because of this.
However, there have also been a great number of fighters who are so good at their base martial art that they hardly have to resort anything else!
Today, Evolve Daily presents 5 MMA Fighters Who Used Their Base Martial Art Better Than Anyone Else In The Game:
1) Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke – Muay Thai
The ancient art of Muay Thai is widely regarded as the most effective striking-based martial art for MMA. Many champions and legends like Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo have gained their popularity due to their exceptional use of the art.
Yet, most Muay Thai practitioners and experts alike would agree that even fighters like Silva and Aldo do not truly represent Muay Thai in its truest form. And although there have been a couple of nak muays in MMA in the past, such as Rambaa Somdet and Malaipet Sasiprapa, none of them have truly been able to adapt the art to the MMA cage while still maintaining its authentic style and form.
However, that all changed when decorated Muay Thai world champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke stepped into the ONE Championship cage back in 2014. The now 37-year-old Thai fighter was the first ever three-time Lumpinee Stadium Champion to transition into MMA. And he wasted no time in showing the MMA world what real Muay Thai looked like, utilizing the art of eight limbs to perfection and claiming the ONE Championship Strawweight Title in just five dominant fights.
2) Shinya Aoki – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
The sport of MMA is filled with many elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners like Damien Maia, top UFC middleweight contender Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, ONE Championship Bantamweight Champion Bibiano Fernandes, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum, ONE Light Heavyweight World Champion Roger Gracie, and more.
And while many of these fighters have already earned unprecedented accomplishments in the world of BJJ even before they stepped into MMA, none of them have been able to pull off the kind of submissions ONE Championship Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki has in his MMA career.
Aoki is without a doubt one of the greatest submission artists in all of MMA past and present. He has perhaps the most versatile submission record in MMA to date, with all kinds of locks and holds, in a total of 25 submission wins and a phenomenal 66% submission finish rate. From hammerlocks and gogoplatas to his personal favourite, the twister lock — there’s certainly no questioning Aoki’s status as one of the most exciting grapplers to watch in MMA.
3) Holly Holm – Boxing
Fight fans have yet to see many prominent boxers jump over from the sweet science into the world of MMA, most likely due to the fact that there is still more money in Boxing compared to other combat sports. Still, many top stars in MMA like current UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic, Junior Dos Santos, and Fabio Maldanado have relied heavily on boxing to get to where they’re at today.
But none of these boxing-based MMA fighters have been able to use the sweet science quite like former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and former 18-time boxing world champion, Holly Holm. Holm’s ability to apply the mastery of range and timing she had as a boxer into her overall striking game in MMA is what makes her the most successful boxer in the sport today. And her outstanding performance against one of history’s most dominant female fighters, Ronda Rousey, is proof of that.
4) Ben Askren – Wrestling
Like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the sport of MMA is packed with remarkable wrestlers; from NCAA division Champions to world champions and even Olympic gold medalists. Some of the most notable and accomplished wrestlers in MMA include current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and former Olympian Daniel Cormier, Olympic Gold medalist Henry Cejudo and Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero.
But of all of them, One Championship Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren remains the most dominant pure wrestler in the sport. Askren’s signature “funky” style, the same one that made him a four-time NCAA All-American, two-time national champion, and 2008 Olympian, is what makes him so effective in the cage. Askren has been able to out-wrestle and wear down almost every opponent he has faced thus far. And it’s not hard to see why; his relentless pressure and ability to scramble effectively on the ground is unmatched in MMA.
5) Cung Le – Sanshou (Wushu/Sanda)
China is widely recognized as the birthplace of martial arts, mainly ancient martial arts like Kung Fu. Sanshou or Wushu/Sanda is a combat sport developed based on traditional Kung Fu and modern combat fighting technique. It includes mainly punches, kicks, throws, and sweeps; making it one of the best striking-based martial arts for an MMA fighter. Yet there haven’t been many Sanshou or Wushu/Sanda practitioners to break into MMA.
The most prominent practitioner of the art to date is undefeated Sanshou World Champion and former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, Cung Le. Le was one of the first Sanshou fighters to break into MMA and remains the only one to successfully retain the style of the art in MMA; utilizing spinning kicks, back fists, and sweeps to full effect. It’s no wonder why he’s still considered to be one of the most entertaining strikers on the planet.
What these fighters lack in their overall MMA game, they definitely make up for in their remarkable skills in their base martial arts. Their ability to adapt their respective martial arts into an MMA environment better than anyone else have made them some of the most dominant and exciting fighters in the sport.