MMA is one of the toughest sports in the world to succeed in. Some fighters with undoubted ability are struggling to break past the local circuits; likewise, when assessing the division’s in the UFC, the array of talent on show makes it tough for up and comers to get to the very top. Even massive names like Nick Diaz didn’t have it easy rising up the ranks in what is one of the most unforgiving and brutal sports on the planet.
The “world-class” fighters generally stand out from the crowd, though. Over the years, we have certainly been treated to a few of them. That’s not to say that making it into the ranks of the UFC suddenly merits the distinction of being a world-class fighter, though. You have to prove yourself to earn such a label.
The likes of Anderson Silva, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, and Georges St. Pierre have illustrated on numerous occasions what needs to be done to earn such recognition, but how did they get there? What ingredients did these esteemed fighters have which made them perform at the highest level on such a consistent basis?
First of all, talent certainly helps. The most talented fighters don’t always succeed still. Attitude and application need to be on point, too. As featured in this expert UFC betting guide by Jeff Fox, 66% of MMA fights go to the betting favourite. The reason that specific fighter is the betting favourite is not solely down to ability but also consistency and all-around reliability.
As well as mastering all aspects of the sport, from stand-up striking to submission grappling, the fighters of this world must maintain a belief and confidence that can see them reign supreme in any fight. Should defeat come, then fighters need to learn and grow once again, potentially adding new skills into the mix and embodying the all-around ideals of a complete mixed martial artist. MMA veteran Dan Henderson is the perfect example of this, adding more disciplines to his arsenal as he progressed.
Deep experience and a refined pedigree
Most world-class operators have vast experience within the sport, too. They have gone through most challenges fighters face and can handle most waves of attack which come their way. With experience comes increased knowledge, therefore enabling fighters like Anderson Silva to find the tools needed to succeed in specific fights. This is highlighted in the varying ways in which Silva – and a whole host of others – has managed to secure victory in the past. A model professional should always be willing to learn, with refining the art of MMA never being viewed as a finished exercise. In fact, most of the best fighters will tell you that they never stopped learning.
Mental focus required
Despite his softly spoken voice and mild-mannered appearance, Fedor Emelianenko is most peoples’ favourite ever heavyweight fighter. Emelianenko is a brutal force once he steps into an MMA tear up, but he never looks rattled.
In fact, his calm demeanour highlights exactly why he is one of the greatest. Barely rattled and always focused on what he needs to do to win the fight, Emelianenkolets his skills do the talking. The best do.
Evolve with the sport
As with most sports, evolution occurs as time progresses. New tactics might emerge or Kyokushin karate masters might suddenly start taking the sport by storm. With that in mind, all world-class fighters must always illustrate a willingness to evolve alongside the sport. For example, Georges St-Pierre was the definition of an ever-adapting athlete, eventually adding wrestling and tactical boxing to his skillset as he grew. The best fighters don’t stand still and are always looking to hone their craft and make sure they remain among the elite.