ADCC silver medalist Craig Jones recently submitted UFC Middleweight Gerald Meerschaert in less than 2 minutes in a grappling superfight.
What does that mean?
As an avid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, you’ve honed your craft and worked tirelessly to achieve your grappling skills. You’ve competed at the highest levels, even besting professional MMA fighters in grappling matches. While these accomplishments are admirable and a testament to your skill, it’s important not to let ego and overconfidence cloud your judgment.
Dominating Pro MMA fighters on the grappling mats means little when transitioning to the cage. The harsh reality is that your jiu-jitsu pedigree and competition record will not save you from getting knocked out on the feet or on the ground by an MMA fighter.
Your jiu-jitsu expertise is but one dimension of a multi-faceted MMA game that requires mastery to reach the top.
Beating Pros in Jiu-Jitsu Is Irrelevant to MMA
As a practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, dominating professional MMA fighters in a jiu-jitsu match means very little in the context of a MMA fight. While jiu-jitsu is a key component of MMA, there are various other disciplines – such as striking, wrestling, and muay thai – that are equally significant. excelling in jiu-jitsu alone does not translate to MMA success.
In an MMA match, there are more variables to account for than in a jiu-jitsu match. You must worry about defending punches, kicks, elbows and knees – not just grappling. The rules, timing, strategies and techniques differ greatly between the two sports. What works in a jiu-jitsu match may be useless or even dangerous in an MMA fight. For example, pulling guard in an MMA match leaves you open to devastating strikes.
Simply put, beating an MMA fighter in a jiu-jitsu match proves your skills in that ruleset alone. To beat them in an MMA fight, you need a well-rounded skillset in all areas of MMA – not just in one discipline like jiu-jitsu. You must train extensively in striking, wrestling, and other arts. You must understand how to blend them together and make split-second decisions under pressure. Dominating in one area is not enough.
Do not let success in jiu-jitsu delude you into thinking you can easily defeat a professional MMA fighter in a real fight. Beating them in a jiu-jitsu match means next to nothing. To succeed in MMA, diversify your training, expand your skillset and develop a strategic, well-rounded mindset. Only then will you have a chance at overcoming a seasoned pro.
While tapping out higher ranked opponents on the mats may inflate your ego, do not let it delude you into thinking you would fare as well in a real fight. The rules and dynamics of MMA are vastly different from sport jiu-jitsu. As accomplished as you are in your art, there are many other aspects involved in a mixed martial arts bout that require skills you likely have not developed. Do not confuse besting seasoned grapplers in a jiu-jitsu match with being able to defeat professional fighters in the cage. Keep your ego in check, stay humble, and remember there is still much to learn on the path to becoming a complete mixed martial artist. Dominating on the mats means little when punches are allowed and slams are legal. Keep training, check your ego, and do not make the mistake of underestimating what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of MMA.
BJJ black belt Gile Huni trains many MMA fighters and he stated the following:
“For my Jiu-Jitsu people that roll with pro MMA fighters, please realize that submitting them in a grappling training doesn’t mean jack sh*t in a real fight. Add elbows, punches & kicks, even the GOAT Roger Gracie said that 80% of our regular Jiu-Jitsu moves go out the window.
Bjj is amazing, fun, great for self defense, its safe & great for recreational practitioners but MMA is the ultimate combat sport. You have to enjoy getting punched in the face though.
Don’t ever forget that. Every time a BJJ guy gets elbowed on the ground his skill level goes down a level, that’s why you have blue belts submitting black belts in a MMA fight. I train with and have cornered pro MMA fighters and I can tell you the guy in the bjj training room who taps to pressure, once he is in the cage on fight day, is a frigging tiger that’s ready to destroy his opponent with brutal strikes & I would hate to fight him.”