Chael Sonnen On The Number One Mistake Wrestlers Make When Transitioning to MMA

Chael Sonnen On The Number One Mistake Wrestlers Make When Transitioning to MMA

Making a transition from any martial art and combat sport to MMA is not an easy task in the slightest, as it carries many variables that need to be taken into account in order for it to be successful! It’s the same thing with wrestling – especially with one crucial thing, that if left out could actually lead to wrestlers being worse-off than when they focused solely on wrestling.

Chael Sonnen shares his view on this big mistake.


The culprit of this mistake, Chael elaborates, lays in the excitement that many wrestlers feel when they make a transition into MMA. Quite simply, they get very enthusiastic about the new techniques they’re exposed to and that they can learn!
This excitement is magnified even more so because wrestlers – as is often the case with those ones who have been training for many years – probably haven’t done any truly new techniques for a while. In other words: they haven’t learned new things for quite a bit of time! It is very likely that all they’ve done, for quite a bit of time, has been about polishing and improving their already learned techniques.

In other terms, think of it like this: imagine that you have been doing the same thing every day for the past 3 years. Even though you are getting better at it, it gets repetitive… But then, you’re suddenly exposed to the novelty of some new thing! You just cannot keep your mind off of it and you want to practice it more and more.


What this means is that wrestlers feel rejuvenated and thrilled about their rapidly increasing skill levels! And that is a good thing, right? Getting excited about something and practicing it more leads to an all-around improvement, doesn’t it?
Well, not exactly, Chael explains. While more practice in striking, ground techniques and other skills does lead to a better all-around game, it oftentimes leads to a drop in wrestler’s skill levels in his primary art… In wrestling! Most importantly, as Chael elaborates, it leads to a decrease in the ability to reshoot; an ability which is of fundamental importance – as it is not the first and often not even the second shot you make that takes down your opponent, but the third or latter ones that do! What this will lead to in an actual MMA match, Chael goes on to explain, is that a wrestler will make a shot and then will be unable to make those vital, following reshots afterwards!

So, Chael emphasizes, the number one thing a wrestler will lose if they don’t wrestle regularly enough when they transition to MMA is the reshot. In other words, when the wrestler doesn’t stay focused on their ability to scramble, on the ability to chain-wrestle – to go from one thing to another, to another and then yet to another… When they don’t keep up their wrestling training on the same level that it was at beforehand, they’re loosing their previously acquired wrestling tool set.
This tool is not the same as riding a bicycle, which is learned once and that’s that – but it needs to be practiced on a very regular basis, sharpened continuously.

Watch the video below to hear Chael speak about this more in detail, and to hear some of the examples he has to mention: