why are there less submission holds in mma

why are there less submission holds in mma

Submission holds are a crucial aspect of mixed martial arts (MMA), allowing fighters to force their opponents into submission and end the fight. However, in recent years, there has been a noticeable decrease in the use of submission holds in MMA. This article aims to explore the various reasons behind this decline.

Evolution of Striking Techniques

One reason for the decrease in submission holds is the evolution of striking techniques in MMA. Fighters have become more proficient in striking, leading to a greater emphasis on knockout victories. As a result, fighters may prioritize striking over grappling, reducing the frequency of submission holds in fights.

Furthermore, the advancement of defensive techniques, such as improved head movement, footwork, and takedown defense, makes it more challenging for fighters to secure submission holds. This increased defensive skillset forces fighters to focus on alternative strategies to secure a victory.

Shorter Fight Duration

MMA fights have become shorter in duration compared to the early days of the sport. With the introduction of rounds and time limits, fighters have less time to work on securing submission holds. This time constraint often leads to a more aggressive and fast-paced fighting style, with fighters opting for quick knockouts or ground-and-pound techniques instead of prolonged grappling exchanges.

Increased Athleticism

The level of athleticism in modern MMA has risen significantly. Fighters are now stronger, faster, and more agile than ever before. This increased athleticism allows fighters to escape submission attempts more effectively and resist the application of submission holds. As a result, fighters may be less inclined to rely on submission holds as their primary strategy.

Strategic Considerations

Fighters and their coaches often develop specific game plans tailored to their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. If a fighter possesses exceptional grappling skills, opponents may choose to focus on avoiding grappling exchanges altogether. This strategic consideration can lead to a decrease in the number of submission holds attempted during a fight.

Additionally, fighters may be more cautious about attempting submission holds against opponents known for their submission defense skills. The fear of being countered or losing a dominant position can discourage fighters from attempting submission holds, further contributing to their decline in MMA.

Rule Changes and Scoring Criteria

The evolution of rules and scoring criteria in MMA has also impacted the frequency of submission holds. Some rule changes, such as the prohibition of certain submission techniques, have limited the variety of submission holds available to fighters. Moreover, the scoring criteria often favor striking and effective aggression, incentivizing fighters to prioritize striking techniques over submission attempts in order to secure a victory on the judges’ scorecards.

Training Shifts

Over time, the focus of MMA training has shifted towards a more well-rounded approach. Fighters now spend significant time developing skills in striking, wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, among other disciplines. While this broader training approach enhances overall fighting ability, it may result in less emphasis on mastering submission holds specifically.

why are there less submission holds in mma

Injury Risks

The application of submission holds carries a higher risk of injury compared to striking techniques. Fighters may be more cautious about attempting submission holds, particularly in high-stakes fights, to avoid potential injuries that could hinder their future performances. This concern for self-preservation could contribute to the decrease in submission holds in MMA.


Several factors contribute to the decline in the use of submission holds in MMA. The evolution of striking techniques, shorter fight durations, increased athleticism, strategic considerations, rule changes, training shifts, and injury risks all play a role in shaping the current landscape of MMA. While submission holds remain an integral part of the sport, their reduced frequency highlights the dynamic nature of MMA and the constant evolution of fighting strategies.

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