why is wrestling so dominant in mma

why is wrestling so dominant in mma

Wrestling has long been recognized as a dominant discipline in mixed martial arts (MMA). This article aims to explore the reasons behind wrestling’s prominence in MMA from various perspectives. From its emphasis on takedowns and control to the physical and mental attributes it develops, wrestling provides fighters with a solid foundation for success in the octagon.

1. Takedowns and Control

why is wrestling so dominant in mma

One of the primary reasons for wrestling’s dominance in MMA is its focus on takedowns and control. Wrestlers are adept at securing takedowns, enabling them to dictate where the fight takes place. Once on the ground, wrestlers excel at maintaining control, neutralizing their opponents’ attacks, and setting up their own offensive maneuvers.

Furthermore, wrestlers’ ability to control their opponents on the ground allows them to dictate the pace of the fight and conserve energy, giving them a significant advantage over opponents who lack wrestling skills.

2. Ground Game Mastery

Wrestlers often possess exceptional skills in the ground game, which is a crucial aspect of MMA. Their wrestling background provides them with a solid foundation in grappling, allowing them to execute submissions, maintain dominant positions, and escape from dangerous situations on the ground.

Wrestlers’ understanding of body positioning and leverage gives them an edge when transitioning between different grappling techniques, making them formidable opponents in close-quarters combat.

3. Conditioning and Strength

Wrestlers are renowned for their exceptional conditioning and strength. The rigorous training involved in wrestling develops their endurance, explosiveness, and overall physical fitness. This conditioning allows wrestlers to maintain a high pace throughout the fight, making it challenging for opponents to keep up.

Additionally, the strength gained from wrestling helps fighters overpower their opponents, control them on the ground, and execute powerful strikes. The combination of superior conditioning and strength gives wrestlers an advantage in both stand-up exchanges and grappling scenarios.

4. Mental Toughness

Wrestling instills mental toughness in its practitioners. The demanding nature of the sport requires wrestlers to develop resilience, discipline, and perseverance. These mental attributes are invaluable in the high-pressure environment of MMA, where fighters must face adversity and make split-second decisions.

Wrestlers’ ability to stay composed and focused during intense moments can often be the determining factor in their success inside the cage, allowing them to withstand punishment, maintain a strategic approach, and execute their game plan effectively.

5. Transferable Skills

Many wrestling techniques and principles seamlessly translate into MMA. The footwork, balance, and body awareness developed in wrestling contribute to fighters’ overall agility and ability to evade strikes. Wrestlers’ familiarity with clinching and controlling opponents also carries over into the cage, giving them an advantage in close-quarters combat.

Moreover, wrestlers’ experience in dealing with physical contact and the mental pressure of competing prepares them well for the challenges of MMA, making their transition to the sport relatively smoother compared to fighters from other disciplines.

6. Strong Wrestling Community

The wrestling community boasts a strong support system that nurtures and develops talent. Wrestlers often train together, sharing techniques, strategies, and experiences. This camaraderie fosters a competitive environment that pushes athletes to continually improve.

Furthermore, the presence of successful wrestlers in the MMA world serves as inspiration for aspiring fighters, motivating them to pursue a career in MMA and further strengthening the dominance of wrestling in the sport.

7. College Wrestling Programs

Collegiate wrestling programs in the United States have played a significant role in producing top-tier MMA fighters. These programs provide athletes with high-level coaching, access to state-of-the-art training facilities, and opportunities to compete against other elite wrestlers.

The skills and experience gained from collegiate wrestling create a solid foundation for fighters looking to transition into MMA, giving them a competitive edge over opponents who may not have received the same level of training and exposure.

8. Historical Success

Wrestlers’ historical success in MMA further solidifies the dominance of wrestling in the sport. Many past and present champions, such as Georges St-Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Daniel Cormier, have extensive wrestling backgrounds.

These champions have showcased the effectiveness of wrestling in MMA, inspiring future generations of fighters to pursue the discipline and perpetuating its dominance in the sport.


Wrestling’s dominance in MMA can be attributed to its emphasis on takedowns and control, mastery of the ground game, conditioning and strength, mental toughness, transferable skills, a strong wrestling community, collegiate wrestling programs, and historical success. These factors combine to make wrestlers formidable opponents inside the octagon, ensuring that wrestling will continue to play a prominent role in the world of MMA.

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