Charles Darwin created the theory of natural selection.
In most sports, the goal is relatively simple: get the ball to a certain point on the field and stop the other team from doing the same. Even in boxing, both fighters are looking for the knockout or the decision. The paths to achieve these goals in any competition may vary and may be complex, but the each team will forever be aware of what the other team is ultimately trying to accomplish.
Unlike football or basketball, a victory can come in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in a variety of ways, from a knockout, or a submission, or a cut, or a decision, or a referee stoppage. With a more open-ended environment, fighters can specialize, developing strategies and skills that suit their preferences and circumstances. In Origin of Species, Charles Darwin postulated that creatures are forever perfecting their ability to occupy a niche by constantly adapting, adjusting, and strengthening their survival strategies. The modern MMA fighter is undergoing the exact same process.
Today, a striker sprawling to defend takedowns and avoiding submissions on the ground is not uncommon. Yet, in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship boxers and kick boxers alike had no answer for the ground game, quickly falling victim to superior positioning and grappling technique. For a stand-up fighter to continue specializing in striking in an MMA environment, he had to adapt.
The consequences of a boxer learning to defend the ground game resonate far beyond any single fight and make up the core of what makes Mixed Martial Arts such a gripping sport: every fighter is evolving and improving, raising the bar at an almost unfathomable rate. Though the sport is in a constant state of fluidity, we can use Darwin’s ideas to better understand where the sport has been and use that knowledge to predict where it is going.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu, the grappling art that dominated strikers both in and out of the cage, was developed as a response to size and brute strength. Rather than risk being punched, a Gracie Jiu Jitsu practitioner seeks to initiate a clinch, execute a takedown, and apply a submission. This strategy was developed as a response to the dominance of striking power often seen in street fights. Essentially, striking sparked an evolution in grappling. Later, the superiority of grappling inspired an evolution in striking. This process is known to naturalists as co-evolution: two species continually competing against each other perpetually adapt to each other’s adaptations, allowing them to evolve indefinitely.
Recently, fighters known primarily for their grappling ability, like Spencer Fisher and Matt Serra, have displayed surprisingly effective striking skills. It would seem that the grapplers have begun to adapt yet again. With grapplers learning striking and strikers learning grappling one might mistakenly think that every fighter is progressing towards a uniform skill set. Fighters are feverishly training every aspect of the game, yes, but as long as they remain human they will have preferences, which mean unique styles. The old distinction of grappler and striker may disappear, but that’s only because they have evolved into new species all together.
Evolution is what makes MMA the most exciting sport in the world. If fighters and their skills were static, the sport would stagnate. The continual advancement of skills and strategy makes every fight a new experience, an exploration into uncharted territory. A fight is truly survival of the fittest, and with so many talented athletes vying to be the top of the food chain, we are guaranteed an infinite amount of spectacular matches no matter what direction evolution takes.
Charles Darwin Loves Mixed Martial Arts - Marshal Carper - www.LockFlow.com