Now with the Arab MMA scene getting bigger, the interest in becoming an MMA fighter is building up among martial arts sport men in the Arab world. But what they don’t know is that becoming an MMA fighter is not an easy task to handle.
As an MMA fan, I couldn’t but notice the lack of lots of elements within the MMA fighters from the Arab the world; I am not generalizing, as there are few fighters who are working in a real professional way. Yet the majority lacks the knowledge of how to train and evolve as an MMA fighter.
Strength, cardio and conditioning: As I had the pleasure to watch the last desert force edition in Dubai from the stands, I noticed that only 3 or 4 fighters had real good cardio and were physically well prepared, they were Hamzah Nafush, Aziz Julaidan, Tarek Suleiman and Anas Siraj Mounir. From that I can understand that these fighters have worked with a team of professionals during their training camps. But most of the other fighters, especially the ones who went the distance in their fight, really lacked cardio, strength and conditioning as they faded away by each minute passing from their fights. It’s really important that the fighters have a good program to build up their strength and conditioning add to that the cardio. Working with a specialized trainer for this purpose is really important for a fighter, and from what I know, most trainers in the Arab world tend to teach everything to their fighter-most probably for loyalty reasons- which in my opinion is wrong. So for boxing have your boxing trainer work on this aspect, wrestling the same thing, as is for strength and conditioning and so on, then it’s up to your MMA coach to put things together for you and come up with the perfect game plan for his fighter.
Cross training: Being a one dimensional fighter and having a big heart is not enough for you to step into the cage or the ring, I noticed that couple of the Egyptian MMA fighters were one dimensional fighter, and they were strikers, with little to non ground game. They should start to understand that this type of sport is combined of striking, wrestling and submission. And as I mentioned before, it’s better to train with a specialized trainer for each of Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling and BJJ. And try to adapt all which is learned into MMA, which is done through a good MMA trainer who understands how things work in MMA. One good example of cross training, is Nouriddine Issam from Sudan, he started as a Tae Kwon Do guy in his first fight, then to a better rounded fighter in his second appearing in Dubai, were he came into the fight with some added arsenal in his take downs and wrestling, which eventually led him to win a unanimous decision against his opponent.
Greco roman wrestling: the form of wrestling which is not used much in the Arab MMA scene, most if not all fighters tend to get their take downs with a double or a single leg take down! This is becoming easy to defend as fighters are working on their take down defenses. There is a lot of clinch work in MMA, it’s really important to work your upper body take downs that is Greco Roman wrestling take downs.
Dirty boxing: something else I noticed was the lack of dirty boxing from the clinch at the fence, as fighters only worked to maintain position or transition to a takedown. Team Quest were one of the best teams that implemented dirty boxing from the clinch, another example is Josh Barnett as you can see in his last fight against Frank Mir. Conclusion: So to sum up all what I discussed earlier, an MMA fighter should work on- and this is my opinion- boxing, Greco roman and freestyle wrestling, Muay Thai and Bjj as his fighting arsenal, then have a good strength and conditioning coach, add to that cardio, and a good nutritionist that will work on what to feed your body.