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Sharing the BJJ Mats with MMA Fighters: Good, Bad or Ugly?

I am not talking MMA hacks or hobbyists. I am talking MMA fighters that are well rounded and serious about their trade. Most people will attend class and do their best to blend in. The MMA fighter, on the other hand, brings a different skill set and attitude to a BJJ class. This fighter wants to learn BJJ for fight, not sport. I teach in a gym that has amateur and pro fighters attending regular BJJ classes. The mix keeps things honest and forces me to keep my BJJ practical for sport and street. Personally, I like it and I feel that all students benefit from this type of learning environment.

5 things to keep in mind when MMA fighters are in your class:

1. MMA fighters don’t follow IBJJF rules – watch your neck and legs folks!

2. Expect explosive burst from MMA fighters. Fighters use speed and power as tools to pass or escape. Be ready for it…  It’s an excellent way to refine your BJJ for the street.

3. MMA fighters are often very athletic and often come from athletic backgrounds. They don’t gas – be ready for a long rounds.

4. MMA fighters may not know the latest sweep but they bring a no bullshit approach to training. They don’t allow themselves to flop to guard and they try and stay on top so BJJ hobbyists are going to really need to work on their guard sweeps when training with MMA fighters.

5. MMA fighters have solid wrestling skills and they may invite you to train takedowns. Pulling guard is not going to fly here. You’re going to have to work your takedowns or your takedown defence when training with them.

BJJ hobbyists can definitely benefit from these tough, durable, and well conditioned training partners to help round off their BJJ skills. I’ve found that the BJJ hobbyists and MMA fighters training at my gym have a mutual respect for each others training goals and have developed good friendships.

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