Discussion What is holding us back from becoming an MMA powerhouse?

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GC2015

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Recent results suggest MMA in Australia and New Zealand is seriously on the incline but why has it taken so long and is there anything holding us back from becoming a powerhouse region like Brazil? Some would probably say a lack of wrestling/grappling culture (historically speaking) in the Oceanic region is the main problem because we've always had phenomenal strikers in boxing, kickboxing and even muay thai to a degree. I don't believe striking is an issue for us; in fact I believe striking is an area we outperform most of the world in when it comes to MMA.

Is it a coincidence that the two Australians to capture UFC gold both happen to be national wrestling champions? Whittaker claimed the 97kg gold medal in 2017 and later qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games while Alex was a national champion in the 62kg division in 2001 as a 12 year old. Then you see a high quality striker like Tuivasa making waves in the UFC but eventually getting exposed for his lack of wrestling/grappling ability in his last three fights, which were all losses. Adesanya is probably the exception to the rule but you can see his wrestling/takedown defence is getting immensely better with each fight and he's just a physical specimen that you very rarely see and it's probably really unfair to use him as a counterargument because 98% of the world couldn't do what he's done.

So, is substandard wrestling/grappling our downfall or do you guys have a differing opinion on what's happening?
 

the PILL

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Wrestling pedigree definitely... Something something collegiate transitional culture etc or a firm understanding that one must be at least very proficient in defending it to reign or stimulate striking attributes...
 

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Gigantic

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You'll notice a large portion of the mid-tier / gate-keeper level fighters in the UFC were college wrestlers who turned to MMA. Unless you've got decent wrestling, you'll struggle to move up the ranks when you're facing guys who have wrestled their whole life more often than not.
 

GC2015

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Wrestling pedigree definitely... Something something collegiate transitional culture etc or a firm understanding that one must be at least very proficient in defending it to reign or stimulate striking attributes...
I reckon you're right. Most of our fighters didn't learn any wrestling until they were adults, whereas the USA has a strong wrestling culture where it's taught in high schools.
Joe Rogan often talks about how most current UFC champions come from some form of wrestling background:

Heavyweight: Stipe Miocic - NCAA Div I Wrestler (Cleveland State University)
Light Heavyweight: Jon Jones - State High School Wrestling Champion (New York)
Middleweight: Israel Adesanya - No wrestling background growing up
Welterweight: Kamaru Usman - NCAA Div II National Champion Wrestler (University of Nebraska)
Lightweight: Khabib Nurmagomedov - Wrestling/Judo/Sambo background (Russia)
Featherweight: Alexander Volkanovski - National Wrestling Champion (Australia U13)
Bantamweight/Flyweight: Henry Cejudo - 2008 Olympic Wrestling Gold Medalist
Women's Featherweight/Bantamweight: Amanda Nunes - BJJ background (Brazil)
Women's Flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko - Judo black belt (Kyrgyzstan)
Women's Strawweight: Zhang Weili - Shuai Jiao/BJJ background (China)


Look at the way the Nunes vs de Randamie fight played out last weekend. Nunes seemed willing to engage in striking at the beginning of the fight until de Randamie landed a few dangerous strikes on her and that's when Nunes adjusted her game plan and completely controlled her on the ground with her superior wrestling. It's the exact same way Nurmagomedov beat McGregor. Miocic v Ngannou is another example. They don't allow the superior striker to get on top of them on their feet and if it looks like the fight is heading that way, they'll bring it to the ground where they can control what happens and essentially remove any danger from the fight. Then there are other situations where both fighters are extremely accomplished wrestlers and they just try to out strike each other on their feet like what we saw in the Usman v Covington fight.

It's pretty obvious our wrestling is letting us down. We essentially need high level junior wrestlers like Volkanovski to take up MMA later in life to even have a chance of competing with the Americans/Brazilians/Russians at the highest level.
 

NonPhixion

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Ok can I please just say Tuivasa is not a high level striker at all. He’s just a big guy that packs a punch.
Enigma is right re wrestling culture in USA being a lot bigger than here. Australia would have world class training programs & sport scientists that are at the top of the game. My gym is a pretty serious MMA academy & it’s pretty damn expensive lol.
 

GC2015

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Ok can I please just say Tuivasa is not a high level striker at all. He’s just a big guy that packs a punch.
Enigma is right re wrestling culture in USA being a lot bigger than here. Australia would have world class training programs & sport scientists that are at the top of the game. My gym is a pretty serious MMA academy & it’s pretty damn expensive lol.
You're probably right from a technical standpoint but the point I was trying to get across was that a one dimensional fighter who heavily relies on striking is eventually going to get found out in MMA if their wrestling isn't of a high standard. I'm sure we do have high quality coaches but the standard of wrestling in Australia is nothing like it is overseas. Much easier to win a national wrestling title in Australia than it is to win the equivalent competition in America.

How do we address this though? Wrestling will never be a part of our culture in the same way it is engrained in the US high school/college system and just hoping older athletes will pick it up (like Whittaker was able to) is a poor strategy. We need to find a way to get the kids wrestling at a young age and then convince those high level wrestlers to pursue MMA. I suppose having kids train MMA from a young age (with heavy focus on wrestling) would also be a good strategy and easier to implement.
 

Dan

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The legacy of the Gracie family in MMA and Brazil dictates that no other country will take over.

They'll always be number 1 if you had to rank countries/continents.

Australia/NZ has high calibre fighters and enthusiastic fans that not only buy the ppv....but fill out arenas no matter what the cards look like. We are a very big and important market for the UFC.
 

mouncey2franklin

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Australia/NZ has high calibre fighters and enthusiastic fans that not only buy the ppv....but fill out arenas no matter what the cards look like. We are a very big and important market for the UFC.
Does enthusiastic fans translate to successful athletes?

I'd be interested if there are any studies on this.

Seems to me that Australia is sports-mad in the sense that we watch a lot of sports (and are happy to pay through the teeth for it).

I'm not so sure we are sports-mad in the sense of actually participating. Especially the molly-coddled gamer generation coming through now.
 

NonPhixion

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How much per month? And what classes come with the price?
$43 a week.
Classes include Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, MMA & Krav Maga. Every so often they have seminar sessions too. I like doing a bit of everything personally. I use to train at a cheaper gym but it was strictly Muay Thai
 

mouncey2franklin

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Yeah that's expensive but if you are going there five times per week and getting decent training, I'd still consider it good value.

Works out to about $2,200 per year, which is less than most blokes spend on piss.

And much less than most people spend on processed foods.

In fact I'd suggest it is less than most people spend on coffee.
 

Topkent

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Does enthusiastic fans translate to successful athletes?

I'd be interested if there are any studies on this.

Seems to me that Australia is sports-mad in the sense that we watch a lot of sports (and are happy to pay through the teeth for it).

I'm not so sure we are sports-mad in the sense of actually participating. Especially the molly-coddled gamer generation coming through now.
Are we sports mad?
There's always the crowds per capita of AFL being one of the highest in the world for arguments but it's a misleading stat when it comes to the country loving sport.
For instance below the premier league there are dozens of teams that regularly pull over 5k per game all the way down. I don't even think half of the population in Victoria could name the current VFL teams and country footy has been on the decline for years
In America they have the NFL NHL and NBA but on many occasions there college sports are bigger crowds than half of our crowds for top line sports.

I live in Canada and I reckon a quarter of the males you meet could talk your ear off about Hockey and actually be knowledgeable about it. Id be surprised if one in 10 people in Melbourne could actually talk footy with anything more than yer he's sh*t.

When India play cricket against us here they out do us in the crowds.

I think we were a sports mad country 30 years ago, I don't think we are at all anymore.
 

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4THAWN

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I'd say having a relatively small population makes it difficult to be a powerhouse in any sport that has wide representation across the globe.

We do have some of the best of the best, but in terms of having a large and high quality pool of MMA depth we're always going to be on the back foot compared to the larger nations i.e. USA/Brazil etc.
 

GC2015

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I'd say having a relatively small population makes it difficult to be a powerhouse in any sport that has wide representation across the globe.

We do have some of the best of the best, but in terms of having a large and high quality pool of MMA depth we're always going to be on the back foot compared to the larger nations i.e. USA/Brazil etc.
You're right in saying our depth will never compete with the likes of USA or Brazil but it doesn't really matter too much if we have championship quality fighters coming through. At the end of the day, MMA is going to grow faster in Australia if we have a few championship quality fighters instead of having greater depth but never having anyone reach the championship. The Adesanya v Whittaker fight in Melbourne set the all time attendance record for any UFC event and it's because people are genuinely interested and invested when one of our own is a world champion. I'm certain a Volkanovski v Holloway fight in Sydney will also pull 40k+ because it's what the casual fight fan in Australia wants to see.

Dana White even referred to us as a "massive market" for the UFC now. They are getting a lot of traction here and it definitely helps when you have home grown world champions coming through.
 

Topkent

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You're right in saying our depth will never compete with the likes of USA or Brazil but it doesn't really matter too much if we have championship quality fighters coming through. At the end of the day, MMA is going to grow faster in Australia if we have a few championship quality fighters instead of having greater depth but never having anyone reach the championship. The Adesanya v Whittaker fight in Melbourne set the all time attendance record for any UFC event and it's because people are genuinely interested and invested when one of our own is a world champion. I'm certain a Volkanovski v Holloway fight in Sydney will also pull 40k+ because it's what the casual fight fan in Australia wants to see.

Dana White even referred to us as a "massive market" for the UFC now. They are getting a lot of traction here and it definitely helps when you have home grown world champions coming through.
Shitty thing is Whittaker is probably the most boring interview in all of MMA. Volk is more confident but still not a fight seller. We really need someone like Tuivasa to take off even though he doesn't have the skills because he's a funny campaigner on the mic.
 

Upgrayedd

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Top tier comp in our own backyard and a top tier Gyms

Lots of guys go to Phuket/NZ to do their bulk training camps.

We have some good raw talent, We just dont identify it as well as the brazilians have been doing since 2008 or America since 2013ish,

No doubt we'll get there but it's not just about elite gyms that the best train at. it's that Pathway to feed guys into the system. We're getting there and a few are poppinng up, few more are getting serious but these things take time, it's not like 18 months before we have a strong local scene, it takes years
 

Topkent

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Also you can do all the analysis you want.

Population of USA + Brazil = 500+ million

Australia NZ ~ 29 million

So they have 16 times more possible athletes. Considering there are only 12 weight divisions combined in male and female having 1/6th of all world champions is nuts.
 

GC2015

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Does anyone think Megan Anderson will get a shot at Nunes for the women's featherweight belt any time soon? I know it's unlikely she would win that fight, but if she somehow came out victorious that would mean 3/12 (25%) UFC belts are held by Australasian fighters. Dan Hooker is probably the next best hope of a title shot for the Australasian fighters after Anderson.
 

Adzam

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Does anyone think Megan Anderson will get a shot at Nunes for the women's featherweight belt any time soon? I know it's unlikely she would win that fight, but if she somehow came out victorious that would mean 3/12 (25%) UFC belts are held by Australasian fighters. Dan Hooker is probably the next best hope of a title shot for the Australasian fighters after Anderson.
There’s that Canadian girl at 145. can’t remember her name right now who had a decent fight against cyborg. I would imagine she is just ahead of Anderson in terms of title shots. It sounds like nunes wants to defend the 145 belt so if she isn’t ready to go Anderson very well could get a chance but would obviously be a massive underdog
 

Ryz

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There’s that Canadian girl at 145. can’t remember her name right now who had a decent fight against cyborg. I would imagine she is just ahead of Anderson in terms of title shots. It sounds like nunes wants to defend the 145 belt so if she isn’t ready to go Anderson very well could get a chance but would obviously be a massive underdog
Felicia Spencer, who actually subbed Megan in the first round of her first match in the UFC.

She's 1-1 while Megan is 2-2 in the UFC.
 

the_interloper

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Well you have basketballers and American footballers from here going over for college in their sports, why not do this for wrestling? Though most likely a kid would need to go to high school there As well to get the grounding to compete at college level. Maybe this is the next step as MMA becomes more serious.
 

mcuzzy

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What are some good gyms in the South East suburbs?

Heard good things about Sting and SKAMMA
 

NonPhixion

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What are some good gyms in the South East suburbs?

Heard good things about Sting and SKAMMA
Hammers is really good. I trained there for about 6-8 months and cant say anything bad about it, only left as circumstances for me changed and became too far to drive. The trainers are very knowledgeable, especially Hammer himself.


this is him, pretty lethal haha
 

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