Just from its name, the sport of mixed martial arts is pretty self-explanatory — combat is defined by the combination of many different styles inside the cage. It naturally follows, then, that because there are many different styles at play, each fighter will have their particular strengths, weaknesses, and specializations.
Four core martial arts make up the skill sets of UFC fighters: boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. For boxing, UFC heavyweight Junior Dos Santos is arguably one of the best in the field, using his remarkable fists to reign supreme over the division. Meanwhile, in the related field of Muay Thai, middleweight Anderson Silva has historically dominated the rankings, using the clinch skills from Muay Thai to huge success in close quarters. Similarly, heavyweight Alistair Overeem is also one of the best kickboxers in the league.
For Brazilian jiu-jitsu, UFC welterweight Demian Maia is considered one of the most dangerous fighters when the action goes to the mat. In the related sport of wrestling, UFC legend Georges St. Pierre is regarded as one of the best grapplers in the sport’s history, which is interesting because he never wrestled in his formative years. Other dangerous wrestlers in the UFC include erstwhile UFC competitor Chael Sonnen, pro wrestler Brock Lesnar, and the legendary Randy Couture.
Other martial arts used in the UFC include judo, karate, and taekwondo. In the UFC, Yoshihiro Akiyama uses judo to devastating effect with his throws. Karate is rarely seen in the sport, but the renowned Lyoto Machida utilizes it to great success. For taekwondo, Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson, and Anderson Silva are considered the top men for their displays of skill in this popular Korean martial art.
It’s possible that we may see less common martial arts inside the octagon, but as combat is professionalized, it’s fitting that only the most effective and efficient fighting styles are on display at the top of the league. However, it only takes a famous win by a master at a relatively unique style to make it popular.
What other martial arts have dominant fighters in the UFC?