Followers of any sport love to debate what attributes make up the perfect exponent of their favourite discipline. Golfers talk about swing and stance, tennis players need power, speed and coordination, and in boxing it comes down to a range of attacking punches and a sound defensive technique.
Of course, fans of MMA ask themselves and each other the same question, but in many respects, it is an even harder one to address because there are so many separate skills to put together. Here, we attempt to answer the question by looking at three broad areas.
Fighters enter MMA from a variety of directions, but the ones who stand the greatest chance of success are those with the broadest experience base.
Tim Barnett is a great example. The rising star from Liverpool is seen by many as exemplifying the future of the sport, a contention that is given credence by the fact that he has just signed one of the most lucrative sponsorship agreements the sport has ever seen with online gambling site Fruity King casino. The deal, for a site similar to Fortunefrenzy.co.uk, is the first of its kind for this growing sport and you can check out the full announcement on the casino’s website.
Barnett is from a boxing background, and while he is among the first to make the transition so successfully, he will certainly not be the last. Although boxing gives a degree of valuable experience for MMA, it is certainly not a guarantee of success. One area in which it provides very little grounding is in stopping the takedown and acquiring some submission defence skills. In this area, wrestling provides exactly what is needed, and professional boxers who have some wrestling experience too are physically well equipped to reach the top in MMA.
Rightly or wrongly, fighters in general do not always have the best reputation when it comes to their cognitive skills. But a shrewd mind that can think quickly is an asset that should not be overlooked. This is another area in which Tim Barnett scores high, and was almost certainly a factor in the deal being struck with Fruity King.
Seething masses of testosterone-fuelled aggression like Robbie Lawler and Conor McGregor are one thing, but they almost seem like a throw back to the 1980s pantomime that was the WWF, an image that the UFC needs to move away from in order to be taken seriously as a sport.
Barnett has seriousness by the truckload. He is also extremely technology friendly, with one of the biggest social media followings in the sport. And rather than waste his breath on violent rhetoric, he spends his time spreading the word on health, nutrition, veganism and positive thinking. Definitely a fighter for the new millennium!
Physical experience and mental strength will get you most of the way, but the perfect MMA fighter needs to tie these together with a big heart and the will to keep going. Who can forget the punishment that Franke Edgar went through in 2011 with those back to back defeats at the hands of Gray Maynard? But the man just kept on regardless, and became one of the most respected figures in the sport.