Even as a die-hard jiu-jitsu fan and competitor, I am not afraid to tell you, the reader, straight forward that I believe jiu-jitsu is not the best sport to come from if you look to be a great MMA fighter.

In my humble opinion, I feel that wrestling is in fact the best background to have when heading into MMA. The reason being is that the wrestlers know how to take a fight to the ground and are trained solely to stay on top. Wrestlers are grinders and are famous for wearing opponents out. Just look at Matt Hughes or Tito Ortiz when they were both in their prime. Those two Hall of Famers were able to use their wrestling to set up their famous ground-and-pound beatdowns.

Yet, with all of this being said, that doesn’t mean that a jiu-jitsu athlete cannot become successful in MMA. In fact, there are many jiu-jitsu legends that have had success in MMA using their jiu-jitsu. One of those athletes is none other than three-time absolute champion Roger Gracie.

Gracie is coming off a big win this past weekend in Strikeforce, defeating Keith Jardine in his middleweight debut. In his bout with the UFC veteran, Gracie showed us how jiu-jitsu can be put to good use in numerous ways.

One way that Gracie displayed his transition from jiu-jitsu to MMA is that he always kept calm. Jiu-jitsu is a sport where when you are either in a good or bad position, you must always keep your composure and be able to control yourself. Gracie became a legend of his sport with his calmness and was able to carry that calm and methodical attitude into his most recent fight. Gracie never rushed anything when he had a good position, and that’s what helped him control the entire fight.

Another quality that Gracie has been able to display in MMA is that no matter whether he is on top or on bottom, he will always be a threat for the submission. Although a wrestler might be the best while they are on top, many can tend to look like a fish out of water when they are brought to the bottom position. Gracie, and most top jiu-jitsu athletes now in MMA, are comfortable wherever they may be on the ground, even if it’s in the bottom position.

If someone were to look at some of the top MMA guys nowadays, you can see that a bunch come from jiu-jitsu backgrounds, and they all display what Gracie was able to demonstrate this past weekend.

Look at B.J. Penn or Anderson Silva, for example. They both show the same calm demeanor when they are on the ground, and they are always a threat for the submission even when they are on bottom (just remember Silva’s first fight with Chael Sonnen). Penn doesn’t even really seem to care when he gets taken down, since he is able to use his flexibility and jiu-jitsu to threaten his opponent for a submission.

A good jiu-jitsu game is also such an important intangible to possess since it gives you so many options from so many different positions when on the ground. Whether the position is good or bad, the jiu-jitsu fighter always seems to have at least a slight edge over whoever their opponent is when they are on the mat.

Now, with all of this being said, I still do believe that wrestling is the strongest background to have for MMA, but that doesn’t make jiu-jitsu weak. To be a successful MMA athlete with a jiu-jitsu background, you just have to play the game right, like Roger Gracie, B.J. Penn, Anderson Silva and others have been able to show in their respective careers.

So, what do you think? Do you agree that wrestling is the better background to have going into MMA? Or do you believe jiu-jitsu is the better of the ground sports for the up-and-coming MMA fighter. Give us your opinion and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Photo: Strikeforce fighter and ADCC champ Roger Gracie (top) dominated Keith Jardine (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor
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Gianni Grippo is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Marcelo Garcia and trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York City. Besides being a big fan of the sport, Gianni is also an avid competitor and has ranked among the best in the World from blue to brown belt winning 6 IBJJF World titles and 7 Pan Championships. Still at 21, Gianni looks to continue to compete for many years to come as his main goals are to win the World championships at black belt and win the ADCC title.