Mixed martial arts: Individual or team sport?

Kristen King // Staff Writer

To the naked eye, a person may see mixed martial arts as an individual sport. Sure, it’s a one on one fight between men or women, but no one ever talks about the other people they see before the fight starts.

Just before these fighters engage in battle, they are standing in opposite corners surrounded by at least three men or women. We call these the “corner people,” and for the most part, they come from the team of the fighter.

Why do these people stand behind the fighters and offer them advice during the fight? Because they are responsible for the preparation of the fighter leading up to the fight.

Despite what you may see before the cage door closes, it should be taken into consideration that MMA is far from an individual sport. Regardless of it being based on a one on one structure, it cannot be ignored that a team is what makes the fighters ready for war.

From my previous interviews with leaders of mixed martial arts clubs at FIU, I have taken away one major factor: they all believe that their success is tied to the work done with their team.

Brazilian jiu jitsu President Ricky Smeglia has referred to his members as “a family,” while capoeira club President Risa Perea sees her members as “one of the best groups to work with.”

In a sport like mixed martial arts, there are so many disciplines that must be learned in order to compete. Doing them by yourself may be easy once you get the hang of it, but it’s the learning that proves to be the hardest.

There is no one person that knows and executes every discipline of mixed martial arts perfectly. Because of this, a team is generally consisted of a variety of different coaches who teach methods from boxing to jiu jitsu to wrestling.

When a fighter trains with these coaches, they learn each method of the sport in a manner that allows them to compete at a high level.

Why do you think at the end of fights, these fighters take the time to acknowledge each and every one of their coaches? Because without them, they would not be able to put everything together and perform in the way that they do.

So the question still remains: should MMA be considered an individual or team sport?

My answer is definitely team.

Professional fighters like Nick Diaz, Urijah Faber and Michael Bisping have all expressed their reasons behind staying with their teams. There is a sense of loyalty and trust that is built when training with a group of people for years and it cannot be broken.

FIU sports club directory Web page has all of the sports categorized into three distinct groups: team, martial arts and individual/dual.

There should be no distinction of these sports because despite the end result, students use a group of other student to learn and prepare for their sport.

Due to this, all sports, especially mixed martial arts, should be recognized as a team sport.

1 Comment on "Mixed martial arts: Individual or team sport?"

  1. In that sense, is there a any sport that isn’t a teamsport?

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