Over the last two decades, mixed martial arts has become extremely popular. As the sport grew and evolved, the rules changed and fighters had to adapt and change their styles to incorporate strikes, takedowns, and groundwork. Nowadays, mixed martial artists are considered to be some of the most dangerous people on the planet. Here at INPAX, however we make a distinction between competitive fighting and what happens out on the street.

Several months ago I stumbled upon a video on the internet that illustrated this distinction perfectly. The video documents a trip taken by UFC President Dana White to the Marine Corps base in Quantico. White was accompanied by several notable UFC fighters including Gabriel Gonzaga, Rashad Evans, and Forest Griffin. The marine combat instructors proceeded to put the fighters through a totally different kind of fight training. The fighters were giving dummy knives, clubs, or rifles and made to engage one or more marines as if they were in a fight to the death. It was quite clear that the fighters were out of their element, and had the situation involved real weapons they would have gotten a first class ticket to the ER or even the morgue.

My assessment is not meant to belittle the mixed martial artists in the video, or anyone else that practices MMA. As a whole, I consider mixed martial artists to be some of the best conditioned and most well-rounded athletes in the world. However, at the end of the day their training is focused on competition. MMA fighters are well-disciplined and highly skilled, but in practical terms they have one crucial flaw. Competitive fighting is a contest and contests, by their very nature, must take place within a controlled environment. Essentially ultimate fighting is regulated fighting. What I mean is that MMA or any other fighting sport involves two opponents of comparable skill trying to out-point or outlast one another within the controlled environment of the ring or the cage. The UFC tagline is ‘As Real As It Gets’, and realistically a mixed martial artist has a much larger repertoire than a boxer or a straight jiu-jitsu fighter. That being said, the fact remains that there are still rules in place in order to prevent the fighters from sustaining serious injury. Furthermore, each fighter knows that if he reaches his breaking point he can stop the fight by tapping out.

Outside of the ring or the cage this is not the case. There are no rules. Who says that confrontations have to be one on one, or that weapons won’t be involved, or that third party protection will not be a consideration? On the street these questions are extremely pertinent. You may be about to engage one opponent in front of you when all of a sudden his buddy punches you in the back of the head or bear hugs you. Mixed martial arts training does have many useful techniques and is a great means of improving strength and conditioning, but it cannot fully prepare you to deal with the myriad of variables that that you may encounter outside of the cage. I recommend training to fight, but I also recommend training to live and live with confidence.