by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com Wrestling has always been a vital part of MMA, from the days of Dan Severn and Mark “The Hammer” Coleman to fighters at the top of the sport today like Georges St-Pierre and Brock Lesnar.
Dan Hardy is one person who does not enjoy the wrestling tactic used in many fights. He expressed those thoughts after two of his teammates fell short battling grapplers in their fights at UFC 118 in Boston.
“I think the problem is there’s beginning to be too much wrestling in UFC Octagon, not too little of it in the gym,” Hardy said in an article for the Nottingham Post. “There are a lot of people out there calling themselves ‘UFC fighters’ who are nothing of the kind. In the UFC, you should go for finishes.
“You should work for 15 minutes to knock your opponent out, submit him, or improve your position to give yourself the best chance of doing either. But there’s guys out there who just want to use wrestling to hold a stalemate for 15 minutes, without ever risking going for ground and pounds or attempting submissions.”
Hardy fell prey to the takedown in his last fight, finding himself on his back for the better part of 25 minutes in his title bout against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Hardy isn’t the first British fighter to suffer in the wrestling department, and while he admits he’s working on that part of the game, he still has issues with the current trend in the UFC.
Another person who fell short due to his wrestling in his last fight is Nate Marquardt. Top middleweight contender Chael Sonnen took him down repeatedly in their fight back in February.
Marquardt takes a different approach when hearing Hardy’s comments about wrestling’s dominance in MMA.
“I think that’s just something from someone who isn’t a good wrestler,” Marquardt said about Hardy. “I think wrestling is a big part of MMA, and you shouldn’t complain about it, you should learn it and learn how to defend against it.”
Speaking about his fight with Sonnen, Marquardt is honest about his shortcomings and what he did when he went back in the gym to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“I was unable to defend the takedowns in my last fight, and that’s why I lost the fight,” Marquardt commented. “Now I’m going to be more prepared to defend the takedown no matter who I’m fighting, and I worked hard on my wrestling and I continue to work hard on my wrestling.”
Looking at the current champions and contenders in the UFC, there are wrestlers perched at the top of several divisions, but there are always interlacing fighters from striking backgrounds, grappling backgrounds, and everything in between.
Marquardt believes this is just the right moment for wrestling to dominate in MMA, but just like everything else, the times will change.
“With mixed martial arts we see waves of changes, trends in the sport where one minute it’s strikers that are dominating the sport, then all of a sudden it’s the wrestlers, then it kind of goes back and forth, and I think it’s just something you have to pay attention to and be prepared for,” he commented.
Marquardt has worked tirelessly on his wrestling and grappling since the loss to Sonnen in preparation for his upcoming fight with Rousimar Palhares at UFC Fight Night 22. For Hardy, his next fight will fall against New Mexico fighter Carlos Condit at UFC 120 in England.
As far as the debate about wrestling in MMA, that will always continue to be an ongoing discussion among fighters, media, and promoters.