In combat sports, there is always an argument of which style is better. Bruce Lee made his case for Jeet Kun Do back in the late 60s and early to mid 70s. The Gracie family continues to make their point with their system of jiu-jitsu.
Today, mixed martial arts gives us the opportunity to watch many styles compete with each other in one cage or ring (depending on the league). What has become clear is that, no matter the style, an overall mix of disciplines is what tends to be the most efficient arsenal in the sport.
Those who focus too much on one thing end up on the losing side of a given match-up.
This argument seems to present itself when K-1 fighters transition over to mixed martial arts. Essentially, the issue stems from fighters coming from K-1, a league known for it’s standing form of combat, having trouble adjusting to the addition of ground combat and the dangers it presents in mixed martial arts.
One fighter who has seen this firsthand is UFC heavyweight Pat Barry. Barry, or “HD” as he is commonly known, has participated in both sports, experiencing the difference between each and the transition from one to the other.
There is no doubt, K-1 has some of the best stand-up fighters in the world. The assumption is that having the kind of experience K-1 gives will put a fighter a level up on his competition when on the feet in MMA. Barry, however, believes his training in MMA raised his level of striking and made him a better kickboxer as a result.
“I think that my striking ability is what helped me to get better, to do well in MMA,” Barry said on MMAWeekly Radio. “My striking ability is what helped me grow and helped me do the things I was capable of doing in MMA. At the same time, training in MMA has made my striking 10 times better. By doing two-and-a-half years of wrestling, jiu-jitsu and just MMA striking, I’m confident that I’m a much better kickboxer now than I was when I was just kickboxing.”
For every critic that says K-1 fighters can’t transition into MMA, there is another making the case for opposing that argument. Barry is one of those opposing it. He seems to believe that anyone can transition into MMA, even if they come from one specific discipline.
Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, karate, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling experts can enter the sport of mixed martial arts and find moderate to great success, according to “HD.”
“It’s happening,” he said about fighters from other disciplines being successful in MMA. “For anyone to think that a kickboxer cannot make the transition over to MMA is ridiculous.”
And what about the other way around?
“For anyone to think that an MMA guy cannot make the transition over into kickboxing is ridiculous,” he exclaimed. “Anybody can do anything nowadays, especially guys like Anthony Pettis. That’s like saying, ‘Anthony Pettis could not have a kickboxing match and do well.’ That’s ridicuouls. Dude is phenomenal.
“Guys are so good nowadays, the sport is so evolved that I think anybody can do any of it. It just depends on what you’re training for.”
One mixed martial artist that has had the utmost success in K-1 is Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. Recently, Overeem competed in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 in Japan. In that tournament, he did what no other mixed martial artist has done, and won the heavyweight bracket. Not only did he win, but he did it in record time.
This is the best example of applying MMA striking to a K-1 rules tournament and finding great success in doing so.
When reflecting on Overeem and his success in both sports, Barry talked about the Dutch fighter and how he is an unstoppable force.
“The dude is a monster. That’s what I think,” he said. “Not only is he humongous, (but) he’s extremely experienced. That’s what makes him the most dangerous. Not just the size, but he has so much experience in MMA and in kickboxing, and he’s a Dutch trained kickboxer. I was in Amsterdam for five years. I know what the Dutch train like out there. The dude is a monster. I don’t know how anyone is going to stop him any time soon.
“He doesn’t seem to get tired. All he needs to do is hit you one time. He’s fast, he’s athletic, and he’s strong as hell. He’s everything you need all in one body.”
In the K-1 tournament, Overeem fought a kickboxer that showed some definite ferocity in Gohkan Saki. Barry says he never misses a K-1 fight on TV, and he witnessed Saki’s performance in the tournament. He believes the Saki-Ghita tournament fight was one of the best kickboxing matches he has seen in the last decade. Unfortunately for Saki, he lost to Overeem in the second round of the bracket, breaking his arm in the process.
Since the loss, Saki has gone on Twitter and talked about his plan to transition to MMA. Specifically, the Turkish kickboxer made note that he plans on talking to Strikeforce sometime this year in an effort to fight for the San Jose, Calif.-based promotion in the summer.
Barry, who is clearly adamant about fighters finding success in a transition between sports, talked about Saki and feels he’ll do well, but he had some reservation in saying so. He believes Saki will have to get out of his kickboxing frame of mind.
“As long as he doesn’t rely solely on his kickboxing ability,” Barry commented on Saki’s potential in MMA. “The reason I say that is because I was out there in Amsterdam. I know what the Dutch are like and they believe that their kickboxing is the greatest in the world. And it is. It’s up there in the top best of all time, but I see them also transition into MMA and they get in there and still strike the way they would in a kickboxing match.”