10 Things Every MMA Fighter Should Know

10 Things Every MMA Fighter Should Know



Executing MMA moves, or even the individual disciplines like jiu-jitsu or muay Thai, in a school is different from utilizing it in the ring. First-time fighters often tense up in the ring resulting in a loss. To help new fighters who seek glory in the ring get accustomed to fighting in front of an audience, Ralek Gracie, son of Ultimate Fighting Championship co-founder Rorion Gracie, created a list of 10 things a fighter must know before entering the ring based on his fighting experience and lessons passed down to him by his family. UFC and Pancrase veteran Bas Rutten weighs in on Gracie’s tips and offers additional advice.

1. Losing is Winning According to Gracie, the more you lose in training, the more you will win in competition. Training with bigger and more technical partners will make your reflexes and technique sharper. Rutten added, “It’s good to lose in training, but I don’t want a student to do it a lot because it can mentally affect him. When you have to tap over and over, you paint in your mind a picture that they can beat you with ease.”

2. Cardio is King Gracie recommends adding variety to a fighter’s cardiovascular routine such as uphill sprints, running sand hills, and running on a treadmill when it’s turned off. “He’s 100 percent right,” Rutten agreed. “If you lose because you run out of gas, you are not that smart. Like Ralek says, ‘Go run some hills!’”

3. Matter Over Mind In high-stress situations, your body produces a reaction by releasing certain hormones that tell your mind to work simultaneously with your body, which will bypass your normal thought process, according to Gracie. One should train to feel comfortable in that state of mind. Once your senses take over, your mind works as a slow-motion camera taking split second pictures that makes decisions, so your body follows without hesitation.

4. Respect Your Opponent “That other person is a reflection of you since you both want the same thing,” Gracie explained. “If you lose, you should respect your opponent more than if you win. A worthy opponent is more important to your growth than a walk through opponent.”

This might seem like a tired adage, but Rutten believes the advice is important. “Respect your opponent’s skills because if you don’t, you might make mistakes,” Rutten said. “Always be prepared for an opponent who will have the best day of his career.”

5. Focus “The more shots you take at your opponent, the more likely you are to get the right one — eventually,” Gracie said. “The more you focus on getting the right strike, the more likely you are to capture the moment of victory.”

Rutten concurred and said, “With me, the focus is on one thing, and one thing only — I don’t want to get side tracked by other things,” in regards to fighting opponents in sold-out arenas.

6. 10,000 Hours Just like his grandfather Helio, the younger Gracie believes, “It takes 10,000 hours to be an expert in anything. Understand that everything monumental was built over time with three main elements: knowledge, perseverance and teamwork.”

Though he agrees, Rutten warns fighters to not drill too much because “I know that once in a fight when you try the drill and the opponent suddenly bucks up or does something else, it won’t work. So drill while rolling.”

7. The Basics Though as fighters advance in their training, “The most basic moves work better in a fight than the most complicated,” Gracie said. More basic moves require less movement and better timing.

“I am 100 percent with him,” Rutten said. “If your fundamentals are not right, you can’t build on that, because everything that you would try to build on that would crumble, just like a house.”

8. The Right Team According to Gracie, if you beat everyone you train with, it is time to find new training partners. It may sound harsh, but training with partners better than you will only make you grow.

9. The Right Philosophy Gracie believes that though life is perfect, man will always lack in his complete discovery. His only chance for peace is to be grateful for the smallest details of his experience. However, Rutten countered and said, “Life isn’t always perfect, but that’s the great thing about it. Falling and getting up again, that’s how you get better and learn in life.”

10. Discipline The fight is not won the day of the fight – it is won six months before when a fighter eats the right foods and gets enough rest and the right amount of training, according to Gracie.

An additional tip Rutten said he believes should have been included on the list is to “Forget about the no sex rule, it’s stupid. It makes you more relaxed, which will help you fight better,” he said. “I believe that rule is invented to keep the fighters in line so that they don’t screw around and get side tracked by women.”


  1. Excellent perspective offered by Ralek Gracie. Simple but effective advice that most don’t take the time to
    employ. Bas’ experience & support of the insight offered by Ralek is only proof that these are the principles
    a fighter should follow. Thanks for the great piece!

  2. They are very good suggests, all well to know, special when comes from specialists.
    I am NOT an athlete, [I wish I was] , BUT I agree with.
    May GOD [JESUS] bless You and have a very nice day.
    Salvatore A. LEOCATA

  3. Again
    Thank You
    and again the Lord JESUS
    All are good to Know.
    Even JOE LOUIS was KO by, before became world champion and unbeaten before retaired,
    for very long time, 12 years. The true is NO matter how natural talent you have,great you can be, WHEN A DAY is BAD, we MUST wait for the right time.
    I guess you brother agree with me. PATIENCE and SELF CONFIDENCE COUNT LOTS

  4. Cassius Clay when was 22 years old said, that champions are NOT made on gym,
    but inside self will and self believe, then HE was very very fast with his hands, nimble in the legs, his boxing intuitions where genious, and above all for the surprise of the world,
    [HE never had strong power] His CHIN was a truly BODYARMOR and He took hard blows
    from Heavyweight punches from specialist in left hooks,[ see Joe Frazier, Henry Cooper]
    Even hard blows in the liver [ see George Foreman,Chuck Wepner]
    TRULY NOT MANY GREAT CHAMPIONS could stand to take that, as HE did.
    In HIS prime always HE had his guard hands down, then after for many years always
    He was full closed in defense. THANK YOU Salvatore

  5. Ralek is clearly the more thoughtful of the two. I don’t think Bas really understood some of the points he was agreeing with. For example, #7, the Basics. Ralek is saying the basics are best, not that you need the basics in order to expand to something better. Ralek’s statement is akin to Occam’s Razor. The simplest method is always the best method. Bas interpreted Ralek’s statement as meaning that the basics are a stepping stone to something better. Ralek meant that there is nothing better than the basics. #5, Focus. Bas isn’t even on the same page as Ralek on this one. Ralek is saying throw combos, don’t pick your punches. And that really is the basics. Fighters who don’t throw combos and don’t know how to jab always lose. Well, except for Dan Henderson, but imagine how much better he’d be if he wasn’t always trying to load up the power-punch. #9, Philosophy. Here Bas reveals that he’s just not as philosophical as Ralek. Ralek’s “life is perfect” statement uses “life” as a metaphor for the existence of the universe, or at least, the ability to witness the existence of the universe. Take man out of the equation, and the universe is perfect. Only man’s struggles matter to man, and Ralek is telling us how to triumph in the matters that concern men.

    I don’t really understand why Bas’ comments were tacked onto Ralek’s; his comments are superfluous.

  6. Salvatore: When ‘Cassius Clay’ was in his prime, he called himself Muhammed Ali. In otherwords, he was The Greatest, WITHOUT Jesus as his savior.

  7. BTW, folks, I’m going to let you all in on a secret.. the secret that Machida and Anderson Silva are exploiting. Guys like Brock Lesnar use brute force. Guys like GSP use a barrage of attacks on different levels. But guys like Machida and Silva use something else: the OODA Loop. The OODA Loop was sussed out by WWII fighter pilots who realized that the difference between shooting down their enemy and getting shot down in a dogfight was to be a split-second ahead of their opponent. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. The fighter who completes the cycle in the shortest time prevails because his opponent is caught responding to situations that have already changed.

    If you want to win, learn all you can about exploiting the OODA loop.

    And get cardio.

  8. Hikuta: first, thanks for your comments. its always appreciated 🙂 since i wrote the article, I just wanted to comment on your statement about why Bas was tacked on to the story.

    I knew Ralek would be very philosophical to his answers. Having spoken and interacted with him several times, I knew his list would convey his beliefs. I wanted to add an opposing view point to his philosophical beliefs to give the story some flavor. Enter Bas who I knew would be more technical in his answers.

    I think Bas complimented the story to demonstrate that there are different “roads” to achieving something. Though Bas may not have completely grasps Ralek’s statements, he “speaks” for several fight fans who may not agree with the philosophical aspect of BJJ.

  9. Romey: I see your point, and of course I consider Bas to be a Hall of Famer, but I think I would have rather seen a wrestler’s opinion to counter Ralek’s BJJ philosophizing, as I consider wrestling to be the counter to BJJ. I think a lot of people who don’t have wrestling don’t know what it means to ‘have wrestling’. Wrestling is just pushing guys around, there is very little technical aspect (though wrestlers would object to this charactarization, I’m sure). To me, wrestling is all about gaining proprioception by simply pushing against each other, and over time proprioception is developed automatically, along with a superior sense of balance and gravity. And that’s why it’s the counter to BJJ.

    Anyway, it was a good article, I can see why it’s in at the top of the ‘most popular posts’ list.

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