By Schwan Humes
Every day, week, month, and year in the MMA world we are fed rumors, whispers, and eventually video of a new young prospect, a new entry into the MMA lexicon who has a unique blend of speed, power, strength, skill, heart, durability, cage IQ, and fight maturity. But the fact of the matter is that it doesn't always come together for these prospects. Mismanagement, lack of technical development, insufficient mental toughness, stagnant training environment, and poor training habits are all possible contributing factors to a promising talent never reaching his or her full potential.
The focus of this article isn't the personal reasons that fighters come up short; we are going to look at the external things that contribute to the lack of growth, technical stagnation, and physical regression fighters. This is because it takes certain steps to develop a fighter -- regardless of physical gifts and base level of technical skills -- from prospect to legitimate fighter to contender to possible champion.
Ovince St. Preux, Jake Matthews, Phil Hawes, Ronda Rousey, Travis Browne. These are fighters whose base skills and top-end athleticism allowed them to cut a swath through divisions that a lesser athlete with the same technical limitations wouldn’t even put a scratch in. Athleticism allows you to skip the steps to a goal; we see it all the time in football, basketball and baseball: guys who don't really know how to play the sport on the highest level, able to compete because of tremendous size, strength, speed, and explosiveness advantages. It's no different in MMA, and it's one of the biggest contributing factors as to why prospects don't develop. It’s also the motivation behind the second biggest reason fighters don't become as good as their talent should dictate.
In part two of this series we will delve into another aspect of developing prospects, one of the most obvious, but historically overlooked area of development: Activity. In no other sport is the concept of being an active participant in your career more underappreciated and unrecognized by combat sports fans, MMA fans in particular.