By Schwan Humes
In part one of this series, I discussed what defines outside consultants and analysts, as well as the benefit of using them in the MMA landscape; in part two I will discuss the roadblocks that keep camps and fighters from actively using analysts and consultants in their game planning, preparation, and training for scheduled or short-notice opponents.
In more traditional sports there is a long and hallowed history, with countless numbers of coaches, coaching styles, fighters, fighting styles, and years of growth, refinement, experimentation and adjustment that organically happens as a sport grows. This isn’t limited to just the professional ranks; this happens at every level, from Pop Warner to the Pros. That means that a large majority of people have competed at some level in basketball, football, baseball, soccer, and tennis; firsthand experience in these sports is a huge advantage that most people in and around mixed martial arts don’t have, since it has only been around for about 20 to 25 years. What this means is that it’s easier to find consultants who have taken part in these traditional sports -- they understand the strategies, the techniques, the coaching styles, and the training necessary to take part in these sports.
In other sports, it actually is a full time job, and consultants and analysts have many more resources to utilize in researching an opponent. These things are still scarce in the mixed martial arts landscape. That means a consultant or analyst in MMA has to work that much harder to contribute the same amount of quality information that an analyst or consultant from a traditional sport would. This requires an investment of time and energy that demands compensation -- the same as a striking coach, grappling coach, strength & conditioning coach, or head coach would require. Unfortunately, in mixed martial arts, that sort of financial support doesn’t exist. Scott Harris did a masterful job of explaining the plight of the mixed martial artist and the sport as a result of the financial instability in “the fastest growing sport in the world” in a recent Bleacher Report piece.
Consultants and analysts provide valuable tools, tools that have been proven useful in every other major, and minor, sport in the world. However, in mixed martial arts their value is still in question. This is due in large part to the small sample size we have as it pertains to the strategies, techniques, and philosophies that drive the sport. Many coaches won’t feel confident in putting the reputations of their camps or the fates of their fighters in the hands of a person whose knowledge they question.
Limited preparation and poor game planning are things that would get you fired, if not blackballed, at the highest levels of each and every other major sport, but they are rampant in mixed martial arts, even at the highest levels. If MMA really wants to compete with the quality and consistency presented by the national and collegiate-level sports organizations, its entities are going to have to make it a point to place emphasis on the presence of analysts and consultants. More importantly, they have to be willing to make a financial commitment. In my opinion, it’s one of the first steps to the improvement of the long term viability of the fighters and the organizations they compete in.