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Battle of Styles: Wrestling Dominates Other Martial Arts

LAS VEGAS - JULY 03:  Brock Lesnar and other wrestlers lead the way in MMA. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - JULY 03: Brock Lesnar and other wrestlers lead the way in MMA. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Our own Luke Thomas wondered aloud after UFC 120 whether the Brits will ever be able to produce a world champion MMA fighter. Part of the problem stems from the nation's lack of institutional grappling support. Despite Britain's important role in the development of catch wrestling in America, the sport of kings has become a lost art in the United Kingdom.

The ensuing discussion brings up an interesting question. Do you need a wrestling background to succeed at the highest levels of the sport? Mixed Martial Arts started by asking a simple question - which martial art is the best and most effective. We now realize that to be truly great, you need a combination of skills. But it does seem like many of the top fighters in today's top promotions come from a wrestling background. Is that true? Does the success of Brock Lesnar skew our perception?

I decided to take a look at the top 10 fighters in each of the seven major weight classes to see what discipline was producing the most elite fighters. I expected the results to show that fighters came from a variety of martial arts, with no one discipline standing out. I was wrong.

Wrestling: 43%

BJJ: 26%

Mixed: 17%

Kickboxing: 10%

Judo: 4%

Wrestling produced as many elite fighters as the next two disciplines combined. It seems the days of Royce Gracie are firmly planted in the past. More fighters are coming into the sport from wrestling than from any other art. It may be time for the British to build some wrestling rooms after all.

A breakdown of fighters by discipline after the jump.



  1. Brock Lesnar Wrestling    
  2. Cain Velasquez Wrestling
  3. Shane Carwin Wrestling
  4. Josh Barnett  Wrestling
  5. Rashad Evans Wrestling
  6. Quinton Jackson Wrestling
  7. Ryan Bader  Wrestling
  8. Jon Jones  Wrestling
  9. Chael Sonnen  Wrestling
  10. Jake Shields Wrestling
  11. Dan Henderson Wrestling
  12. Yushin Okami Wrestling
  13. Jon Fitch    Wrestling
  14. Josh Koscheck Wrestling
  15. Matt Hughes Wrestling
  16. Frank Edgar Wrestling
  17. Gilbert Melendez Wrestling
  18. Gray Maynard     Wrestling
  19. Tatsuya Kawajiri Wrestling
  20. Sean Sherk Wrestling
  21. Mike Brown Wrestling
  22. Urijah Faber Wrestling
  23. Dominick Cruz Wrestling
  24. Brian Bowles     Wrestling/Mixed
  25. Joseph Benavidez     Wrestling
  26.  Scott Jorgensen     Wrestling
  27. Masakatsu Ueda Wrestling
  28.  Charlie Valencia Wrestling


  1. Fabricio Werdum     BJJ
  2. Junior dos Santos     BJJ/Boxing
  3. Frank Mir     BJJ
  4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira  BJJ
  5. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira BJJ
  6. Vitor Belfort     BJJ/Boxing
  7. Demian Maia     BJJ
  8. Ronaldo Souza BJJ
  9. Nick Diaz  BJJ
  10. Paulo Thiago     BJJ
  11. B.J. Penn BJJ
  12. Shinya Aoki BJJ/Judo
  13. Kenny Florian     BJJ
  14. George Sotiropoulos BJJ
  15. Marlon Sandro BJJ
  16. Bibiano Fernandes     BJJ
  17. Miguel Torres BJJ
  18. Wagney Fabianno


  1. Fedor Emelianenko Judo/Sambo
  2. Manny Gamburyan Judo
  3. Michihiro Omigawa Judo


  1. Lyoto Machida Karate/Mixed
  2. Forrest Griffin  Mixed
  3. Gegard Mousasi Mixed
  4. Nate Marquardt Mixed
  5. Georges St. Pierre Mixed
  6. Eddie Alvarez Mixed
  7. Jose Aldo Mixed
  8. Hatsu Hioki Mixed
  9. Josh Grispi Mixed
  10. Masanori Kanehara Mixed
  11. Takeya Mizugaki Mixed  
  12. Damacio Page Mixed


  1. Alistair Overeem Kickboxing
  2. Mauricio Rua  Kickboxing
  3. Anderson Silva Kickboxing
  4. Jorge Santiago Kickboxing
  5. Thiago Alves  Kickboxing
  6. Dan Hardy Kickboxing
  7. Martin Kampmann Kickboxing