Roxanne Modafferi is back in the hot seat for another edition of Dear Roxy, the advice column where the ‘Happy Warrior’ goes toe-to-toe-with questions about fighting, training, and life in general.
Last week focused on whether or not MMA needs a ‘master’s division’, the possible advantages of fighting with extra weight. We also looked at PEDs in MMA and how much they’re worth the cost and just how much it costs to train for MMA at a high level.
In today’s column, I’ll be looking at winning via injury stoppage, and whether or not it has less value than a standard TKO, submission, or decision victory. I’ll also be talking about tricks to push yourself in training and what, if any, differences there were competing for the various organizations I got to fight for over my career.
“Do you think injuries that occur during a fight should have any bearing on the legitimacy of a recorded win? It seems a general consensus that Curtis Blaydes didn’t have a large influence on the injury sustained by Tom Aspinall in their recent matchup... Should Yair’s win [over Ortega] be seen as any less credible because he wasn’t specifically applying an “official” submission technique targeting the shoulder?” — From Gokou9001
It does feel like some differentiation should be made, doesn’t it? It doesn’t seem fair for an opponent who didn’t cause the injury to advance in the ranking. On the other hand—now, when I verbalize it—it also doesn’t seem fair NOT to give them credit. The fight is over, the last person standing gets the victory and the prize money. The victor trained hard for the fight, made weight (hopefully), and entered into the cage to do his or her job. Maybe that’s just the way it goes regarding injuries. Lots of fighters have fought with injuries and overcome them. Some can’t. I took part in such a match. Maycee Barber injured her ACL in our fight, and it hindered her. However, she was still dangerous, hit me hard, and almost kimura-ed me from the bottom. I can’t think of a fair way to change the system.
Also, it almost doesn’t matter. The matchmakers have certain fights they want to make and have total control over who gets title shots and whatnot. For example, Fighter A and B are fighting. The matchmaker hopes A wins because he has more charisma. Fighter A gets hurt and B wins, causing everyone to claim B is ready for the title shot. The matchmaker often just sets him up with somebody else as a ‘qualifier.’ The one who has the power makes the rules.
“Were there any specific mental techniques that you’d use to push yourself through a hard training session? Also, was it difficult to keep your adrenaline in check during a fight? How long did it take to develop that skill?” — From Mr. Beavis19
Dear Mr. Beavi19,
Yes, more often than not, I had hard training sessions to the point it made me want to stop. Often, I worried that I would get injured if I kept going, or be too sore the next day to do anything. Mentally, I would call upon my pride to force myself to continue. “How can you live with yourself knowing you gave up?” I’d ask myself. “Naruto or Vegeta wouldn’t give up. You’ve never given up once, on your pride as a martial artist. This is how you become stronger, to push yourself beyond your limits.”
The unfortunate result was that I got hurt a lot, honestly. But this kind of mindset also allowed me to accomplish some great things. If I didn’t push myself for fear I’d get hurt, I’d never have reached the UFC level. Once in a while, I did allow myself some leeway when it came to my lower back and neck. I was more seriously injured with them at certain points, and it effected my daily life. However, I made sure to decide the degree at which I’d push myself BEFORE I began training. Otherwise, it would be a decision made in the pain of emotion, and to me, showed weakness of character. For example, “Okay, I have a budging disk so I’ll go to about a pain level “five” (out of ten) today.”
As for your second question, “keep your adrenaline in check during a fight?” I’m not sure what that means, or if I even do that or not. There is no ‘check,’ only effort.
“As a seasoned mixed martial artist, you’ve competed in various organizations (Strikeforce, Invicta, UFC, etc) and in different eras (2003-2022)... How do the styles of fighters compare across different organizations? Similarly, how has MMA evolved over multiple eras and what new styles do you think will emerge as successful in the future?” — Taha Teke
Dear Taha Teke,
I think you are right, that MMA is evolving and different places encourage different styles of fighting. For example, Thailand is famous for great strikers, America is known for wrestlers, and Brazil tends to turn out great jiujitsu practitioners. Does that mean Japanese like to stomp heads? (Kidding…sorta). I think the dominant styles are emerging in ebbs and flows. There was the age of jiujitsu, then wrestling, then well-roundedness. We don’t always see a fighter win from bottom closed guard nowadays, whereas that used to be a great place to set up a submission. We don’t see wrestlers ‘lay and pray’ like they used to, by only holding someone down to prevent them from getting up.
I think the current trend is to have fantastic anti-wrestling or take-down defense (see Chris “Actionman” Curtis) and light up the opponent on the feet. The Unified Rules encourage this by being biased towards strikers, as well. They say takedowns, ground control, and positional dominance don’t really matter unless the taker-downer can inflict damage on the opponent. I might have won my split-decision last fight if the rules gave me more credit for my take-downs, and didn’t say that my strikes weren’t “significant,” while hers were. We threw almost the same amount of punches.
It’s true I fought in a lot of organizations, in the States and Japan, that didn’t have the unified rules. My grappling skills usually won me the fight, when I did end up winning. I admit I haven’t been watching world-wide MMA over the past five years, but I think dominant styles would indeed emerge around the rule-set of the promotions in the country.
If you’d like to submit your own questions for ‘Dear Roxy’ feel free to email me at email@example.com, with the subject line “Dear Roxy”, or reach out on twitter @RoxyFighter with the hashtag #DearRoxy. Or simply leave your questions in a comment below on Bloody Elbow. Look forward to hearing from you all soon.