The importance of wrestling in MMA with Mehdi Bagheri

Mehdi apllying a suplex to his opponent in one of his MMA bout.

Monarchy's wrestling coach, Iranian Mehdi Bagheri has been on a roll since his MMA pro debut on Ultimate Beatdown in July 2016. He is now on a four-fight undefeated streak with fights across 3 different South East Asian promotions. Mehdi still fresh from a huge win recently via 2nd round submission choke in Thailand will be looking to extend his streak in 2018.

Mehdi getting the win (by RNC) at Full Metal Dojo 15 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Those with a wrestling background have historically done very well in mixed martial arts. Demetrious Johnson, Daniel Cormier, Tyron Woodley just to name a few and Mehdi is essentially walking the same path in his young MMA career. Despite, the rising popularity of wrestlers like Ben Askren among the South East Asian region, Mehdi still feels there's a lot of improvement needed in the wrestling department,

"Unfortunately in this region wrestling is not grown yet, which helps the fighters with wrestling background win easier here. Wrestling knowledge is a must in MMA and many fighters in this region are not aware of it," - Mehdi Bagheri

Unlike his home country Iran, which has given birth to numerous Olympic champions since 1952, countries in South East Asia are lacking behind. Quoting American Olympic wrestler and coach Dan Gable "Once you wrestle everything else in life is easy", Mehdi continues on the evidence of wrestling being dominant in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Mehdi teaching the national team in Iran.

"If you look at UFC, the biggest MMA promotion in the world, there are a lot of wrestlers fighting there. Any wrestler, Olympian, NCAA, if they show interest in MMA, UFC would sign them in a heartbeat compared to other athletes. And most of the wrestlers are successful inside the UFC such as Romero, Dan Henderson, Daniel Cormier and many more," - Mehdi Bagheri

Every wrestler that Mehdi quoted, has one thing in common. They all have knockout power. Mehdi believes that the reason why wrestlers have knockout power is that it's easier for grapplers to transition and learn striking than the other way around. 

"About the knockout power, for example, if u bring a striker and teach him wrestling it takes a long process to adopt, on the other hand, a wrestler can adapt to strikes easier.' - Mehdi Bagheri

A thought has been thrown about among MMA fans that wrestling neutralizes BJJ in MMA, recent example like Tyron Woodley vs Demian Maia, however, Mehdi feels that it is not necessarily true. He feels that both departments are equally crucial in the cage. 

"I always said wrestling and BJJ are brothers. A wrestler can learn BJJ easier and faster and use the wrestling techniques and pressures in BJJ. There are many common techniques in these two as well. To know wrestling and zero knowledge of BJJ fight in MMA might be risky because if a wrestler does not know BJJ he might end up getting caught in a submission." 

"The scariest thing in MMA is a wrestler with high-level BJJ". - Mehdi Bagheri

Mehdi after getting his BJJ purple belt under Monarchy MMA BJJ headcoach Bruninho Barbosa