A Cognitively Demanding Sport

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I wasn’t expecting to get hit with a UFC spoiler while checking Eric Falkenstein’s finance-oriented Falkenblog last week, but he gave a good rundown of the Lesnar-Carwin fight — and he made a larger point that I often make when discussing MMA:

I know many consider MMA to be rather base because it seems so savage, but its strategy space is large, necessitating skills in boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu. This makes it fun to watch. Several champions have undergraduate degrees in real subjects (Shane Carwin, Rich Franklin, Chuck Liddell), unlike boxing. Recently, the seemingly invincible Fedor Emelianenko was submitted by a jiu-jitsu specialist, highlighting that in a sport with such range, everyone can get beat because no one is best at all three (wrestling, striking, jiu-jitsu), and any one of these skills can be decisive if you don’t defend it intelligently. It’s a relatively cognitively demanding sport.

Two of the younger, less famous Gracies — Ryron and Rener — analyze the grappling end-game and what Shane Carwin should have done against Brock Lesnar:

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