Exploring the physical and physiological characteristics relevant to mixed martial arts
Strength and Conditioning Journal
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research / Graduate Research
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport encompassing multiple methods of victory, including knockout, submission, and decision. Although research exists investigating physical and physiological characteristics important to MMA success, there is no consensus on the characteristics essential to performance and best practice for the assessment of such characteristics. Understanding the range of potential competitive approaches to MMA, it is difficult to determine 1 single physiological profile. Strength has been identified as a predictor of performance in combat sports, including MMA, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). Aerobic and anaerobic conditioning has been explored in combat sports, including BJJ, judo, boxing, kickboxing, and MMA, and has varying relationships to higher-level performance. Repeat effort ability, flexibility, and body composition have also been investigated, but there is a lack of depth in the literature. However, the use of other combat sports literature is not ideal and must be considered critically because of the complexity of MMA. Because MMA has multiple potential competitive styles, the previously mentioned characteristics may vary between successful athletes. Given the multifactorial nature of competition and methods to victory in MMA, further investigation into the physiological and physical characteristics should be undertaken for the advancement of the sport.