In PRO MAI MMA we talk about to very distinct approaches to the striking aspects of MMA, one we refer to as an ‘open’ style and one we refer to as a ‘closed’ style. In my opinion Nick Diaz’s style perfectly demonstrates how incredibly effective the open style can be. This article is not about how to do an open style of striking but the fundamental principles are as follows; encourage your opponent to come straight at you by deliberately holding the guard in a fairly wide and open position and then when the opponent comes in straight you remove yourself the target from the straight line (think matador) and then counter attack at angles and from outside your opponents immediate field of vision. A closed style is essentially the opposite, the movement is very disciplined and considered with tight hand positions and a preference for straight attacks and pro active rather than reactive attacks. Frankie Edgar is someone who springs to mind as having a fantastic closed style.
Neither of these styles should be considered superior to the other and in PRO MAI MMA we try to ensure that student’s feel comfortable and proficient with both ways of striking. These two styles are very much yin and yang, a closed style can be a fantastic tactic for attacking an open striker and an open striking style can be the perfect antidote for someone using a closed style. It all comes down to who can implement their style the best and when you’re up against Nick Diaz you’re up against someone who more often than not can make his style work better than the opponent. Up until the moment Nick Diaz met Carlos Condit at UFC 143 this weekend all of his opponent’s have fallen directly into the open style trap – that is to say that they have gone straight at Nick Diaz, and they have come off worse. If he meets someone who doesn’t want to come straight at him then he’ll go further, he’ll put the hands right out wide and start trash talking, for most opponent’s this offer is just too tempting to resist and they attack down the middle just as Nick intended. This is another core principle that we teach in PRO MAI MMA, you don’t fight on your opponent’s terms – even if it’s what you love to do.
Apart from lots of skill the person who was going to beat Nick Diaz needed one thing more than any other – discipline. The discipline to not go straight at him even when he offered it on a plate, even when he postured and goaded and trashed talked. The discipline to understand that if you go this way you’re likely to come off second best, the discipline to know that however difficult it may be and even if at times it meant literally running out of these traps that you can’t get suckered into this space and you have to move round the outside of Nick Diaz’s attacks. This is what Carlos Condit and his camp brought to the table, a gameplan that didn’t involve going straight down the middle and then the discipline to stick to it even if your opponent called you a b*tch for doing it. Congratulations to Carlos for having the intelligence, the skill and the discipline to make this work. In my opinion he thoroughly deserved the victory.
There was one more big lesson to learn from the Nick Diaz Vs Carlos Condit fight – no one tactic beats all men. Nick Diaz came close with his amazing implementation of the open style but when we came across someone that had a superior gameplan he came unstuck. He was unable to switch his style, his tactics, his gameplan and even when he must have known that he was not being very successful he was unable to change it up. In the same way that long gone are the days where you could enter the Octagon with just one range of fighting (grappling, striking, wrestling or whatever), it doesn’t matter how great you are at any one tactic or style you need to learn others. In modern MMA you need to be able to implement more than one fighting style and more than one set of tactics, the competitors that can do this and switch from one style to another with ease will have a very bright future.