Here’s Why Cross-Training With MMA Fighters Will Benefit Your BJJ Game

From the beginning, cross-training in various martial arts has been one of the best ways to test your skills and development as a martial artist. While it may appear primitive to those who have a traditional approach (and mindset) to training, as the saying goes, iron sharpens iron. Getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations means getting out of your comfort zone; thus, it is a way to reach your full potential. Today, we will discuss how training with MMA fighters will benefit your BJJ game.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu In MMA

Grappling is an integral part of MMA. While some exceptions do not disprove the rule, it is essential to being a well-rounded mixed martial artist. To become successful in MMA, a fighter must know how to grapple, as even defending against takedowns if you’re a striking-based fighter requires familiarity with grappling.

While all matches start from the stand-up, a good BJJ practitioner knows how to take the fight to the ground. BJJ takes its course on the ground, beginning with its dominance to submit the opponent. Let’s watch the video above and witness it for yourself.


Benefits Of Cross-Training With MMA Fighters

As a BJJ practitioner, training BJJ with MMA fighters will help improve your all-around game and vice versa. Below are some ways training with MMA fighters will transform your BJJ game.


Quicker Pace

MMA training is grueling. Professional fighters train multiple times a day, including how they approach their strength and conditioning programs. Therefore, fighters are used to the faster pacing of a match, as whoever controls the pace of the fight has better overall control and can most likely dictate the outcome of the fight. This allows them to set up attacks according to their pace, as it is a huge part of fighting strategy.

As a BJJ practitioner, putting yourself in the deep waters of moving at a high pace will, in turn, build your endurance for the grappling exchanges and scrambles. Relatively, MMA fighters are generally athletic and will likely not easily concede getting put in a disadvantageous position as it means exposing them in a vulnerable spot to get ground and pounded in a match, which leads to the next point.


A More Realistic Approach

As Henry Akins said, BJJ should be trained at least once a week with strikes, not to hurt your training partners but to make them aware of potentially dangerous positions. Often, BJJ practitioners get comfortable in certain positions that can be dangerous when used in a real-life scenario. This can build a bad habit of exposing yourself to strikes, but at the same time, it allows you to work on techniques and the primary goal of BJJ, which is to get the top position and hold the opponent from there.

Adding strikes to your BJJ training will help you identify what techniques may work in a self-defense scenario and what will not. This, in turn, helps simplify your game and remove the ‘fancy’ techniques that can sabotage your position and put you in a vulnerable place. Doing this will help tighten your skill set and not only revolve around the sports aspect of BJJ.


Relentless Pressure

Training with MMA fighters can help build your relentless pressure, especially when competing on the mats as a BJJ competitor. Building this mat aggression helps with the confidence to constantly move forward regardless of a failed takedown, guard pass, sweep, or submission attempt. While having a playful environment is when we learn more about new techniques and do them effectively, changing this environment to a higher intensity leading up to competitions will allow you to test your repertoire to see if you can stick to them under pressure.

In addition, most MMA fighters are adept with takedowns, as all MMA matches start from the stand-up. Working with them by drilling techniques from the stand-up can build your all-around grappling skill. Partner this with relentless pressure, and you’ll take down your opponents quickly. You can swiftly pass their guard once you’ve done so.


Positional Awareness

MMA fighters are among the toughest combat athletes. Training with them not only filters the bad habits but also helps you identify the submissions that work and the ideal go-to positions. For example, from a training perspective, while an MMA fighter may endure an armbar attempt and likely find their way out of it, transitioning to a choke like a triangle may be a better option as chokes are generally more effective than joint locks when submitting an opponent who is determined not to be taken out.


Working On Escapes

Most of the time, an MMA fighter’s goal in cross-training with BJJ is to help them become a more well-rounded fighter. While it benefits them to become better fighters, some may not be working on sport-specific BJJ techniques like the De La Riva or Deep Half Guard. Instead, they would work on positions where they can safely pin the opponent without risking getting reversed or swept while being able to rain down strikes on their opponents. This means that they will be working on dominant positions like the full mount, back and side control, or work their way out of inferior positions like the turtle, closed guard, crucifix, or bottom mount, side control, half guard, and back.

Doing positional drills with them by exchanging who gets the dominant or inferior position will make you better by working on your escapes and improving your control when holding an aggressive opponent in such positions. Knowing that you can escape the majority of inferior positions you may land in will give you the confidence to relentlessly hunt for submissions in your grappling matches.



Taking an open approach to training with different athletes or martial artists is a test of one’s grappling abilities. Above all, in the pursuit of doing so and sharing the mats with others, aim to train safely and prevent injuries, as longevity is what entices practitioners to keep on training in the sport of BJJ regardless of age.


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