Is it Worth Training Greco-Roman Wrestling for MMA?
With its very distinct set of rules, forbidding the use of legs or any holds below the waist, should you train any aspect of Greco-Roman Wrestling for MMA?
Created in the 19th century by a Napoleonic soldier, Greco-Roman Wrestling was one of the sports of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. With very little in common with ancient Greek Wrestling, the style requires immense physical strength and exceptional technique, but is there any value in Greco-Roman Wrestling for MMA?
First let’s take a look at what Greco-Roman Wrestling entails. Wrestlers are only permitted to use their torso and upper body to take down their opponent. Attack on or with the legs are not permitted. The aim is to take your opponent to their back with both shoulder blades touching the mat at the same time. Pinning both shoulders for one second is an automatic win. points are awarded for takedowns, escapes, reversals and exposure (having your opponent’s back to the floor without pinning the shoulders). Overtime or rule infractions result in Par Terre (clinch) with one wrestler on the ground and one in a dominant position. This functions in a similar way to EBI overtime rules. In summary, Greco-Roman Wrestling shares more traits with Judo that most other grappling forms, but without the gi and no sweeps or submissions.
But what use is Greco-Roman Wrestling for MMA?
On the face of it, there seems to be little of use to an MMA fighter as compared to Freestyle or Folkstyle Wrestling. The strong points of Greco-Roman are throwing, slamming, lifting and pinning. All of these have a place in any MMA fighter’s arsenal and since they are done without a gi, are trained without the grips used in Judo or Jiu Jitsu. Having a strong pinning game is a great asset for MMA, but being able to throw and slam with extreme strength and power opens up superb knock out possibilities. The most iconic of which, the suplex, is done with bone-jarring efficiency in Greco-Roman.
There is certainly some value in Greco-Roman Wrestling for MMA, with fighters such as Chael Sonnen, Randy Couture, Dan Severn, Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland all having had international success in the Greco-Roman arena. While being skilled in the sport alone will not bring a fighter any glory in MMA, as a part of their arsenal, Greco-Roman has some strong techniques that bring a lot of power and explosiveness in the cage.