MMA Against Multiple Opponents, Part Five

I wrote about MMA against multiple opponents in detail in the past, but this fifth part sums it all up so well. Take a look at this video of a street fight that goes to the ground..


Here’s the full fight:


Now you can give me a load of excuses why this isn’t “real MMA” and how much these guys suck at it and why I’m wrong. I’ll even help you get started:

  • Their technique sucked.
  • They weren’t in shape.
  • They should have done technique X instead of Y.
  • GSP would kick your ass!
  • You just suck man, WTF are you doing undermining my self-esteem!
  • And so on ad nauseam.

I’m sure you can come up with a bunch more “arguments” but that’s not really the issue. Anyway you slice it, the young man was doing MMA when he hit the ground: he got side control, guard, tried chokes, ground and pound, the works. Granted, he didn’t do a good job of it but you didn’t see him try strategies from traditional arts.

The real issue is that this video illustrates what I’ve been saying for so long:

  • MMA is an awesome sport but it’s still a sport. I love MMA and all forms of full-contact fighting. If you don’t train in one of these sports, I think you’re missing an important piece of the puzzle. However, they’re still sports.  There are no multiple opponents in the cage or ring so you don’t train for it. And if you don’t train for it, how do you expect to do it instinctively on the street?
  • When you’re in the heat of the fight, it’s extremely hard to be aware of your surroundings. When you are on the ground, either looking straight up or down at your opponent, you see even less of what’s going on. Look at how long the woman stands there before she kicks. She’s right there and the guy doesn’t see it coming.
  • “But it was one on one!” Since when are there rules in a streetfight? Did you actually believe the participants would stay on the side when their side was losing?
  • It doesn’t take much to put you out if you don’t see it coming. One kick, not even a terribly hard one at that, from a woman is enough to send this guy to sleep. Imagine that kick coming from a big guy who’s stoked on adrenaline…

But the most important aspect is this:

Once you’re on the ground, unconscious or counting stars, that’s when the real problems start and you’re no longer in a position to do much about it.

Which is why you should avoid the ground in a street fight or self defense situation in the first place. It’s not that the techniques can’t or won’t work, it’s that there are inherent risks to it. Risks you can’t take away, no matter how good your ground game is.


Check out these videos:

Once he’s on the ground, the real damage is done. This is usually the case when you face multiple opponents. At one point, you’ll see the last attacker jump up to land a double foot stomp on his victim. The result: the man is now 95% disabled with both physical and neurological damage. Yup, once again in the awesome Brussels subway

Once punch is all it takes to put the guy on the ground and then the stomping begins. Apparently, this young man didn’t suffer any permanent damage but then again, his opponent only got a couple licks in, unlike in the previous example.


People have accused me of bashing MMA, on which I call bullshit. I love it, just as I love muay Thai, Sanshou and boxing. What I’m trying to point out is that what is normal in MMA (taking your opponent to the ground) is not something you want to do against multiple opponents. The videos above clearly show why it’s a bad idea.

Here’s the thing:

Every time you fight in the street or have to defend yourself, how will you know there will only be one opponent?

There’s no way to know that up front. So it’s safer to assume there will be at least more than one. Which gives you all the more reason to run away or end it right away so you can run to safety. Going to the ground accomplishes neither of these two goals.


Props to Johnny for this find.


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  1. Interestingly, Hollywood compounds this problem. You saw in the early martial arts films that the systems being showcased weren’t really built around multiple opponents, so when the hero takes on a room full of bad guys, most would mill around in the background waiting their turn. Jackie Chan and others of his generation have done a lot to shift that, but we still see lots of “martial arts” movies where it’s basically sport styles, arena rules, and often a little Hong Kong wire-fu physics as well.

    Plus how often does one strike down the guy in movies vs. real life?

    I’m as big a fan of action movies as you are of MMA, but see similar issues if people take it too seriously as combat arts.

    Remember in the Gifford shooting, how one of the citizens that tried to stop the shooter hit him with a folding chair (ineffectively, but it did distract him long enough for another person to jump on him)? How much you wanna bet he got that from watching pro wrestling?

  2. MuayThai8800 says

    I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said in this post. Just to back you up on this, here is a case-in-point story from someone who also knows his stuff:

  3. thanks Wim! this vids show only there’s no rules in a real street fight situation! For what I know,the fat woman may take a gun from her pants and shoot him in the face!(in US its very predictable a gun than a kick…probability!).
    We see what means to be heavier than your opponent too, cause don’t forget we’re watching a 35-40yo man vs. a 15-16yo boy, and the man earned that kick from the woman when he got superior position on the ground and began to pound hardly the boy’s face! Even after all the punishing punches he took before the “one on one” fight! With this vid you prooved two things:
    MMA sucks and Heavy matters when there’s no skills at all in a real fight situation!
    I learned it from you, someone will not agree with your point of view, but they’ll be wrong because not experienced!!! Thanks for the good post again!Have a nice week-end! ;)
    p.s.: can you comment this vid on your blog too,please? it shows a man with boxe skills facing 4 opponents in a street fighting situation:

  4. hi wim,

    totally agree with your points – i have personally seen too much head stomping when i was younger (very, very nasty) to disagree. I have a question though – do you think it is worth learning a few ground techniques (eg. guillotine or rear naked choke) and also learning defensive ground techniques that enable you to quickly stand up (e.g. sweeping, basic scrambling, sprawl) just in case you get taken to the ground and want to get back up, or you are in the rare position where you know there is only attacker. Personally, if someone was on top of me pounding my skull, i would rather tear at his groin, eyes or throat, then cast him aside (if possible), then run. all the standard ground and pound strikes (elbow and fist strikes) are fine but they seem more concussive and therefore can take a longer time to get full effect, using up crucial time, as opposed to more immediate damaging strikes like throat strikes, groin strikes etc. what do you think? – I’ve probably created a limited and somewhat unrealistic scenario so apologies in advance for any shortcomings. sean

    • Hard to say Sean, it all depends on a lot of factors. I think learning ground grappling is never a waste of time. If only to learn what kind of attacks you’ll face. The same goes for defensive moves and how to get up. The real issue is that MMA sees these things through the filter of prolonged combat, achieving a dominant position and doesn’t look at environment, weapons and multiple opponents. So you have to add these (and many more) things to your filter when you train. What makes it through will probably be worthwhile.
      E.g.: I once hosted a silat seminar and was practicing one of the techniques the instructor showed. In it, you trap your opponent’s legs, twist his body and then take him down as you follow him to maintain control. My partner didn’t want to play nice and tried to fight his way out of the technique. So I put a knee in his back as I rode him down, struck his chin with a vertical palm heel and snapped straight up as I cupped it on the rebound. I let go in time so he could feel it would have snapped his neck but I didn’t injure him at all. He got the point and the instructor laughed and explained something to him.
      Had I done MMA I’d have learned to dive on top of him and go for a rear naked choke or ground and pound him into submission. Which would have taken a lot of time and effort with the risk of him reversing the situation. My solution took half a second to complete and achieved the end of the fight before he was finished hitting the ground. But such moves are illegal in MMA so the coaches and athletes don’t consider them.
      My point is that if you look for MMA-type instruction for a self-defense oriented ground game, you often get a sports perspective. Even if it makes perfect sense in the cage or Octagon, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do in the street.

  5. Wow i am still in schock.
    That first video was pretty much some of the craziest stuff i have seen.

    Four people start to atack Lone ranger (LR).
    Instead of LR gething the f*** out of there he starts to engage them.
    It goes to the ground, he gets pinned, und kicked in the head.

    Then they release LR.
    I am thinking oke now LR runs away like crazy.
    Nooowwww, he starts chalenging one guy for a duel (wild west, samurai, UFC) to regain his lost honor.

    Again it gets a floorfight. Und as soon as he mantains a dominant position (half guard) the supporting mom/sister/girlfriend of the opponent soccer kicks him.

    Oh und no one of the people provided first aid or even puts him in a recovery position. He is lying there for three minutes on his back without someone helping.
    LR might just as easilly had swalowed his tong and suffocated.

    When i saw this i really fell of my chair.
    und the cameramen is laughing his ass of while two people beat the snot out of each other und one lies there unconscious.

    I think pretty much everyone there made horrible mistakes.

    As for MMA for self defense.
    Self defense is gething away, noth engaging someone in a fight.
    MMA trying to beat someone has in my opinion noth much to do with that.
    Even if LR had whiped out all of his agressors (with his groundgame), he would have faced charges because he was fighting noth defending himself.

    I think it is noth so much a question of that grappling works on the pavement. Buth more: why if your intention is to geth away, would you take someone down to punch him out or break his limbs. Und by that extending the confrontation und actively participating in the violence.

    From what i have seen of traditional Jiujutsu and Judo. Originally it was the idea of throwing someone on the floor und then immediatly go for a finishing move (ippon) joint lock/choke. Buth if people know how to defend against this finishing move, it gets a struggle und the one gething floored might reverse the situation.
    So i think that is pretty much where rolling/ne waza comes from.

    However these types of fighting come from a warrior culture (samurai) where disabling/killing the opponent was the purpose.
    If noth with a bow, sword, dagger then with your bare hands.
    However nowaday self defense hurting someone (und by that puthing ourselves at risk) is noth the purpose. It is to geth away while using minimum force to protect oneself (Noth exactley what LR did).

    That said i think grappling (standup clinching/groundfighting) wil prepare someone partially for a situation where one gets taken to the floor by someone who wants to controll, disable or kill one.
    Knowing a few tricks (eye gouge, groin shot etc) might noth be enough against someone who is hyped up and really pissed of.
    I think knowing some meachics to geth on top and gething away is better.
    At 0.52 i highly doubt if a eye gouge or groin shot would have helped him geth out of there.

    Anyway, pretty crazy video.

  6. Hey Wim,

    You are preaching to the choir to me. I did not ever fight on the ground as I was bouncing at a bar and you never know who was with who in a fight.

    As the lady so aptly pointed out with her ground kick – it does not take much to take someone out when they are on the ground.

    You have me a good laugh – thanks!

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