–Kenny Rice

The origin of the sport, the simple yet brilliant concept that attracted fans in the 1990’s and since, is the basic which fighter will excel: a stand up specialist or a ground expert?

It has remained the backbone of MMA since it was introduced to the North American audience. Beginning with the legendary Royce Gracie’s amazing ability to submit men much larger than he via Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with emphasis on angles and pressure points, it became the must learn aspect of the martial arts to succeed in the cage or ring.

Is that changing? Current UFC champions Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones and Frankie Edgar all were outstanding collegiate wrestlers in their transition to MMA. Dominick Cruz has a base in wrestling to compliment his Muay Thai skills. Even Georges St. Pierre, while a black belt in BJJ, is such a strong wrestler than he has contemplated trying out for the Canadian team in the 2012 Olympics.

Of the six title holders, only Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo are loyal to primarily Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

It certainly isn’t the end of BJJ in MMA, far from it. But it is a trend that has been noticed by the next most famous Brazilian brothers behind the Gracies, the Norgueiras.

Former PRIDE and UFC Interim Heavyweight Champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira said this week on Inside MMA, “Wrestlers hold you in the half guard and make it hard to sweep. I believe jiu-jitsuĀ  on the ground is still a strong game, what we are seeing is more wrestlers who have gotten better at striking to counter this.”

His brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, “Little Nog” to fans, is a Pan Am games bronze medalist in boxing as well as a UFC light heavyweight. “Now everybody trains in everything. These good wrestlers are also good at other parts of MMA. It’s not one thing over another.”

Both brothers are coming off loses to former college wrestling greats, Rodrigo to Velasquez and Rogerio to former Penn State star Phil Davis. They concede in each case their BJJ talents were countered in each set back.

“Wrestling didn’t beat me,” Rodrigo or “Big Nog” laughed. He was knocked out by Velasquez in the first round. “But what wrestlers are doing now is playing a lot in the cage more than ever, the game is more physical because of them. They are strong and more technical and try to eliminate the angles (for BJJ).”

After losing a unanimous decision to Davis, Rogerio went back to work at the famed BJJ hot bed Black House gym. “I plan to work more in the cage, wrestlers are becoming very good and handling themselves around it with their angles. And I plan to work more on my stand up game. Again everybody must learn everything to be good in this sport.”

A compliment to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was recently given by Davis after his victory over Rogerio when he showed up for a training session at Black House with Team Nogueira in San Diego. “Everyone who has been great, wants to stay great, continues to learn,”says Rodrigo. “That’s what it is all about in this sport.”

That is the continuing evolution of an authentic mixed martial artist, and the sport has never had more of them than right now, thanks in large part to the learning of how to defend the influential Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game.

Check out the Brothers Noguiera along with Marloes Coenen as they join Kenny and Bas on Inside MMA tomorrow night at 8PM ET on HDNet, Your Home for MMA

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