Interviewed after his victory at UFC 131, Dave Herman set the MMA chat-rooms ablaze by proclaiming Jiu-jitsu essentially ineffective: "I honestly really don't think [Jiu-jitsu] does [work]," Herman said. "If you have any knowledge at all of Jiu-jitsu, it's just not going to work. If you literally have never heard of anything and have no idea what they're doing, OK, kind of like the first UFC, yeah Jiu-jitsu works. It's kind of like trickery, basically. If you have any idea about any of the tricks, it's just not going to work, unless you're a complete idiot and fall for it."
Is this true? Or just some Chael-Sonnen-style insults for the microphones?
For my part, I think Dave "Pee Wee" Herman is sincere, and believes what he is saying. To answer the question for myself I dug around for some data:
In Pride events, roughly 30% of all fights ended in submissions, with KO/TKO getting about 35%, and the judges deciding the remaining fights (with the exception of a rare draw or no-contest.)
In the UFC, The Flyin'Hawaiian compiled the stats from UFC 31 (the first Zuffa PPV) through UFC 90 and discovered that out of 546 fights in the octagon, 138 ended by submission, 225 by KO/TKO, and rest going to the judges or ending in odd ways.
Obviously, the data doesn't lie. Jiu-jitsu works. (Note: these stats do not include the first 31 UFC events where BJJ stormed the combat sports community and even had Dana White and the Ferrita brothers wanting to train it.) Sure, Jiu-Jitsu is tricky; and of course BJJ practioners want you to "fall" for it. But every discipline in combat sports has feigns and misdirection as a foundational element, even Dave "Pee Wee" Herman's beloved wrestling. The thing is, as you all know, there are countermoves for everything, even for your countermoves. And arguing the pros and cons of different styles and disciplines is what makes MMA and sports in general so engrossing.
For example, I am currently enjoying an on-going argument with my Jiu-Jitsu coach* over a favorite ground and pound technique. Here goes: In the guard, on your knees, feign a guard pass by reaching back to unhook the top foot of your opponent, then throw a hard punch or elbow to the face from that loaded, coiled position. Lots of fighters run this technique. My coach, however, having an extremely fast triangle and a slick rubber-guard, is convinced it is dangerous and should not be risked against an opponent with a developed guard; because, if you reach your hand back there he is going to disrupt your base and get a Free New York or throw up a triangle fast! We go back and forth, arguing the benefits and risks. I love ground and pound, and believe in it. He loves Jiu-jitsu (traditional and 10th Planet), and believes in it. And debating the different philosophies is just, well, awesome! We both love this sport!
Of course, as anyone with sense can see, I am obviously right, and he is woefully wrong. Because, thanks to that one-man-think-tank Dave "Pee Wee" Herman, we now know that Jiu-jitsu just doesn't work (unless you are an idiot and fall for it.)
It is quite astonishing how many idiots we have in MMA. Tap, tap, tap...
*Jon Helton teaches at 10th Planet Charlotte