The ability for a fighter to prepare with training partners who can simulate their opponents can be a tremendous advantage come fight time. It’s one of the reasons fighters who have faced the world’s best have had so much trouble against these dominant champions. No one can prepare you for GSP’s takedowns, Machida’s karate, Fedor’s transitions or Silva’s muay thai. A fighter may think he’s ready, but he’s not and it doesn’t take long for him to realize it.
A perfect example of this was last Saturday’s Couture vs. Nogueira fight. Check out the video above. Minotauro Nogueira is sparring with Anderson Silva who mimics Randy Couture almost to a T. Would Nogueira have been as effective against Couture as he was without a partner like Silva? Maybe, but you can’t deny Nogueira was better prepared because of Silva’s uncanny ability to simulate other fighters. Leading into the fight Randy talked a lot about his preparation for Nogueira’s ground game with his BJJ coach Neil Melanson. Would have Randy been able to escape Nog’s submission attempts that so many other heavyweights tapped to without having someone like Melanson mimic Nogueira in the gym? Maybe, but mental and physical toughness alone isn’t going to get you out of one of world’s best heavyweight submission artist’s choke holds.
On the flip side, a lot of people questioned Frank Mir’s decision to train for Brock Lesnar with someone smaller like Forrest Griffin. Mir figured Brock wouldn’t want anything to do with him on the ground so he trained for a striking battle with a smaller, faster striker while Brock concentrated on staying out of positions on the ground where Mir could catch him. Look how the fight turned out. Brock didn’t give him an easy opening for a submission the second time around and instead used his size and strength to pin Mir against the cage and pummel him. Mir later admitted he took the wrong approach in training.