However, like all types of sport fighting, MMA was built by practitioners who favored one style of fighting over another. The invention of MMA is credited largely to the Gracie family, bringing their Vale Tudo experience to the States and defeating other traditional practitioners simply by exposing that relatively no one trained extensively in grappling. Those who dominate the cage today largely come from grappling backgrounds, because that's how the rules are designed. One can compensate for lack of striking ability by taking down their opponent and submitting them at a range where they don't have to be concerned about their glass jaw. Ronda Rousey was an excellent example of this. While she deserves full credit for paving the way for women's MMA, the world was exposed to the flaws in her fighting ability and she was knocked out. Quickly.
But what truly bothers me about MMA's claim to be as real as it gets is that their statement couldn't be farther from the truth. It'll never be as real as it gets until someone brings a gun to a knife fight. What MMA does really well is train you to calculate your opponent over several rounds, and if you can't out-strike them you take them down and fight for a dominant position where you'll be able to "ground and pound" or submit them to win the fight. Well, while you're rolling around on the floor, your opponent forgot to mention his buddies sitting at the bar who are now trying to stomp your head in or cracking bar stools across your back. He also didn't tell you about the pocket knife he had tucked away, and while you were transitioning into your spider guard, he pulls it out and stabs you until you look like a cheese grater
MMA fighters are highly trained athletes that are skilled at their craft, but MMA teaches you how to fight an unarmed opponent of similar body weight within a confined rule set for an allotted time frame. But if MMA isn't realistic for self defense, surely no other sport fighting competition could be either, right? Not quite.