Team Fighting Championship, the next step in MMA

Team Fighting Championship seems to be the next step in MMA: fighting multiple opponents.

This isn’t the first attempt at competitive team fighting I’ve seen, but it is one of the most brutal ones given what seems to be allowed. I tried to find some more information about the rules (if any) but didn’t see much. For now, it seems like pretty much anything goes until the referees stop a fighter.

Take a look at this fight (it starts at about 2min.) to see what I mean and I’ll give some comments and a personal opinion afterwards:

If you want to see more of these videos, check out their Youtube channel.

There are a couple of things that stand out in this fight. I’ll cover those first and make some predictions afterwards. Here goes:

  • The fight is short. Unless the organization cut out a lot of footage, it’s over in about 45 seconds. This is not uncommon in multiple opponent scenarios, especially when all involved are committed to taking the other ones out.
  • Old school fighting seems to be the norm. I don’t know if this is because of the rules but the tactics they use are very old school. Melee combat is one of the oldest forms of warfare there is. In some ways, it’s the most instinctive behavior for groups to fight each other: they start on two lines, clash and it becomes chaos.
  • MMA dueling mindset is dominant. In this fight, it all starts like a typical MMA match, which I believe happens because this competition is still so new: two fighters close in on each other and start striking, which quickly turns into a clinch or takedown and then they hit the ground where they start grappling. Which brings me to my two following points.
  • Ground grappling sucks against multiple opponents. Watch the fight again and you’ll see that the fighters go willingly to the ground and resort to classic MMA grappling techniques and tactics. The problem is that these tend to take time. Time is in short supply when you’re dealing with multiple opponents. While you’re busy controlling the guy in your mount position, a second attacker can clobber you from behind. Or if you try to pull guard, that second attacker can beat the crap out of you while the first one keeps you busy. Watch this video again, you’ll see what I mean.
  • There is no real teamwork. They run at each other and whoever they end up fighting, that’s who they focus on. MMA-type fighting is exactly that: a duel . But this type of competition isn’t a duel, it’s a group fight. For now, these fighters don’t seem to have realized it. See below in the predictions what I think will happen eventually.
  • Lots of tripping and running. Having ten people fight all at once creates chaos. Notice how much running around and tripping to the floor happens. The more people are engaged in a fight, the more of this kind of thing you’ll see. You can’t just circle your opponent because you might circle right into his team mate. So the footwork is a lot more panicky here.


And now for a few predictions:

  • More team tactics: One of the things they’re bound to find out is that 2-on-1 from the get go instead of clashing 1-on-1 might be an interesting tactic. Here’s why: The first team to get one opponent down has a numerical advantage. As soon as they have it, they need to exploit it before the other team evens the count or ends up with superior numbers. So this competition is in essence a race to get the first man of the other team down and out. You can achieve this so much better if two fighters focus on taking one opponent out immediately. We’re bound to see some interesting opening moves as well as different tactics during the fight in the future.
  • I doubt it will take off in other countries. I can only imagine the outrage in the US or some European countries if a local organizer would try to set this kind of thing up. So I really doubt it’ll go somewhere on a larger scale.
  • It’s a matter of time… Before the injuries and/or death’s start piling up. So far, the referees seem to have things under control but the very dynamic of multiple opponents means cumulative damage can be dealt out so much quicker than in a 1-on-1 situation. It doesn’t take much to throw that one blow too many. My guess is politicians will be waiting in the wings for just that opportunity to make this sort of competition illegal.
  • The next step is already here. The next step is of course multiple opponent fighting in a more urban environment. Oh wait, that’s already been done:

 How about fighting full-contact with practice weapons then? Nope, the Dog Brothers have been doing this for years:

OK, how about multiple opponents using real steel then? Not new either:

So all in all, this multiple opponent competition isn’t really new…

Some closing thoughts:

  • Mankind is violent. This is a truth only fools ignore because we have thousands of years of history proving it. You disagree? Look at what happens in the Middle-East every day. Or Crimea just recently in Europe. Or in Venezuela with the mass-protests. That’s only the macro view though. On a micro level, it’s even worse. If you can accept this, then a “sport” like this team fighting championship makes more sense as an outlet for aggressive young males. Competing doesn’t mean they won’t be violent in society in general, but every fight they do in a competition is one less they do in the street. It’s a harsh point of view, I know.
  • The moral issue. Is this something we want in a modern society? I can’t decide that for you, you have to make your own opinion. Personally speaking, there are much worse things that nobody seems to mind enough to protest against, but I find them repulsive: the knock out game, class justice or all the adulation the contestants  of the gazillion reality shows get. If you want to get upset, get upset about those things just as much as this competition.  I believe they are far more damaging to society in the long run than a bunch of guys getting together and mutually agreeing to beat each other’s skulls in. But that’s just me…
  • Where will it end? So what’s next, gladiators in an arena fighting to the death? Who knows? It wouldn’t surprise me, though I hope we can be civilized enough to not go there anymore.

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  1. Rollerball, the 1970’s version, will be the next step.
    Enjoy the posts.

  2. Hi Wim, I would allow the competitions without the kicks while someone is on the ground basically the UFC rules that are in existence at the moment as the body has less ability to ride the blow while on the ground given the power and body weight that can be put into the kicks if held by someone else. I think individual events will still garner most attention and will last longer eg singles tennis is more popular than doubles tennis. The rules are in the frequently asked questions in the link you gave above. Which are to be as close to real combat as possible but no blows to Adam’s apple, groin kicks, biting and spitting. I’m glad they have the five referees there to ensure no one takes too much punishment.

    About the duelling mindset: I was swayed for a short time about this hunting like a predator idea but once the element of surprise is lost or you are not ambushing someone then you are going to have to duel/fight your way in to get the opportunity to land a technique/restraining hold if de-escalation is not working, you can’t retreat further and your exit is blocked or you need to protect someone as they are unable to or if you have a duty to act because of your job. So now I think sparring or duelling mindset is invaluable to find the gap albeit you maybe can’t follow through completely with finishing techniques or restraints due to rules. I believe techniques were more secret in the past and the element of surprise greater on the defender’s part and hence the secrecy in the old days among martial arts but now that is not the case.

    Also, the going to ground thing: May be it’s a gamble that they hope maybe their colleagues will finish their opponent and help submit or in this case beat their opponent.

    About the last closing thought, I would not support at all people fighting to the death for people’s entertainment. I’m fine with what is happening at the moment within the combat arts as they are ways for people to test themselves and they are courageous for doing so. For me and other fans, it is about the action and skill of the opponent and not the damage caused. A good comment I saw on facebook: There are fans of martial arts and there are fans of violence. I would say that most are fans of action/martial arts and not seeing someone incapacitated which incidentally should lead to good self defence situations as it would lead to the appropriate use of force by most martial artists as long as they take some thought to look at self defence laws or listen to yourself or other authors that most people who follow your blog must know. Also, to bolster my case about people not wanting to see gladiators fighting to the death: On Panorama (documentary type program in the UK), they were talking about US marines and their training and how unnatural it was for them to kill willy nilly or no good reason however if they changed this to protecting one another then it became permissible for them to use lethal force if necessary. I feel it would be the same for most of us. :-)

    • Hi Marc,

      Some quick thoughts:
      – Thanks for pointing me to the rules, I missed that when I looked at their site.
      – Nothing wrong with dueling, it has its place. But ambush and counter-ambush are different animals IMO.
      – I don’t think big promotions featuring death fights are gonna be happening soon. But then again, I’ve been wrong before. :-)

  3. It dont have any connection to MMA, big missunderstand by organizer because he didnt said anything about origin of it.
    It come from organized fights by football hooligans firms from early 2000’s, all teams in this tournament are firms of specific football club.
    To see how look such organized fight type in YouTube: ustawka

    • Gotta disagree with you here, Otti. I’m well aware of those organized fights and they’ve been going on much longer than early 2000. That said, this organization uses basic MMA rules, similar to those from their early days, which is where the connection is.

  4. I’m glad I stopped by tonight Wim!

    So much good fodder to choose from. Wow the team mma fighting was like a couple of mass fights I’ve been in. and true they don’t last long.

    I think you are right if they continue – strategy will start happening. It was good for many to see why ground fighting is bad. I think I saw four guys on one near the end.

    The modern version of not chivalrous Knights pretty much seemed to do well by running fast and knocking the unaware down… then axing them.

    So we are not so noble sometimes? :)

    Thanks for the massive entertainment!


    Hey Wim,

    What are you thoughts on the fight between Sonnen and Silva??

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