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What Level of UFC Fighter Could I, an Average Guy, Not Die Against?

Here’s what the different levels of fighters might do to you, and how bad it’ll get before you tap (or, y’know, bleed out)

How tough are UFC fighters, really? What about a novice jiu-jitsu newbie? Can the average dude, whose last and only fight was back in their teens (in which he may or may not have landed a decent punch) actually stand a chance against someone who chooses to spend their free time training for combat? How would it go against a UFC star whose entire career and fame was earned through his diligent mastery of the ability to absolutely fuck up all comers of similar size and weight? In short, in the battle of UFC fighter vs Normal Person: What happens? 

Alongside Zack Moore, a purple belt in jiu-jitsu who trains with top UFC fighters in Austin, Texas (and is an NFL salary cap expert), we game-planned this out just for fun. It’s tiiiiiiiime!

Okay, UFC fighter versus normal person. Is there any difference in how long they’ve been doing it, really? Or will any level of fighter fuck me up?

People who practice the sport really bristle at people’s portrayal of mixed martial artists as being a bunch of brutes, rather than tacticians — it’s a lot more of a chess match than people understand. Moore says there’s an extremely wide gulf in ability, knowledge and style not just between the different levels in a martial art, but between everyone in general. “[Black belts] are speaking a language I don’t understand, as a purple belt,” Moore says.

Even if an accomplished guy knows what he’s doing, as Moore does, he’s totally helpless against a high-level black belt. The ones Moore will train against can tap him out five or six times in six minutes! Against an average Joe, “They’ll basically tap you as quickly as they want to tap you at that level,” he says.

 If we’re talking about a white belt in jiu-jitsu — someone who’s been at it for a few months — Moore says they could probably tap out the average guy three times in six minutes. A purple belt? Maybe five or six times. But a black belt against an average guy? As often as every 15 to 20 seconds! “And that’s just jiu-jitsu,” Moore says. “When you get into MMA, it’s how quickly can they get their hands on you. How quickly can they find an opening for a strike? How long are they gonna play with their food, essentially?”

How are the different levels of fighters going to take me down?

Against most levels of fighters, it really depends on the person and what their strengths are — i.e., what their best moves are. A jiu-jitsu practitioner will try to get their hands on you, while someone with a boxing background might aim to corner you and tenderize you into a reddish, swollen pulp. But it also depends on what they know about you. A black belt knows what a purple belt knows how to do, but they also know exactly what a purple belt doesn’t know, so they’ll use that to their advantage. It all depends on what moves they know and what their training consists of. Since the average guy knows the square root of jack shit about jiu-jitsu or much else, you’re probably fair game for everything, pal.

So I’m even screwed against just a dude who does jiu-jitsu as a hobby, got it. How much more screwed am I in the UFC fighter versus normal person scenario?

Moore predicts they’d simply try and overwhelm you — go for sensory overload, whether that’s with punches, kicks or grappling. It obviously wouldn’t be hard for them: They’re looking for weaknesses to pounce on. Hell, some top fights are over in under a minute for this reason. 

How quick is it gonna be for me, then?

Probably even less! As little as 20 to 30 seconds, Moore predicts — that is, once you get tired of running away. “Just imagine the quickest knockouts you see in the UFC,” he says.

Who’s gonna hurt me worse — a novice or a real UFC fighter?

Oh, there’s every chance you’ll emerge relatively unscathed against a UFC fighter, as opposed to finding yourself in World War III against a novice. “That white belt you might go up against doesn’t necessarily understand the complete context of how to move and operate their body,” Moore says. He tells a story in which he was recently practicing against a black belt, which was all very controlled, while on the mat next to him were two white belts flopping around like fish, during which an injury could’ve happened at any moment.

“A black belt has executed the arm bar, the choke or the crank so many times that they do it in the proper way because they also want to keep their training partner healthy, and they’ve done it so many times that it’s second nature to them,” he says. “A white belt might get an Americana on you and freaking yank,” leaving you with a broken arm.

What would be my best hope for staying in the fight?

“The best hope would be just running forward and throwing some crazy right hand from Jupiter that is so out of control,” Moore says. “Sometimes a fighter who knows that he’s going up against a more skilled fighter might force it into a brawl, because they know that their opponent’s ability to scientifically dissect their game and create situations that are completely unfavorable to them is very high.” Suicide mission it is, then! 

In short, a novice might injure me while a top pro will just toy with me?

Yep. In all honesty, stepping into the octagon against a trained fighter is a situation best avoided. It seems as if the options are either fighting for your life, or getting it over with. Either way, it’ll probably end quick! And very likely not in your favor. In the battle of UFC fighter versus normal person, normal person doesn’t prevail without a miracle of biblical proportions.