MMA Chess

Do you remember that time Holly Holm went all Garry Kasparov on Irene Aldana or when she pulled that Magnus Carlsen on Ronda Rousey? What's that you say? You did not know what level and type of chess game she was playing in order to adequately compare it to those two greats? Now, taking that tongue out of the cheek, a more straightforward question. How would someone know if a fighter was playing chess versus checkers if they did not know what high level chess looks like?

This writer has mentioned before that it is probably not completely fair to suggest that fight fans have nothing valuable to say simply due to them never having fought before. It is probably also alright (olive branch extended from this ex chess player) for fighters to speak of aspects of fighting or particular fights as reflecting chess or a chess match as opposed to checkers whether or not they have played the game. It is an idiom more so than an educated statement after all in the fight context. But there is actually something to it if said fight-related folk wanted to dig deeper. There really are parallels.

This is a fact: A chess board after three moves – white, then black constitutes one move, not two (did you know that?) – can be in nine million different positions. Yes, you read that right. White opens (always), then black, white, black, white, black = nine million different possibilities. As awesome as that sounds and as effective as it is to show how deep chess is, it is also a lot like MMA in that a whole bunch of those nine million positions are essentially worthless and never entertained by real players. There are tried and true fundamentals that dramatically narrow the options down in chess. Just like in MMA, where it is not going to happen too many times that Fabricio Werdum is going to run and deliver a flying kick to Travis Browne's head or Jorge Masvidal is going to flying knee Funky Ben Askren into oblivion, there are not going to be lots of surprises in those first three moves. There are standard openings that have stood the test of time.

Masvidal Knee

The bigger lesson here is not so much how chess and MMA are alike or different – though a great discussion is in there somewhere no doubt. It is more that in order for anyone to know that, they have to know both things. It is impossible to intelligently compare two items when you only know something about one. Fans of MMA love that first "M" a lot. The sport has evolved so fast that there are few people who in just a few years will have not trained in the whole panoply of MMA from their start. This doesn't even take into account those outliers who may be called technical brawlers that somehow play checkers and chess simultaneously – for review go watch the recent fight with Carlos Condit and Matt Brown. It will be truer than ever that those who refuse to adapt and evolve will indeed be playing the equivalent of checkers while the next generation plays chess. Suggestion for anyone who wants it: Just like Georges St-Pierre surprised everyone with taking up gymnastics and pro boxer Juan Miguel Marquez took up ballet to improve his footwork (I'll let you decide if a movement coach is a good idea), go learn a little of the game of chess. Whether it makes you see more in MMA or not, it is a good use of the old synapses. And then at least if you see some chess-like action in a cage, you can say it and mean it.

Dr. Craig's Martial Arts Movie Lounge

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ONE Championship has announced its return on Friday, August 13, with ONE: Battleground II. The event, which has been previously recorded, will feature five mixed martial arts bouts.

At the top of the bill will be Eduard "Landslide" Folyang welcoming Zhang Lipeng to the Circle.

The debut match for Zhang offers him a massive opportunity against a former ONE Lightweight World Champion. The pivotal matchup in the lightweight division will position the winner for a possible contender's bout later this year.

Another World Champion will see action in the co-main event.

Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex "Little Rock" Silva returns to the Circle against Miao Li Tao, who hopes to knock-off the #5-ranked strawweight contender and jump into the official ONE athlete rankings.

Also in action, heavyweight striker extraordinaire Alain "The Panther" Ngalani meets undefeated Thomas Narmo in a matchup that will surely provide fireworks to be remembered.

In flyweight action, Eko Roni Saputra looks to build on his four-bout winning streak against China's Liu Peng Shuai. The Indonesian grappler has looked sensational as of late and can continue to make his case for flyweight contendership with another stoppage victory.

Opening the card will be a lightweight match between India's Rahul Raju and Mongolia's Otgonbaatar Nergui.

The previously recorded event can be seen on Friday, August 13 on Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report YouTube, and the Bleacher Report app at 8:30 a.m. EST/5:30 a.m. PST.

ONE: Battleground II Card

Eduard Folayang vs. Zhang Lipeng

Alex Silva vs. Miao Li Tao

Thomas Narmo vs. Alain Ngalani

Eko Roni Saputra vs. Liu Peng Shuai

Otgonbaatar Nergui vs. Rahul Raju

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