Just joined this forum. This is a topic i have thought about alot, and i can't say i have come up with any sort of definitive answer. I have been doing brazillian juijitsu for a few years. I have not really done much of the striking part of MMA though.
From my own experience I can say that i didnt really notice an improvement on the mat until i started doing Ross Enamait's workouts. Before that i had been lifting weights for several years, mostly body building routines in the beginning and then more full body compound lifts type of workouts. At 5'10" 155 lbs i was never that strong, but i wasnt overly weak. To my knowledge not many of my grappling partners never trained with weights, but i never felt i had a significant strength edge.
A few months after doing some of the various strength and conditioning routines out of Ross's Infinite Intensity i had people commenting that i felt super strong on the mat, and asking what i had been doing. I find it funny that the Ross stuff had made a big difference, while a few years of weight training had not. With Ross i was maybe doing one day a week of maximal effort strength training. I think perhaps my body learned to function better as a unit due to the new stimulus of the various bodyweight exercises and drills.
That was back in Florida and now i live in Portland Oregon and train at Straight Blast Gym. I have been here about a year and love it.
Matt Thorton, who runs Straight Blast, used to train with Randy Couture and has said that Randy doesnt have an especially big bench press. Like someone said above i think alot of grappling is about being to display sub maximal strength for a period of time. If i am taking someones back i need to be able to establish my grips with my arms, get my legs in, and control them. This is very taxing, especially when someone is trying their best to escape.
I do think some level of maximal strength is necessary, for example if someone can only bench or squat half their BW then obviously brining up their level of strength would help.
I ran this by Ross at some point, because whenever i see a chart of strength standards i always am curious where i measure up, even though my goal is improved juijitsu performance, not gym numbers. Here is what he said.
"I have not seen the numbers or tests that you are referring to, but I will offer a few thoughts about the general premise. I have worked with some WORLD class fighters who are weak in almost every sense of the word when put up against most "strength athletes", but who punch like mules with devastating power and literally man-handle their opponents. They are not competing for fitness events, so will likely never accomplish many of the elite fitness tasks. Sure, some guys will do very well (eventually), but the general fitness work is never the primary goal. These men get paid to knock people out and win fights, not to become the next pull-up champion.
Keep your eyes focused on the real goal which is victory as an athlete. The other accomplishments are great, but for a competitive athlete, do not expect extra points with the judges with a high number at the gym."
Link to the thread:
I am currently working through Ross's 50 day program and i like it alot so far. I feel strong, and my conditioning on the mat is great. Against guys my own weight i very rarely feel like i am being overpowered due to strength. With guys 20-30 lbs heavier i do feel a difference. When i lose its usually to technical superiority or conditioning.
So that is just my experience. I'll see how i feel after finishing Ross's 50 day program.
I think it would be interesting to take a bunch of high level MMA fighters and test their max lifts.