The transcript below is from the video “Bruce Lee vs UFC | How Would He Do?” by TheWeasle.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

How would Bruce Lee do in UFC” is a question that is always asked when talking about MMA. I will break down how well Bruce Lee would do against the best fighters in the UFC and what he specifically brings to the table.

Bruce Lee and MMA. That is a question a lot of people have been asking for a very long time. Mainly because there’s a huge comparison in between both MMA and the thinking of Bruce Lee and what he was teaching. And that it’s not just one style. People who stick on one style will have a huge disadvantage in every situation when it comes to combat, self-defence, competition…everything. It’s a fluidity of styles that give an advantage to everybody. And that’s what MMA is.

MMA, ‘Mixed Martial Arts’, is pretty much exactly that, even in its name. It’s a mix of martial arts. It’s a fluid form, and that’s what Bruce Lee was teaching for a very long time. Not only did he know wing chun, karate and everything like that, he knew some judo, he knew some fencing. He studied very different kind of martial arts, even unorthodox martial arts that many MMA fighters or martial artists in general, do not even think about learning from. Which makes the mind of Bruce Lee among or probably above every other martial artist that has ever existed.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

And one thing that I have to elaborate on first before I even get into this whole thing is, a lot of people make this argument for Bruce Lee, that he wasn’t an athlete. He wasn’t a fighter in competition. And he didn’t train for competition, which is 100% true. He never saw a competition as useful in his abilities to actually practice martial arts. Martial arts for him was more for self-defence and just dealing with real combat situations with no restrictions. And that is how he trained. He trained with no restrictions. So, things in MMA that are illegal, Bruce Lee would capitalize on that if it weren’t a real fight situation, right? Which puts him at more of an advantage in those areas. But it could also hinder some of his abilities as well. Such as if he chooses to gauge the eyes when someone has your back, that is probably one of the worst things to do in that kind of situation and maybe, this is speculation here, maybe Bruce Lee would actually try to go that route. So, it could give him some advantages such as low-blows and headbutts and other things like that. But it could also hinder some of his capabilities and situations he’s never really been in. His hours of practice and confidence in those skills, in those, ‘illegal strikes’, he could probably be thinking about using those techniques for when he shouldn’t be using them.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

It’s almost like a boxer walking into a kick-boxing match and him using what he learnt and using what he practiced for a long time. And he takes his boxing stance. He throws his punches like a boxer and everything like that and he starts getting leg kicked. He starts getting head kicked and he doesn’t know what to do about it. It’s a very similar situation here. It could prove useful in some situations but could also hinder his abilities. In short, Bruce Lee of course does not really compare or at least he’s not to the level of the top MMA fighters today or even some of the mid-range MMA fighters today.

The simple, general answer is because the evolution of martial arts, the advancement of martial arts and not only that, they also learn from Bruce Lee. The martial artists today were not ignorant and arrogant like the ones back in the day because now everybody wants to learn from everything. Just a lot of those old school mindsets that my way is the best, this way is the best, everybody else’s doesn’t work. But there’s a lot of martial artists today that evolved from that and now they learn from Bruce Lee. So, pretty much they have his techniques at a higher level. And not only do they understand some of Bruce Lee’s techniques but they also mix that style and their understanding of his techniques with other martial arts that creates something entirely different that Bruce isn’t going to be able to comprehend it or defend it on site at the moment. He would need to be able to study these things and then get a better understanding of it. It’s almost unfair for Bruce Lee to be put into situations against the top MMA fighters fifty years later. Their understanding and the evolution of the martial arts in general puts these guys at a complete advantage over Bruce Lee. But let’s break this down a little bit more to get a better understanding.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

Now we talked about the mental state and mental abilities of Bruce Lee and I believe everybody agrees how high-level or how above everybody else he was in that area. But what everybody is talking about is what are his actual skills? What is his physical skills deal, and what does it compare when talking about fighters today?

Now Bruce Lee was around 40, fifty years ago, sixty years ago and his prime, I guess as you would say would be around 40 years ago in the 70s. So, that is a long time ago. And when you talk about UFC, UFC is the highest calibre of combat athletes in the world, right? You talk about UFC 1 where it all started. UFC 1 started in 1993. So, you are talking about a 20-year difference. And Bruce Lee and the first UFC fighters. And the first UFC fighters were also very one-dimensional. So, in that mental area, they were actually behind Bruce Lee. Which is crazy to think about. Twenty years later, martial art is even in the UFC like Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock and other fighters like that. Their thinking and their utilization of martial arts was even behind Bruce Lee, twenty years ago. Which showed how far he was in this game. And not only that. Bruce Lee actually thinking that also translates to his physical abilities. Because in thinking that of course is going to make him actually act on that, right, physically. So, it’s only logical to think so.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

Okay, the thing we do know about Bruce Lee, there’s a lot of enigma, there’s a lot of unknowns about Bruce Lee. And his actual abilities. But we do know about Bruce Lee is he’s extremely fast, he’s a big guy for his weight, he’s around, what, 145-135 in weight, but he is around 5’7 in height, makes him a very big person at that weight. Look at the UFC fighters today. He would actually be deemed a flyweight. If you were to cut weight that is like flyweights do. Flyweights weigh around the same weight as him. And the flyweights in the UFC are around 5’3, 5’4, 5’5 is like where you are starting to get a little bit taller. So, he would be a huge fighter in that weight. He was extremely fast. He has some of the fastest kicks I have ever seen. His ability to just snap his kicks up out there like that is extraordinary, right? And with that speed you are going to have to have form. His form and his kicks like his roundhouse kicks, his sidekicks, you could not debate were absolutely almost perfect. You could see from his demonstrations. You could see it from his movies. You could even see it from that one sparring video that he had with some of his students. And that’s a very different event than everything else he has shown. You could actually see him throwing some of his techniques out there, but his form was excellent and with the form that’s where the power comes from. If you don’t have the form, the power can not translate. Right? You needed a bridge for that power and the bridge is the form in the technique. So, he has all those physical attributes that contribute to a good fighter, right? But those aren’t the most important attributes.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

The most important attributes are how he deals under the pressure. How mentally strong is he in these situations? How was his endurance? How was his ability to take punishment? How was his ability to actually learn and adapt inside of action? Now these are things we actually don’t know too much about. And this is a lot of what questions Bruce Lee’s actual abilities in a combat situation, competition or anything like that. We have no proof of any of that outside the sparring video. In the sparring video I did make a breakdown of that. If you guys have not seen that. I recommend you guys watch. It explains a lot of what Bruce Lee is able to do in there.

But those are what discredits, not discredits. A lot of people want to confuse discrediting with not actually knowing. If you don’t know you can’t just discredit. So, we actually don’t know how he deals in those kinds of situations. You could make your assumption, or you could make your conclusion after looking at that sparring video. There is still some grey lines there. One, they were his students. Two, they were in gear. And three, it was sparring. It wasn’t them actually trying to hurt each other. But you see many times in there, he was doing techniques out there that could have ended many fighters. The sparring problems were dipping the line, he was throwing head kicks at them. His form. His speed. Everything like I said before, was excellent in that sparring video and it’s timing and precision was there as well. But when you talk about fighters today, fighters today have a better understanding of martial arts. And that is in general. No one can really debate that martial arts only advances. It only evolves.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

In 1993 and on, was the biggest growth in martial arts in history. I believe. There was never a rapid raid of evolution in marital arts like that time period. You saw UFC 1. So many one-dimensional fighters. So many fighters that only did one thing. And then you go ten years later, you go to 2003, you saw a huge difference. You saw guys like Chuck Liddell, you saw guys like Vitor Belfort, you saw guys like Anderson Silva, you saw all the fighters like this utilize different kinds of martial arts. Not just one. And they were effective in that. Vitor Belfort is one of the reasons why people started to change. And started to mix with martial arts because he was one of the first to do it in the UFC. Being more of a versatile boxer, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu kind of a fighter. Which gave a lot of one-dimensional fighters a huge fit. Then you go 10 years later to 2013. Now you are starting to go on to some very futuristic kind of stuff here. You start to see Demetrious Johnson, Dominick Cruz, T.J. Dillashaw. You start to see Conor McGregor, come out. You are starting to see all this talented new era of fighters come out. You look at that and you have to think, okay. Bruce Lee is not on this level.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

Now, getting into more technical approach here. Bruce Lee in his striking abilities, I believe, could even compare to some fighters today a lot of the grapplers especially. Because everybody today has every kind of martial arts under them. They know how to grapple. They know how to strike. They know how to clench. They know how to wrestle. Everything, right? Looking at the form and the motion, the momentum and how they throw strikes. His ability to throw the sidekicks. His ability to throw the oblique kicks which was popularized by Bruce Lee and hasn’t even been in the UFC until recently. You’ve seen some do a few of them but they were really utilized today by everybody. And that is what forty years later after Bruce Lee made them popular. But a lot of people discredited his kind of techniques because they saw them as ineffective. But now the best fighters today like Jon Jones, like Conor McGregor, and other fighters like this, are utilizing his techniques. And they don’t have this kind of background that he did.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

So, it shows his ability to come up with techniques and utilize techniques that are effective even today. And that translates to everything else he does. His side kicks are outstanding. The ability to chamber the leg and lift the knee up above instead of below and keeping his heel above his knee. That is the better form to throw a more powerful and fast side kick. His roundhouse kicks have no telegraphs in them. He throws them from his stance. Very different form Wu-Tang fighters. And this kind of technique doesn’t have as much power but has way more speed and way less telegraphs. So, it could be deemed more effective and his ability to not specifically counter his opponents. He is way better at intercepting them from their movements. Especially with that lead hand of his which comes from some of his styles but also comes from his fencing studying. He gives a very fencing kind of a stance like you saw on the sparring video. But this could be a hard thing to do that today.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

Now Bruce Lee doesn’t really go forward. He is really good ability to move around elusively if he chooses to, but he likes to stay flatter and see the opponent’s reactions and see what they are trying to do. Because he is more of a counter fighter. I guess you would say. He is not an aggressive kind of a fighter. Naturally, that is. He is more of a make-you-throw-something and make-you-pay-for-it kind of a fighter. Which are some of the most dangerous fighters to actually go up against. But his footwork is a little bit far behind when you actually look at it. He would use some footwork like you see Muhammad Ali use. I mean, Bruce Lee did admit that he studied Muhammad Ali for hours and hours studying his footwork, his boxing skills…everything he does inside of a fight. He even taunts his opponents in there. You saw in the sparring video as well. And you can actually see that seems to be part of his nature.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

Mental warfare, which you see a lot of fighters today use as well. He probably got this from watching Muhammad Ali because it is very effective. But you see his foot work, something as he will mimic Muhammad Ali with switching the feet and keeping his feet narrow more than wide when he is being elusive. Now this kind of footwork that he uses and that balance but very static movements, that he likes to keep out there, it’s a little bit far behind. It’s a little bit too outdated especially when you compare to the elite fighters today that are his weight. You look at guys like Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw, Dominick Cruz. You see guys like this, their footwork is among the best I’ve ever seen in any combat sport. Their ability to switch their feet, switch stances. Now Bruce Lee has shown to be really good at switching stances at the covered distances or great distance and land strikes. Or create an opportunity to land a strike while doing so. But you see his technique, and you see his ability to actually do that it doesn’t compare to what T.J. Dillashaw is able to do.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

T.J. Dillashaw is the best I’ve ever seen at doing this in MMA. The same reason to do it but he does it a lot faster. He does it with a less tallow breathe, and he does it with less timing because of his stance in general. And the fakes in feints he throws out there. He doesn’t switch stances from these wide sideway stance. His feet are narrower in stances squarer with the opponent giving him less telegraph with the footwork. He never really knew what stance he’s in.

You see Dominick Cruz does a very similar thing but, Dominick Cruz’s footwork is constant. Which makes it hard to time. He’s always moving in every direction. He has like seven, eight different patterns inside of one footwork set. Which makes it so complicated and so complex to actually time and get used to. So, you see things like that, and the footwork actually causes a lot of problems for Bruce Lee. Because if you can get outside of that long stance of his, and you get on the outside foot, you can throw some feints at him to get him a back upper. Anything like that. It creates more opportunities for people like Dominick Cruz, like Demetrious Johnson to actually use something effective.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

And not only that, not only is the striking going to be a problem for Bruce Lee. Their grappling advantage because they are all actually grapplers by trade. Their grappling advantage in a fight with Bruce Lee, let’s say, is going to be huge. It’s going to be the deciding factor. Even let’s say, let’s just say for argument sake Demetrious Johnson is not as good of a striker as Bruce Lee. Him having wrestling in grappling in that threat to Bruce Lee, makes his striking more effective. And the reason for that is, it will make a guy like Bruce Lee, keep his mind on everything that Demetrious Johnson can do. He can take me down at this point. He can clench up with me and he will be very effective there. He can dive in for submissions on me. He can do all these things and while he is thinking these things, it creates more opportunities for Demetrious Johnson to land strikes on him. Because his mind is on all kind of different places. And his reactions will also be in those different kinds of places.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

You see this in Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was one of the best grapplers, probably the best grappler in MMA. And the striking is not the greatest not too great to be honest. But his threat of the take down, his threat of the grappling creates opportunities for his striking and he is able to strike with some of the best strikers in MMA like Edson Barboza. Because of that threat, that is the same thing here. Now the gap in striking is so much closer for Demetrious Johnson or Bruce Lee, I believe. So, it created a much bigger problem. The strikers would be always worried about the take downs especially if they get taken down early. Let’s say they get up. They are going to be even more worried for the next one. And this creates opportunities for the grappler. And the wrestling is at a whole different level than it used to be.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

Bruce Lee is not really a wrestler. I believe he won’t be able to grasp on to the techniques as well as he will in the striking. Now, we do know that Bruce Lee did study and practice judo and other things like that. I know more so of judo. But judo is not as effective at MMA, let’s say than B.J.J. or wrestling. Or even sambo, let’s say. Sambo, because it comes with strikes that are used to that when they go into MMA. But that’s yet. We still haven’t seen that yet.

A lot of judo works in close range, it clenches and everything like that. But when you fight guys like T.J. Dillashaw, Dominick Cruz, Demetrious Johnson, those clenches are not going to come easily. They are going to be taking down from a far distance with the wrestling and they’ll come behind strikes and setups and these take downs are not going to come like you saw from the guys from UFC 1 or in the UFCs after that. These fighters are not going to be shooting from a far distance like that. Especially against a guy who is a dangerous striker. They are going to set up behind punches, then a set up behind kicks with footwork. They are going to be feinting. Throw some strikes, feint, change levels to give that look. Come up with a strike and then shoot. I mean, there’s a lot of things that they can do out there that Bruce Lee has never seen before, right?

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

Bruce Lee is actually one of the first ones to think about that. Throw strikes, and then go under for take down. Believe it or not, Bruce Lee’s actually one of the first ones to think about this. But that game, that theory of Bruce Lee was advanced so far ahead to a point which I don’t even think he would understand it or at least be able to defend against it. I mean, these fighters also learn from Bruce Lee. It’s not like they learn from everybody else and don’t know anything about Bruce Lee. They also know about Bruce Lee and his capabilities and his philosophy and his theories. And they advance that. So, it’s like they have Bruce Lee’s techniques but at a higher level. And then the grappling is in a whole different level. B.J.J. was only popularized in 1993. That’s when it got huge. And Bruce Lee, I don’t think but I could be wrong, but I don’t think he actually understood or even knew what B.J.J. was. And now B.J.J. is one of the most important aspects in combat sports ever. And that is something that he will almost completely lack in almost every UFC fighter will have over him.

The Weasle (In-Depth Fighting Analysis):

So, all in all I will have to say Bruce Lee is not too comparable to fighters today. It’s a whole different time and him being able to actually compare somewhat to these guys and especially in areas surpass some of them like I believe is striking. Just his striking is better than Nurmagomedov’s. When you talk about the overall game and how that changes the striking advantages. Then it’s not too present. That’s when you start to see a huge leap over Bruce Lee from these MMA fighters. Bruce Lee in all just doesn’t really stack up to these guys and that’s not a knock on him. He was fighting and learning forty, fifty years ago. I mean, to even compare him to today is outstanding for him cause you can’t compare anybody else, right? You can’t compare Chuck Norris. You can’t compare any other person. All these guys you can’t really compare them to today. But I do believe Bruce Lee’s mental ability to actually think about martial arts and actually change martial arts for so many people and his mental abilities to actually translate to his physical abilities is among the best. I mean. He’s able to think about things, learn abut things, teach himself things that people today can’t even do. So that is the most important thing about Bruce Lee, I believe.”




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