Mir recently won a huge upset over Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira to take the title. The interview hints at how technical the sport of MMA has become. Fighters have to master different ranges of striking (kicks, knees, elbows and punches) as well as grappling (throws, takedowns, the clinch, submissions, striking on the ground), drawing from disciplines like boxing, muay thai, wrestling, judo, and jiujitsu.
See below for fight video and some Hahn training video.
Nogueira was training with Forrest Griffin and Wanderlei Silva for this fight; that’s all the people he trained with. Those three guys just got together and hugged each other while I had Frank train with reputable professional boxers - one heavyweight and one light heavyweight. Then I had him spar with kickboxers, wrestlers and Olympic-level judo players.
When you have a chance to train with so many different high-level guys, there’s just no way around improving. ...
We had access to pro boxers. … Not guys that just turned pro. I’m talking about top-30 pro boxers. These guys are legitimate, 10-fights, seven-KOs, legitimate guys. They are two Native American brothers. One guy is 175 pounds, and the other is 260 pounds.
So when you get both of those guys at pro level hitting him, he’s going to get punched the way it’s supposed to feel. He’s going to have the movement to where he can’t touch you. Why do you think his distancing got so much better? When he has to chase down pro boxers that move and slip, you start figuring out the same thing.
If you roll with a champion jiu-jitsu guy, you’re going to go, “Whoa, this is different.” But the more you train with him, the more you pick up. ...
I think just offering up different types of fighters for Frank was important. Sometimes I would feed him guys that weren’t that good so he could get his skill level up. It’s one thing to train with the best guys, but you have got to use those guys efficiently. You can’t spar with them all the time or they will beat you up. You can spar with them once every other week.
The other times, you need to be sparring on [crappier] guys so you can build your confidence and work on stuff without paying the ultimate price. Try to work on new stuff with a really good guy, and you’re going to end up getting knocked out. Try it on the [crappy] guys and they don’t have the skill level to make you pay, so when they do tag you it’s not going to be that bad. But if you go against a pro boxer and you drop your hands trying to do something, you’re out cold. ...
Basically, I watched an entire history of his [Nogueira's] fights twice, and then I developed my strategy. The only guys that he submitted were guys that didn’t have jiu-jitsu, and the submissions came toward the end of the rounds when his opponents were tired. But everyone knocks him down, so you can definitely land punches on him.
And when I was watching “The Ultimate Fighter” and saw Ryan Bader sparring with him and punching him in the face, I was like, “Wait a minute. If Bader’s doing that, you’ve got to do the same thing.” And if he’s not respecting the punch, then he’s not respecting Frank until he gets roughed up. So now when you go back and watch videos, you can see how many mistakes Nogueira makes. I noticed a lot of important things the second time I watched his fights.
Here's some video of Hahn teaching a combination.
MMAJunkie.Com - Ken Hahn "The Ultimate Fighter" Blog
Clips from the Mir-Nogueira fight: