Good thread. The other day a guy at my work told me that training in MMA wouldn't help you out in a street fight because on the street "it's real and not a sport". He went on to say that even trained fighters would just throw haymakers in a real fight.
He could have been on the right track if he didn't mean something else. MMA is not the perfect training for self defense, because self defense consists of much more than just fighting. For a good self defense concept you need first of all awareness training so you don't get surprised by a danger (because if you get surprised the fight usually is over before you even know you're in a fight). Secondly you need training of social skills to raise your empathy and to be able to deescalate a dangerous situation (from most of the trouble you could talk your way out if you're smart enough). Only then comes training for a physical confrontation. That's where MMA comes into play. It's not the best choice, because there are quite some differences between MMA fight and street fight (on the street you and your opponent are usually not almost naked and sweaty -unless you're in some kind of sex club
- weapons may be involved, there could be difficult environment and multiple attackers), but MMA is still a good choice, because it's full contact and trains the general fitness - so it gives a physical advantage. - and finally a self defense concept also needs a little juristic knowledge so you know how far you can go and you don't end up as "the aggressor" at court and subsequently in jail.
And your co-worker has been somewhat right that even trained fighters would throw haymakers in a real fight. Almost everybody, also trained fighters, goes into caveman-boxing mode if the pressure is high enough. The difference is that trained fighters still have a higher probability to hit their target and they can support more pressure than the average guy.
Don't be silly, it's a law of averages. There are tough people everywhere, some people are born tougher than others. MMA is not some strange cult where all the hard headed freaks end up, they are more used to getting hit because they get hit all the time.
It's both. On the one hand as MMA (or any full contact martial arts) training (and fighting) is physically and mentally quite hard, only a certain type of people feel attracted to it. On the other hand the training also actually trains
to become harder. So it's no wonder that the average MMA fighter usually is tougher than the general average guy, but that doesn't mean that only because someone trains MMA he is automatically tougher than everyone else. I remember reading an article a couple of years ago about a high level MMA fighter who got into an argument with a construction worker on the street. The argument went physical and the construction worker just knocked the MMA guy out.