Is Ring Rust in MMA a Real Thing?

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If you are just joining an MMA course, you are bound to come across this question often – is ring rust in MMA a real thing? It is real, and many sportsmen and sportswomen suffer from the same. Ring rust has nothing to do with the MMA fighting ring or, more aptly, the Octagon. If you have been away from a particular sport for a year or more and feel that you have lost your mental agility and sharpness, that’s ring rust!

is ring rust in mma

Ring rust, in general, should apply to any sport. Imagine that you learned to ride your first bicycle 30 years ago. You haven’t since then, and you are planning to try it out again. So what are your chances for a spill? Ring rust is similar to that. You would have lost that mental sharpness that made you stand out among all the competitors.

For the record, Ring rust is also one of the main reasons Connor, a specialist fighter, lost his fight to Dustin Porter. Everyone had expected Connor to win, but he participated in an official match after a long gap. Connor’s defeat was chalked up to ring rust in MMA. As you know, confidence, sharpness, and agility are often the key to MMA bouts. That’s why you must understand the dangers ring rust poses. Go ahead and read on!

What is ring rust?

Ring rust, as mentioned earlier, has little or nothing to do with the Octagon. Rather it’s more about losing confidence in yourself, your skill, and your techniques. It has been a while since your last bout, so it is bound to impact your current one. Sure, some label ring rust to be nothing but a work of imagination. Yet, if recent MMA fights are anything to go by, ring rust is the real deal, and you would be well advised to take preemptive actions against ring rust in MMA.

Ring rust can be termed as losing one’s mental sharpness and agility. If you have not taken part in any tournaments or bouts or, for that matter, any one-on-one combat for a while, then you run the risk of ring rust in MMA.

There is no specific period involved that’s thought to cause ring rust. Generally, it is believed that if you have not taken part in any physical bout for long periods, it’s enough to cause you to experience a loss of confidence along with mental agility and ability. It is usually defined as  ‘ring rust.’ You are bound to experience this physically as you attempt to take on your opponent in the Octagon after a while.

Ring rust: why do you need to worry?

Granted that some disbelieve this theory, holding firm to the assumption that ‘ring rust’ is but a figment of imagination. Even a simple analysis of MMA matches over five years should underscore that ring rust in MMA is real. It s neither hype nor is it a by-product of an overactive imagination. If you are asking yourself, ‘what’s the worst that can happen with ring rust in MMA,’ then you need to read on.

Now imagine that it’s been a while, say three years, since your last bout. Now, you are gearing up to take on an opponent in an official MMA tournament. You have decided not to get too worked up over the issue of ‘ring rust.’ After all, what’s the worst that could happen, right? That’s wrong, and here’s how.

The chances are your opponent already knows that it’s been a while since your last bout. And he would also know that you run the risk of ring rust. So you will likely make more than a few mistakes during the bout. Naturally, your opponent would do his best to turn the screw and ratchet the pressure while hoping you would make more than a few wrong calls.

The last thing that you would need on your plate is to worry about your opponent’s pressure tactics. Remember, ring rust can do more harm than merely cause you to lose your game in the tournament. It can lead to permanent bodily harm/ injury, which you must be concerned about.

Why does ring rust happen?

Now, that’s a Multi-million dollar question. Not kidding; not if you take the time to calculate the various MMA matches with surprise endings caused mainly by ‘ring rust.’ As an MMA fighter, you must understand ring rust happens to some of the top professional MMA fighters. More importantly, you need to know why ‘ring rust’ often occurs and its mechanics.

Before you can hope to resolve it, you first need to look under the hood and determine why ring rust occurs. The human body is a wonderful machine, thanks to evolution over billions of years. Today, you can stand up, walk, run, exercise, and even throw an odd punch or two. In fact, the human body is designed with the fight or flight syndrome. Now, imagine yourself way back in time, when your distant ancestors had to make do with saber-tooth tigers, mammoth-sized crocs, and sharks, to name a few.

Fight or Flight

The reason that your distant ancestors survived their close encounters with various species is on account of the fight or flight syndrome. Moving back to the present day, you can bet that your long absence is bound to impact your professional career as an MMA fighter.

After all, you complete several tasks daily as you head to your office. You get to perform these tasks like clockwork and with perfect synchronization. That’s mainly because your body remembers what to do and how to do it. This is why you could automatically throw roundhouse kicks or even a jab to the thigh, solar plexus, or even the ankle with precision. 

Now, if you were to take a long gap from professional bouts, chances are that your body would forget to perform flawlessly.

If you are set to perform in the Octagon again, you would definitely need a tune-up and tons of practice to go with it after a gap. The whole point of these exercises is to jog your memory and get it to remember. That’s why a tune-up before any major bout is essential, even though it can be hard to recreate or stimulate the actual bouts.

That’s why you do your best to remain an active combatant since, as an active MMA fighter, you would be able to spar effectively and determine your opponent’s range better. When it comes to being an MMA fighter, you are bound to learn early on that “distance and range matter.” Naturally, if you remain active in the MMA circuit, you are bound to fight seamlessly while getting a better read on all your opponents’ range, thereby being able to land efficient blows.

How to deal with ring rust?

Ring rust is purely a physiological condition that exists for real, irrespective of the naysayers. While some may claim that “it’s all in your head,” they are not wrong, either. Yes, it is all in your head and how your brain processes memory. For example, you may not have ridden your bicycle for decades. While you may remember the mechanics of how to ride one, you would still be bound to fall down as you try it out.

When it comes to skills, you would be surprised to learn that your brain often retains the memory of the same. The same would apply to how to fight in an MMA bout, how to gauge your opponent, how to counter aggressive moves, and how to make some of your own. While the memories are stored in your head, translating the same to actual action on the ground is entirely different.

For example, let’s assume you are getting back into the ring, under the neon lights and the public gaze. After five years, you are all geared up, about to clash with an opponent. Sure, you remember all the MMA techniques and the moves in your head. However, remembering or visualizing the same is not the same as translating to action on the ground. The fact remains that ring rust in MMA will impact your natural game, which your opponent will pick up on immediately. But does this mean that you are pretty much helpless regarding ring rust?

How to resolve ring rust

Granted, even though ‘ring rust’ is a physiological condition, you are bound to experience it, after staying away from the Octagon for a while. Here’s how you can handle it – sure, you can provide yourself with a pep talk and boost your confidence before any official bout. Remember, the naysayers are often the ones who claim that it’s all in your head?

ring rust in mma

You just need to take those words and turn the lot on its head. In simple terms, try and resolve this psychologically. As you may have figured out, ring rust is more of a mental block, one that’s instinctively put up by your body as you try and recall an old memory. Sounds corny, right? But it’s all true, and that’s why you need to overcome this mental block before getting back into the Octagon.

Think of your brain like your laptop, and you are trying to access your MMA techniques, especially after a long gap. Now, you need to find a way to overcome these mental blocks, And the only efficient method is with a tune-up session and continuous practice. You may even want to participate in a few real fights before heading to the Octagon for the MMA tournament.

You are bound to find that a few fighters do not seem affected by ring rust. That’s basically because they have been more active as an MMA combatant without any long gap. So you got affected by ring rust; that’s tough. What you do next all depends on you. You can either get back into practice or participate in more than a few tune-up games at the Octagon before the main event. Or you can continue denying that ring rust is a real thing. In that case, you will lose the bout within a few minutes.


When it comes to ring rust in MMA, you are bound to find it all too real. As a combatant, you would naturally need to go the extra mile to ensure you are all prepped up. If you are getting back into the sport after a long gap, you may have to take preemptive actions to avoid ring rust. You need to understand that where ring rust is concerned, the problem is purely physiological and that there’s no “magic pill” on the market to cure it.

The phrase “it’s all in your head” should underline how you can overcome a case of ring rust. It would be best if you dealt with these psychologically. You can take it one step at a time – starting with your practice sessions. Review your opponent’s performance and see if you can figure out his strategy. More importantly, try to go a few rounds in the Octagon before the main event so that you are ready to take on your opponent head-on, ring rust or not. 

Remember to remain calm, poised, and prepared for action as you enter the Octagon. Read your opponent within the first few moves – that should be enough for you to develop your strategy and counter his moves. This is what ring rust is all about and how to resolve it quickly.

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