We’ve seen a lot in MMA — blood, broken legs and bad decisions. But are we ready for tag teams?
It’s big in Russia, and the U.S. is showing interest.
While it may seem far-fetched today, the idea of a Road Warriors, Rock & Sock Connection or Four Horsemen competing inside the cage might one day become the next big thing in MMA.
Just like women’s MMA, it might take an outside promotion’s successful hand at the craft to convince UFC President Dana White to hop on the bandwagon, but we all know that the brash head isn’t afraid to change his mind at the drop of the dime.
Whether it’s inside a traditional wrestling or boxing ring in Japan, or inside a cage like in Russia and some independent U. S. promotions, tag team MMA takes mixed martial arts to the extreme.
It works just like traditional MMA, except each combatant has a partner he can tag if he gets into trouble. The partner sometimes is inside the cage, tucked in a corner, or if the fight takes place in a ring, he’s outside the ropes, just in pro wrestling.
When a member of a team gets close enough to his partner, he can reach out and tag him, or his partner can tag him, on any part of the body. At that point the fighters switch positions. They don’t have to slap hands discretely like Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty; they just have to make contact.
Like Roswell and Bigfoot in American pop culture, tag team MMA is still on the fringe of acceptance among MMA traditionalists, but at one time so was Ronda Rousey.
A smattering of links exists on the web that showcase tag team MMA, like this one from the Russian Arrows promotion, where a guy finished two guys in about 32 seconds.
Then there’s this one, featuring MMA fighters Jeff Curran and Rich Clementi.
And there can be a downside, as Clementi points out. Yes, you can tag out, but if your partner gets injured, a fighter theoretically has to fight two men on his own (one at a time) as Clementi did against Naoyuki Kotani and Hiroki Kotani.
“I tag Jeff in and he goes out there, I’m sipping on water and he turns around looking to tap my hand,” Clementi said in Ring Psychology interview. “I’m like ‘Yo bro! We’re getting paid the same and you haven’t earned your pay yet. Why don’t you go out there and fight a little bit?’ So I tag and I go and fight for about another minute and a half and I go to tag Jeff’s hand and he doesn’t want to tag in.”
Turns out in that fight Curran broke his arm in the first 31 seconds and could not continue.
Typically once a tag is made the fighters have 5 seconds to switch places. No fists to the head are allowed; only slaps.
It’s not likely that tag team MMA will light up the UFC or Bellator anytime in 2014 because the current MMA product works just fine and seems to excite fans. However, no one ever foresaw women’s MMA headlining a UFC card.
And based on the clips above, like a good Kimbo Slice fight, fans seem to enjoy the oddness and unpredictability of seeing MMA’s version of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard lighting up their opponents inside the cage.
What would have happened if Lyoto Machida had someone to tag just seconds before UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones turned his lights out?
Someday, who knows, we may find out.