If I had to pick one sport that most closely resembles CrossFit I would pick the UFC. The UFC and CrossFit started from humble beginnings. Over time, the two sports have evolved to have more in common than you might think.
The UFC was started to find out who was the toughest man on the planet, and establish what style of fighting was the best in the world. At the time Royce Gracie brought Gracie Jujitsu to the masses. In the early days many questions were answered, like who would win in a fight a boxer or a wrestler.
Evolution of the sport
As time went by the answer to that question drastically changed. The best fighters in the world no longer had a one dimensional background, they had to be completely well rounded. While some might be slightly better at striking or grappling (ground fighting) every top level fighter has a great combination of both.
That being said, because every fighter must be extremely well rounded and focus their discipline in many areas, the top UFC fighters don’t specialize in one skill.
UFC of today
John “Bones” Jones is one of the world’s best UFC Fighters. However, he would never win a gold medal in Olympic wrestling, nor would he take a championship as a boxer. That is because his focus needs to be having no weakness rather than being the best in one specific area.
Because of his well rounded fighting style although Jones isn’t the best wrestler or boxer in the world he would very likely beat the best wrestler and the best boxer in the world in a fight.
This is because he is training all aspects of his fighting game eliminating weaknesses and improving his strengths.
The UFC 2013
The Early days of CrossFit
CrossFit started out as a sport where some naturally very athletically guys could step up try the sport out and make it to the CrossFit games their first year (or even their first month) just by having great endurance or great strength. In fact in the first years, I believe the games were an open event that anyone could join prior to regionals.
Jason Khalipa CrossFit Games 2008
Today being strong, or having high levels of endurance is not enough. You have to train every expect of the sport. The sport has evolved and so have its athletes.
Today being strong with great endurance is not enough. You need to be well rounded with great technique and ultra high levels of efficiency for every single aspect of CrossFit. You need brute force, olympic lifting skill, great gymnastic abilities and extraordinary high levels of efficiency.
Just like John Bones Jones won’t win an Olympic wrestling match, Rich Froning isn’t going to win an Olympic weightlifting event, a marathon, or a powerlifting meet against the best in the world. That doesn’t mean he isn’t extremely good in every area, however he will never be the best in on specific event because of his well rounded nature. Just like Jones would crush specialists in a fight, Froning will crush any of the above athletes in the sport of Fitness.
CrossFit and the UFC have evolved into sports where you cannot have any weaknesses if you want to be the best. To be the best the you must specialize in that specific sport (either CrossFit or UFC) which means an extremely well rounded background and training regimen. You need brute force power, technique, explosive power, skill, endurance, durability of your body and smart training to be elite.
As the years unfold I look forward to watching the sports and athletes of both sports grow in talent and skill.