Whenever you go in to engage your opponent there will be a standoff distance where neither of you can get a grip on the other. It is from this distance that you will step forward and go into grip fighting and once grips are locked - the battle begins. It all begins however, with the control/management of that initial distance from which you began. LEARNING TO MANAGE THIS DISTANCE AND MAKE IT WORK IN YOUR FAVOR IS A BIG PART OF WHAT DETERMINES YOUR SUCCESS OR FAILURE IN THE INTIAL PART OF THE MATCH. You want to play with distance in a way where you can prevent your opponent easily getting his or her preferred grips on you, whilst jockeying for position and distance that enables you to safely and effectively get your own preferred grips. This takes some experience and skill. Make things easier for yourself by developing a clear understanding of
1 - What you want to avoid from your opponent.
2 - What you want to initiate your attacks with and what grips will be necessary to do that.
Try to avoid being static as you play the distance game, but don’t move around so much that can’t maintain the distance you need to attack. Here, Georges St-Pierre, the greatest master of distance in MMA I ever saw, plays the distance game in grappling (very different) with talented junior Frank Rosenthal. Both athletes have an idea of what they want and of what they need to deny the other fellow - now it’s time to step forward and engage!