Boxing vs MMA: How are they Different?

As Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) grows in popularity, I’m frequently asked if Boxing or MMA is more helpful in training, self-defense, and health. I believe that both are equally effective. However, everything depends on the context.

I mean that both MMA and boxing may be useful depending on what you really want to achieve. Although there are advantages and disadvantages to training in both styles, MMA will often result in a more well-rounded fighting abilities due to the combination of stand-up and ground training.

Whenever it comes to competitive sports, there will always be a dispute about which martial art is superior to the other. I’m not going to attempt to persuade you that MMA is superior to boxing or vice versa. In this article, I’ll simply evaluate both and provide my honest view on the subject topic.

Also Read: Upcoming Boxing Fights of 2022 You Shouldn’t Miss

The most significant difference between these two sports is the scope of what is permitted and what is not. In boxing, you can only use punches, and you can only hit above the belt when you are punching someone.

On the other hand, almost anything is perfectly acceptable in Mixed Martial Arts where abilities like wrestling and jiu-jitsu may also overwhelm a boxer, apart from kicks and punches.

What is Boxing?

Boxing is a combat sport in which two athletes fight with their fists while wearing padded gloves in a square ring that has been roped off for safety reasons. In this game, the only goal is to knock one another out or dominate by accumulating points by strategic punch strikes over an allotted amount of time (usually 30 minutes).

What is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?

Full-contact MMA combat is a cage fighting sport that includes striking, grappling, and ground wrestling. It is a fusion of numerous combat sports and martial arts with origins in various parts of the world, including the United States. The combatants’ goal is to dominate their opponent via the use of multiple tactics like hitting, finishing grips, and control.

What are the Significant Differences Between Boxing And MMA?

When we think of Boxing vs MMA, it is essential to begin with the differences between the two sports.


Both sports differ when it comes to the number of rounds in a match. Traditionally, boxing battles may go up to 12 rounds of three minutes each, with a 60-second break between each round. If a bout goes on for too long, we may be treated to up to 36 minutes of high-octane excitement.

In MMA, battles are generally fought over three or five rounds. However, it depends on the type of match. Generally, each round lasts 5 minutes, with a 60-second pause.

Fighting Style

MMA entails more than just throwing punches with a fist. This style of combat incorporates and integrates a variety of fighting tactics ranging from fist blows to kicks, as well as kneel tackles.

In MMA, a wide range of fighting techniques is permitted. It is significantly different from its competitor sport, boxing, which only enables the use of arms and hands to knock out opponents or gain points.

As previously stated, MMA is a fusion of many combat systems. Armed and unarmed blows, boxing an opponent, or kickboxing; muay thai abilities; takedowns; ground combat; and submission are all permitted in MMA.

Also Read: 10 Boxing Tips and Tricks for Beginners

In contrast to Boxing, which only allows for certain types of punches, including jabs and uppercuts, Mixed Martial Arts allows for a wide variety of blows. Elbows, knees, kicks, and spinning backfists, are among the permitted attacks in mixed martial arts.

MMA athletes may win by incorporating several combat methods, such as Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, and Karate, into their fighting style.

Takedowns and submissions are also effective strategies for MMA fighters. Single-leg takedowns from wrestling and hip throw from judo are examples of takedowns permitted in MMA competitions. Fighters may also avoid takedowns in MMA by sprawling and employing other methods.

Moreover, in MMA battles, submissions including armbars, heel hooks, chokes, and kneebars are permitted. Fighters can win a contest through submission if they can force their opponent to tap out or if a referee calls a halt to the fight because one of the fighters is unconscious or gravely injured.


Another Boxing vs MMA distinction is the geographical location. Boxing matches occur in a ring, but UFC fights happen in a cage. The cage is required for grappling as well as wrestling because it has the potential to aid or damage competitors in certain circumstances.

The boxing ring, in contrast, is mainly used to keep the action contained within a specific region. The classic square ring is used, with the dimensions often ranging between 16 and 20 feet in length. 

Also Read: Top Lesser Known Boxing Techniques You Must Learn

Every MMA match takes place in an octagon; however, there may be minor variations depending on the company. The conventional octagon has a diameter of 30 feet, with a fence that is 6 feet high. It is also available in several sizes.


Another notable distinction between the two sports is the combat gloves that are used. Gloves used in MMA are significantly lighter than gloves used in boxing.

Pic Courtesy: Fightnomads

MMA combat gloves are lighter and more flexible than traditional fighting gloves, weighing only 0.1kg. It allows for the exposure of fingers, enabling fighters to perform specialized attacks, chokes, takedowns, and submissions with more ease.

Boxing gloves weigh approximately between 0.3 to 0.5kg, making them much heavier. It does not allow for the exposure of fingers; instead, it serves to shield them. Its design provides protection for the hands during punching.


Obviously, since they are two different sports, their rules are bound to be different to some extent. Boxing matches follow the three-knockdown rule, which is applied at all levels of the sport. This means that if a boxer is knocked down thrice during a bout, the fight will be called off.

Aside from that, when a combatant is knocked down, the 10-count rule comes into effect. They must get back up on their feet unassisted within 10 seconds of being down.

Under MMA, the outcome of a fight is entirely dependent on the referee’s judgment. Even though an individual fighter may be knocked down numerous times throughout a fight, the battle will continue as long as the person is still moving.

In the event of multiple knockdowns, certain officials may decide to call a halt to the bout to safeguard a combatant from further injury.

MMA Rules

  • Fighters are authorized to use legal blows, throwing tactics, and grappling methods to beat their opponents during fights under certain conditions.
  • The rules prohibit the deliberate rejection of an opponent from the cage.
  • It is not permissible to strike the groin or back of the head, gouge one’s eyes, bite, grip one’s throat, head butts, or yank one’s hair.

Boxing Regulations

  • A clenched fist punch is the only kind of assault that is authorized.
  • Strikes below the belt, to the kidneys, or to the back of an opponent’s head are not permitted and will result in a penalty.
  • Once an opponent has been knocked out, any further attacks and strikes are halted immediately.
  • When a boxer receives a low blow, he or she is given up to five minutes to recuperate.
  • An inadvertent foul that results in an early fourth-round stoppage of a fight will be deemed a “no contest,” starting with the fifth round. The outcome of the battle is determined by the cards of the judges.

Does an MMA fighter know how to box?

In addition to wrestling and kicking, MMA athletes learn how to perfect the art of boxing. They will study the fundamentals of martial art while going through the procedure. On the other hand, many boxers are unfamiliar with the terminology used in mixed martial arts.

As an illustration, consider the rear-neck choke, which is the most prevalent form of finish technique and includes one fighter locking both of his arms in an L shape to strangle his opponent and compel him to submit.

This is definitely not seen in boxing since the sport’s rules do not allow for this type of maneuver.

Also Read: The 11 Greatest Boxers of All Time

Philly Shell is another boxing technique that MMA athletes are unfamiliar with. It requires employing boxing gloves that are substantially larger in size than MMA gloves to protect a fighter’s face in combat.

Ultimately, one can see that there really are significant distinctions between these two sports, but this does not imply that you must choose one over the other as a preference.

Let us now look at the similarities between Boxing and MMA to learns more about Boxing vs MMA.

The Similarities between MMA and Boxing

Though boxing is an element of mixed martial arts, MMA is not a component of boxing. Although Mixed Martial Arts is a new but more comprehensive art form, it owes boxing a portion of its success.

Both are incredibly different yet intertwined – one thing they both have in common is that if they were to face each other through their respective sports, the ‘puncher’s chance’ would be on their side.


Fighters preparing to fight in boxing and MMA follow similar training regimes. For instance, both boxers and mixed martial artists will go through the following preparations before a competition:

  • Sparring
  • Shadowboxing
  • Drilling techniques
  • Using heavy bags and hitting pads
  • Jumping rope

Such a preparation assists fighters in preparing both physically and emotionally for their time in the ring or the cage. Participants have the opportunity to strengthen their bodies and refine their abilities before facing off against another skilled fighter.

Can an MMA Fighter and Boxer Fight?

For this answer, I will give you an example of the most popular and experienced fight in the history of these sports. Do you remember when Floyd Mayweather and the notorious MMA fighter Connor McGregor stepped in the ring together?

As the boxing bout between the two progressed, it became clear that McGregor was in for a long night. His body ached to fight as he did in the UFC; however, all he was capable of doing was punching.

As a consequence, Mayweather defeated him by a wide margin. McGregor’s abilities did not transition well to boxing because the sport is fundamentally different from Mixed Martial Arts.

Boxing vs MMA: Which is Better?

Both MMA and Boxing share many characteristics, but they are fundamentally distinct combat sports in many respects. When it comes to choosing which martial art to train in, the answer isn’t always about whether the fighting style is superior in terms of effectiveness.

If you’re debating which martial art to pursue, I feel it’s critical to consider whichever martial art is more interesting to you personally before making your final decision.

Do you want to concentrate just on striking, or do you want to include kicks, knees, elbows, takedowns, and submissions in your toolbox? As a beginner, I recommend learning as many martial arts as possible to become a well-rounded fighter.

I feel that both MMA and Boxing are excellent choices; nevertheless, every individual is different. I recommend that you follow your passion and try your hand at martial arts.

Remember that it’s never too late to begin training in martial arts, even if you think your age is an impediment in getting started. Whether or not you follow my recommendations, I wish you the best of luck on your martial arts adventure.

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