Boxing Vs. MMA: Who Would Win?

November 8, 2020

Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts are both very popular forms of combat. But have you ever wondered, which one is better? Or who has a better chance of winning, a boxer, or an MMA fighter?

In a fight with no rules, or with MMA rules, an MMA fighter clearly beats a boxer when in similar weight classes. If we are talking Mike Tyson vs. 135 lb semi-professional MMA fighter then there may be a different outcome. But if we are strictly talking two professionals (e.g. McGregor vs. Mayweather), then an MMA fighter always beats the boxer.

Now, under a boxing ruleset, a boxer clearly wins. The advantage a boxer has of honing a specific skillset for years on end is too great to overcome for an MMA fighter who has to spread their training time over several martial arts.

People become fascinated when they see professional fighters, fighting for titles on TV. However, many people cannot tell one martial art from the other. For a layman, both boxing and MMA may look the same. But there is a huge difference between MMA and boxing.

So let’s compare both the combat arts to find out which is better. But first, a brief overview of boxing and MMA.

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What Is Boxing?

Boxing is a combat sport that has been practiced by people for centuries. However, in recent years, it has become more popular. It is about landing punches on your opponent using a combination of punches to score points or knock the opponent out.

These matches are usually divided into three to twelve rounds, with each round lasting up to 1 and 3 minutes. If you knock your opponent to the ground, the fight takes a momentary break.

In this case, you need to wait for the referee to count up to ten and then declare the standing boxer as the winner. However, if the fallen opponent gets up before the count is over, then the fight continues.

In boxing, both the participants are required to wear heavy boxing gloves and a mouth guard for safety. It doesn’t involve any kicks or takedowns. In short, you cannot use any other fighting style. You need to knock your opponent out or win more rounds on points only with the help of punches.

What Is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?

What is MMA

MMA or Mixed Martial Arts is a fairly new form of martial arts that was developed in the early 1990s. It is a form of combat sport as well as a highly effective self-defense technique. The term MMA was first coined in 1993 and has evolved into its own martial art as it has gained immense popularity worldwide.

The thing about MMA is that it is a style that was developed by borrowing techniques from other fighting styles. These techniques were combined to form a new style called Mixed Martial Arts. Well, now you know why it is called so.

It involves wrestling, striking, grappling, and even boxing. It is performed both on the ground and standing position. In MMA, the fighter uses all kinds of techniques to finish an opponent. They are free to use whatever fighting style they want. However, in the UFC, they have a few rules to stop the fight from turning into an out and out street fight.

In MMA, two fighters with skills in multiple martial arts, compete against each other. The entire match is divided into several rounds. If you win more rounds than your opponent, then you will be declared the winner.

Usually, matches are divided into three rounds and each of the rounds lasts up to 5 minutes. A title fight will usually last five rounds.

MMA has its own set of rules that are entirely different than that of boxing. MMA is involves the ground game, where participants can engage each other using grappling techniques. In this case, they feature skills from other fighting styles like jiu-jitsu and wrestling.

There is a certain limitation on the type of strikes you can perform. But the good thing is that you are not just limited to punches. Elbows, kicks, and knee strikes are allowed in professional matches.

Boxing Vs MMA: Detailed Comparison

Now that you know the basics of both combat sports, it’s time to compare the two.

As you already know MMA is a combination of multiple fighting styles. An MMA fighter may have an upper hand in the octagon as he is allowed to use various techniques both on the ground and standing position.

Whereas a boxer is limited to only punches and has no experience on the ground. Without proper training, a boxer will have a tough time facing an MMA fighter.

A boxer may not be trained to handle a variety of strikes. This can be a problem for him in defeating a person who is trained to use a wider variety of fighting techniques. For example, a boxer may be able to block and slip punches thrown at his head, but he may fall short of defensive techniques, in case of a knee strike with full impact.

For a boxer, the ground game can be a big-time issue as they are trained to fight only in the standing position. Not just that, but the ground is considered their “safe zone” during a fight.

It provides them a quick recovery if they get knocked down. In boxing, if you get knocked down, the fight is usually over if you fail to get up. However, that is not the case in MMA.

When an MMA fighter gets knocked down, the opponent usually uses it as an opportunity to seize him and acquire a dominant position on the ground. He can then end the fight with a knockout or submission.

In most cases, boxers would be finished once they hit the ground. That’s because they are not equipped to deal with a fight in that situation. A simple joint lock submission and they would be done.

However, that doesn’t mean MMA fighters don’t face any difficulties when they step into a boxing ring. An MMA fighter is trained to use multiple types of strikes. This makes them accustomed to it and they act out of their instincts in the ring.

This often gets an MMA fighter disqualified when they are fighting in a boxing match. They see a chance and land a kick instinctively which is not allowed in boxing.

The fighting style is one of the biggest problems faced by MMA fighters in a boxing ring.

MMA matches consist of fewer rounds lasting for longer periods. However, they still end up being shorter than a boxing match in total fight time. This could be a problem for an MMA fighter if they don’t pace themselves appropriately.

On the other hand, a boxer who is trained for these types of matches would be more capable of handling all the rounds. In this case, a boxer may out last an MMA fighter in the last few rounds.

These are not just mere assumptions. These have been evidenced in the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor title boxing match of 2017. Conor McGregor, who is an accomplished MMA fighter, was set to fight against Floyd Mayweather, an accomplished boxer.

In the first five rounds, the match was dominated by McGregor. He landed blow after blow, stopping Mayweather from landing effective punches.

McGregor burnt most of his energy in the first few rounds. In the seventh round, McGregor was seen to restrain himself from throwing kicks. In the end, Mayweather was successful to outfight and outlast McGregor and thus, winning the fight.

Is Boxing Or MMA Better?

Is Boxing or MMA better

Now the question is which one is better? Boxing or Mixed Martial Arts?

Before we dive into this topic, we would want to make one thing clear and that is there is no “better” martial arts style. No matter, what type of martial arts you talk about, they all have their fair share of pros and cons.

The best form of martial arts is the one that you have practiced the most. Every individual will have a martial art style that is better suited for them because of their body type and natural attributes.

MMA is a mixed form of martial arts that combines the fighting styles of different martial arts. If you have to step into an MMA octagon, you at least need to know more than one type of martial arts.

Jumping into an MMA octagon, without having any knowledge about MMA could end badly for you. You at least need some amount of understanding backed by training to compete against an MMA fighter.

If you don’t have any background in martial arts, then boxing would be a better starting point for you. It has just one standing position and stricter rules to deal with. This would be easy for new competitors as they can get familiar with it easily.

However, they need to learn to control their body, power, speed, and reach. But most importantly, one needs to know their limitations.

It will allow you to focus on the techniques that would help you win a boxing match. It is better than learning a wide variety of movements and techniques.

However, if you are already trained in more than one martial art, then you can benefit from choosing MMA over boxing. In an MMA competition, you can use a wider variety of styles of choice to finish your opponent.

MMA teaches you to identify your weaknesses and helps you to work on them so that you can become a well-rounded fighter. It helps you become a more effective competitor.

From the above discussion, we know that both MMA and boxing has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to your choice of what type of fighter you want to become. For instance, if you want to be a well-rounded fighter, then you are meant for MMA and if not, then boxing is the option for you.

As far as who would win a match is concerned, it depends on how great of a fighter you are and how you use your techniques to be more effective. The more you practice a combat style, the better you get at it.

Is Boxing Or MMA Better For Self-Defense?

All types of fighting styles are treated as a form of self-defense. Similarly, both MMA and boxing are self-defense styles when they are performed outside the ring. The moment you use any fighting style to protect yourself, it becomes self-defense.

As far as self-defense is concerned, you probably know the answer. MMA is no doubt better for self-defense as it involves a wider variety of fighting styles and a variety of different positions.

MMA will be more useful in handling different situations. When you are attacked, you never know what the situation is going to be like. If you are trained in MMA, then you can adjust yourself to deal with that specific situation.

In a situation where your life is threatened, the only way out is to beat your attacker. With MMA, you have better chances of winning as you are trained to fight at range, in close quarters, up against a fence, and on the ground. However, that is not the case for a boxer.

A boxer in a real-life situation can feel trapped as they are used to only throwing punches and fight in one single position. If you fall on the ground, you won’t be good at defending yourself. But with MMA, you know how to takedown your attacker or in fight in a standing position.

So if you are looking forward to learning a self-defense technique, MMA would be a better option for you. But if you aim to become a professional fighter, then you can choose the one that better suits you.

Both MMA and boxing may look similar from the outside, but they are different forms of combat sports. By now you should know the difference between the two. The main point is that neither of the forms is “better” than the other.

They both have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s the fighter who wins the match. If you want to become a fighter, it’s you who have to decide which style you like best.

About the author 

James de Lacey

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.


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