While MMA and boxing are both popular combat sports, there’s no denying that MMA is rapidly growing in popularity. MMA pulls from many different disciplines, giving its audience a different fight every time. With its growing popularity, MMA has cemented itself as the better discipline compared to boxing.
Here are 8 reasons why MMA is better than boxing:
- Boxing only focuses on punching and dodging.
- MMA fighters pull from many different disciplines.
- Fewer rounds keep the MMA audience engaged.
- MMA is more beneficial for self-defense.
- Fighters from any discipline can learn MMA.
- MMA requires fighters to use their entire body.
- MMA is constantly evolving as fighters improve.
- MMA fighters learn standing and ground styles.
Let’s take a closer look at these reasons and determine what really makes MMA better than boxing.
1. Boxing Only Focuses on Punching and Dodging
Boxing is a very difficult combat sport to learn. In fact, many would argue that it’s just as hard as any other discipline. But what really sets it apart from MMA is that boxing only allows for hits with hands and quick movements to dodge.
Boxing training will teach you how to punch, duck, dodge, and do it all quickly. While these are important aspects of any fighting style, they’re not nearly as many lessons as you’ll face with MMA.
MMA allows for contact to be made from almost any part of your body. This opens fighters up to be able to use their legs, feet, and knees to hurt their opponent. MMA will teach you how to perform a takedown and get your opponent on the mat. It’ll also allow submissions and other moves that boxing won’t.
Overall, MMA is going to teach a fighter more than just throwing a punch and how to avoid one. This is part of what makes it better than boxing. While there’s nothing wrong with learning to hit your opponent, there’s so much more of which the body is capable. And MMA encourages using your entire body during a fight.
2. MMA Fighters Pull from Many Different Disciplines
MMA fighters are known to come from many different training backgrounds. While boxers train for boxing, MMA fighters can train in any of the following disciplines:
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Or even boxing!
However an MMA fighter trains, they’ll have certain skills in different areas.
For example, fighters who train in wrestling are especially good at takedowns, which is a great weapon to have in your arsenal. This applies to other disciplines and the specialties they offer.
This is where boxing and MMA truly stand apart.
Even if you train boxing for MMA, you’re only getting some of the training and knowledge that you need to be successful. Some fighters that come from boxing are successful because of their fast feet and hard hits, but they have to learn a lot more than what boxing teaches before they can become successful in MMA.
Holly Holm is one of the most well-known boxers to become a successful MMA fighter. Training for MMA isn’t easy. In fact, even now Holm trains six days a week to continue to perfect her craft, but the journey isn’t always easy. Even with her vast experience, she is constantly working on getting better.
That’s just one example of the difficulty of learning MMA. Because it’s such a vast discipline, there’s no level of comfort for MMA that boxers may feel once they’ve trained for so long. There’s always something new to learn and some way to improve.
3. Fewer Rounds Keep the MMA Audience Engaged
One thing that makes MMA so much more fun to watch is the amount of time fighters spend in a fight. Boxing bouts can have anywhere from four to 12 rounds, depending on the fight in question. MMA keeps their rounds between three and five.
Fewer rounds mean more attention from the audience on the fight at all times. MMA fighters are forced to act quickly to subdue their opponents and get the victory. This sense of urgency isn’t always found in boxing until you get to the later rounds.
Having three to five rounds that are two minutes longer keeps the audience fully engaged with fights, even if they go the full five rounds. In a championship boxing bout that goes 12 rounds, the audience may lose interest or get distracted, missing parts of the fight. This can still happen in MMA, but it’s far less likely because of the shorter time spent on one fight.
4. MMA Is More Beneficial for Self-Defense
If you’re considering learning boxing or MMA to help with self-defense, MMA is the better option by far. Sure, boxing can help you dodge a punch and throw a decent one yourself, but there’s more to self-defense than hitting.
MMA training will teach you to throw and dodge a punch, just like boxing.
However, it also teaches many more techniques that will be useful when trying to defend yourself. MMA focuses on using your entire body as a weapon against your opponent. For a boxer, having your arms tied or restricted in some way makes your best weapon unusable.
This is where MMA training can really help because it teaches you to use your entire body as a weapon rather than just focusing on your hands. In the same situation, an MMA fighter will be able to kick and fight their way out most of the time. So, MMA is the clear choice for self-defense.
5. Fighters From Any Discipline Can Learn MMA
The best part about MMA is that it’s so diverse. Fighters come from many different disciplines and learn to hone their craft. Each fighter that comes from a different discipline has unique strengths that they bring to their MMA career.
Many of the aspects that MMA fighters get judged on have connections to wrestling (particularly takedowns). So, wrestlers will be using techniques they’re already good at, like takedowns, holds, and submissions.
But wrestling isn’t the only discipline that can get you set up well for MMA training. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is another discipline that will really help MMA fighters be prepared for a fight. BJJ will help you learn to take your opponent to the mat, get out of difficult holds, and keep your back off the mat.
These disciplines are the ones that translate the best to MMA, but they’re not the only ones that count. Like we discussed above, boxers can learn MMA very well as Holly Holm did. Karate, Muay Thai, and Judo are other very popular disciplines that can give a fighter a great headstart for MMA training.
MMA can be learned no matter where a fighter comes from, but if you’re good at any of these disciplines, then you have a better chance of being good at MMA faster. Once you start training your body to be a weapon, then MMA will be that much easier to learn.
6. MMA Requires Fighters to Use Their Entire Body
An MMA fighter has to learn to use their entire body as a weapon, while boxers are only able to use their hands to hurt their opponent. This makes for a much more interesting fight than trading blows.
MMA allows for punches, kicks, takedowns, and holds. This can help keep fights a lot more interesting. Not only do fighters have to be aware of their opponent’s hands, but they also need to watch their opponent’s entire body as there are many other ways they can be hit.
Furthermore, not only do fighters need to watch their opponent’s body for any incoming attacks, but they also need to watch for any openings to connect a hit of their own without leaving their body vulnerable. This makes MMA a lot more detailed and technical than boxing because boxers only need to watch for incoming punches.
This is part of what makes MMA popular with audiences. Being able to strike and take down your opponent in so many different ways makes every fight different from the last. With boxing, there’s a lot of dodging and punching, but you aren’t going to see many different versatile moves like you will in MMA.
7. MMA Is Constantly Evolving as Fighters Improve
MMA fighters are constantly trying to come up with new ways to defeat their opponents in the octagon. We’ve seen many controversial moves in MMA rise and fall in popularity, and this is because fighters are constantly trying to learn new moves and get better.
One example is the oblique kick. Many fans and fighters had an issue with this as it became a popular way to take down a fighter. This was a kick to the leg, forcing it backward and sometimes damaging the knee. It was never banned, and it lost popularity after fighters learned how to properly avoid it.
This is just one example of many different moves that come and go in MMA fighting. This constant innovation allows MMA to evolve continuously and keeps fighters on their toes when it comes to training.
When a new dangerous move grows in popularity in MMA, fighters have to quickly come up with ways to prevent themselves from being subjected to it. The oblique kick is one example of things we’ve seen in MMA that seemed dangerous and now is an afterthought.
Because fighters come from so many different disciplines, there will likely always be new moves and techniques that MMA fighters come up with. With so many new moves and techniques, there’s no comparison from MMA to boxing when it comes to innovation.
8. MMA Fighters Learn Standing and Ground Styles
Boxing teaches you many different standing techniques to avoid being hit and stay ready to hit your opponent when the opportunity presents itself. But that’s all you learn with boxing. MMA is a lot different.
Not only does MMA teach you standing-style offense and defense, both involving a lot more than just punching, MMA also teaches you how to take your opponent to the ground. Learning ground techniques is a whole different style for MMA fighters, and it makes training a lot more difficult.
Different opponents are going to be more comfortable in either standing or ground positions. This gives a fighter a lot more versatility than they would’ve in boxing. You may think that learning one style would be enough, but that’s not the case with MMA.
If a fighter that prefers standing style is forced to the ground, they can quickly lose confidence. A good MMA fighter is well versed in ground and standing fighting. With boxing, there’s only one style to learn. If a boxer is good at their discipline, then they have an advantage, but an MMA fighter needs to be good at all aspects of MMA in order to have an advantage.
Many MMA fights turn into trying to get your opponent into a position you’re more comfortable in. A ground-style fighter is going to try to get their opponent off their feet, so they have an advantage. A standing fighter is going to try to avoid any takedowns or situations where they may end up on the ground.
So much thought and practice go into the different styles of fighting in MMA, and they can’t really compare to the more linear idea of learning to box. Fast footwork and punching are a lot different from learning to use your entire body for offense and defense.
Why Is MMA More Popular Than Boxing?
MMA is more popular than boxing because audiences find it more exciting to watch. This is because it’s new, fast-paced, and has a much more versatile selection of fighters.
MMA continues to grow in popularity, and it’s definitely becoming more popular than boxing and other combat sports. This is for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that it’s such a versatile sport.
We’ve discussed a lot of the differences between boxing and MMA, and a lot of those differences are exactly why MMA has become more popular. Twelve rounds of watching two people stand and swing their fists is decent entertainment, but it’s not surprising that it’s being overshadowed by a sport like MMA.
MMA Matches Are Shorter and More Vigorous
MMA has far fewer rounds which encourage fighters to do everything they can to win in a smaller time frame, whereas boxers often conserve their energy for later rounds. This is a smart strategy for boxers as they’re expected to go a lot longer than MMA fighters, but it can make the start of a bout a little dull to watch compared to later in the fight.
MMA Has More Versatile Action
Beyond just the length of the fight, MMA has won audiences over because of the vast moveset available to fighters. No longer are people just trying to swing their fists harder than the other guy. MMA allows the use of arms, legs, and the entire body to try to take down their opponent.
Watching a night of boxing bouts, you can pretty much guess what you are going to get. Fighters will try to hit each other as hard as they can and hope to knock out their opponent. A night of MMA is going to be completely different.
With so many different influences like wrestling or judo, MMA fights will look a lot different depending on who’s involved and what their background is. One fight is never going to follow the same course as another.
MMA Combines Standing and Ground Fighting
Then, you have to consider standing and ground styles of fighting in MMA. This adds another layer to the fight altogether. In contrast, boxers are stuck working on their feet. MMA fighters will often bring the fight down to the mat and try to gain an advantage there. There’s a lot more action in an MMA fight, and these fights are a lot more likely to keep the audience’s attention.
MMA Provides the Chance to See Something New
Finally, there’s a certain predictability to the moves used in boxing. Rarely do we see anything new, as most would be against the rules. But MMA is still growing. Fighters are still learning new ways to slow their opponent down and win a fight.
You see this often in UFC when a new move becomes popular. The half kick is a current popular move that made its way to the scene recently. The move has exposed an often unprotected area of the lower leg. When unexpected, the move can knock an opponent completely off their feet.
New moves like this one are becoming more common all the time. So, fans really enjoy the unpredictability that MMA brings with every new fighter. Boxing doesn’t have that same feel because anything unpredictable will have to come from a punch or a creative dodge.
So, overall, MMA is more popular than boxing because it has more to offer audiences who want to watch a fast-paced and unpredictable fight. Boxing is very entertaining, but MMA has opened a new door for fighters of every discipline to come together and compete.
- Rules of Sports: MMA Rules of Mixed Martial Art Fighting
- Balance The Grind: Holly Holm: Daily Routine
- MightFighter: The Different MMA Techniques and Styles
- Sportskeeda: 3 Reasons Why The Oblique Kick Should Be Banned From UFC
- Expert Boxing: Endurance Strategy for Fighting
- Quora: Which One Is Better, Boxing or MMA?
- Engage: Mma Vs Boxing: The Major Differences
Hi there! I'm Kaden, Founder & Main Writer here at SmartMMA. I've been training boxing, MMA, BJJ and other martial arts since 2004. I love every aspect of it as well as helping others learn more about training martial arts effectively.