Boxing vs MMA

Which is better for training and fighting, boxing or MMA? So many questions, and we have all the answers.

Boxing vs MMA
Wade McElwain

Written by: Wade McElwain

(Senior Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Umaima Saeed

(Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-01-23

Combat sports have a diverse tapestry, with boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) standing out as two of the most popular disciplines. While both involve fighting, they differ significantly in rules, techniques, and overall approach.
Yes, boxing might be the ‘OG’ of the fighting sports, but that doesn’t mean that MMA doesn’t have it’s own storied history.
So let’s take a look at some of the similarities between the sports of boxing and MMA.


The differences between boxing and MMA couldn’t be more striking (pun intended), but what are the major splits between the two fighting styles ? 

Rules and Framework

When looking at the difference between boxing vs MMA, we first have to look at the rules. At its core, boxing epitomizes the art of using fists for striking within a confined rule set. It limits the striking zone to above the belt and confines competitors within a square ring. Punch the other person out, just don’t hit them below the belt.  Contrarily, MMA encompasses a broader spectrum, allowing various fighting techniques such as striking (punches, kicks) and grappling (wrestling, submissions). The octagonal cage in MMA offers more spatial freedom, enabling a multidimensional approach to combat. Still no crotch or throat punches here.

Technique Spectrum

Training is a similar beast when it comes to Boxing vs MMA, but there are numerous nuances to consider.  Boxing revolves around the refined science of delivering and dodging punches—jabs, hooks, crosses—emphasizing footwork and head movement. Boxing is all about not letting the other person punching you in the face.  Contrastingly-MMA amalgamates diverse martial arts disciplines like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and wrestling, creating a dynamic repertoire encompassing striking, clinching, and ground fighting. MMA brings the whole body into the fray.  People often ask ‘who would win in a fight between a boxer and MMA fighter?’, it all comes down to training first. 

Fight Duration and Endings

How long a boxing match lasts versus that of a UFC or MMA fight can also vary.  Boxing matches comprise a set number of rounds, often three minutes each, with intermittent breaks. Championship fights extend to 12 rounds. MMA contests, however, might vary in duration, typically spanning three or five rounds of five minutes each, offering multiple avenues for victory—submission, knockout, technical knockout, or a judge's decision—rendering the fight dynamics unpredictable.
Since there are many MMA leagues, the duration of the fights and certain moves can determine the ending.

Attire and Protective Gear

What you wear is also vastly different in boxers versus MMA fighters, distinctive gear characterises these sports.  Boxers don padded gloves designed for punching, complemented by hand wraps for wrist support and mouth-guards for safety. MMA fighters, on the other hand, don finger-less gloves that enable grappling and striking. Attire includes shorts and mouth-guards, with some opting for additional safeguards like shin guards for sparring.
MMA fighters have come a long way from UFC 1, where many of the combatants wore clothes that today would be considered a novelty.  If you wore boxing gloves to an MMA fight, you won’t do much damage, and you will really suck at grappling. 

Boxing vs MMA.JPG


As much as the sports are vastly different in their approach, they both share the core element of striking, and knocking an opponent out. There are several other similarities as well. 

Athletic Preparation

Both disciplines demand unwavering dedication to physical and mental conditioning. Athletes undergo arduous training routines encompassing sparring sessions, cardiovascular workouts, strength training, and strategic development. Stamina, agility, strength, and mental resilience form the crux of their preparation. 

If you want to be good at either sport, you have to train and practice every day. 

Weight Categories

To ensure fairness and safety, both sports categorize fighters based on weight classes. Competitors engage within specific weight ranges, mitigating the risks associated with vast disparities in size and strength. 
While there might be some minor detail differences in weight, MMA has tried to model itself after boxing in this regard. 

Tactical Prowess

Despite differing strategies, both realms require meticulous planning and execution. Boxing emphasizes timing, footwork, and exploiting opponents' weaknesses, while MMA strategists aim to leverage their expertise in striking, grappling, or hybrid styles to gain an edge.
One thing that both sports share, is the disdain for crotch punches. No one likes a pop to the bits, so that’s good. 

Spectator Appeal

The universal allure of combat sports lies in their gripping displays of skill and tenacity. Both boxing and MMA draw diverse audiences with their adrenaline-pumping bouts, showcasing athleticism, strategy, and sheer raw intensity.
Boxing seems to have lost its ‘hey day’ of massive fights, as the UFC and MMA grow to global audiences. 

So while boxing and MMA, while fundamentally rooted in combat, they diverge significantly in their rules, techniques, and approaches. Boxing embodies precision within a confined framework, while MMA thrives on versatility, incorporating a myriad of martial arts. Yet, both demand unparalleled athleticism, mental fortitude, and strategic acumen, captivating global audiences with their awe-inspiring exhibitions of skill and determination.

Both sports require loads of training, so if you’re not ready to do that, join us on the couch and watch the pros do it. 


Who would win in a fight between a boxer and MMA fighter?

-Depends on experience-but the MMA fighter would have more tools to use.

What is more popular, boxing or MMA?  
-Boxing has always been more popular, but the MMA is quickly catching up.

Which is more dangerous, boxing or MMA?
-Depends on the fighter, but someone trained in MMA would be more dangerous.

Who makes more money, boxers or MMA fighters?

-Boxing has been around longer, and thus has bigger payday fights. 

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.

More articles by this author