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Here are major differences between boxing and MMA

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MMA Fighters
Here are major differences between boxing and MMA. Photo/ Twitter.
  • Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are arguably two of the most popular combat sports worldwide. 
  • Millions of fans tune in every weekend to watch their favourite fighters from MMA and boxing in action. 
  • Boxers are better when it comes to boxing, while MMA fighters are better when it comes to MMA. 

There are several differences between boxing and MMA despite both sports being known for their violence. 

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and boxing have emerged as the most popular combat sports in recent years. Millions of fans tune in every weekend to watch their favourite fighters in action. 

Boxing and MMA utilize punches, footwork and angle to attack so as to avoid damage. The sole aim of boxing is to knock an opponent or dominate the match by accumulating points through tactical punch strikes. 

The sole aim of MMA fighters is to dominate their opponent using tactics such as striking and control.

MMA Fighters

MMA fighters in action. Photo/ Twitter.

Since you’re aware of the aim of the two combat sports, let’s examine their main differences. 

1. Fighting Style 

Well, the most obvious difference between boxing and MMA is the style used in fighting. In boxing, fighters are only allowed to throw punches above the waist. 

Boxers do not hit an opponent who is down or ground wrestle. Grappling, backfiring or slapping an opponent are all disallowed in a boxing match. 

On the other hand, the sport of MMA goes beyond throwing punches. A wide array of martial skills and several genres of fighting techniques are all allowed in the ring. 

In MMA, punches of any kind, knee strikes, elbow jabs and knee strikes are allowed. 

2. Rules 

You can’t fail to discuss basic rules when mentioning the differences between boxing and MMA. The two combat sports are governed by a slightly different sets of rules. 

Despite there being several MMA organizations with specific rules, there are universal rules that all MMA fighters must adhere to. 

MMA Rules 

  • Strikes to the back of the head and groin are disallowed. Grabbing of the throat, head butting, eye gouging, hair pulling and biting are also disallowed. 
  • Throwing an opponent outside the ring intentionally is disallowed. 
  • Fighters are allowed to implore legal strikes and grappling techniques when in the ring. 

Boxing Rules 

  • The only permitted attack of attacking an opponent is punching with a clenched fist. 
  • No attacking an opponent when they are down. 
  • A fighter would be penalized if they strike an opponent below the belt, kidneys and at the back. 
  • A fighter hit with a low blow is allowed up to five minutes to recover. 

3. Number of Rounds 

The number of rounds is among the major differences between boxing and MMA. In boxing, fights last up to 12 rounds of three minutes, with one minute of rest between the rounds. 

In MMA, fights last for just three or five rounds, with a minute of rest in between. Each round last for five minutes, and the number of rounds depends on the championship bout. 

4. Glove Size

 There is a significant difference in the size of gloves used by boxers and MMA fighters. 

Boxers use bigger gloves, which are often seen as a protective measure. The gloves range from 8oz to 14oz, depending on the fight category. 

MMA gloves are smaller compared to boxing gloves. The standard size of MMA gloves is 4oz, although amateurs are allowed to use 6oz gloves. 

5. Ring

The ring used for fighting is one of the most notable differences between boxing and MMA. Boxers fight in a traditional square ring, with dimensions between 16 and 20 feet. 

MMA organizations have octagon rings for all their fights. A standard octagon ring in MMA should have a size of 30ft in diameter and the fence being 6ft high.

MMA Octagon

MMA ring. Photo/

6. Weight Categories 

In MMA, weight categories are similar, and governing bodies recognize a smaller number of weight classes. The categories start from straw weight (limited to just women) and go up to heavyweight. 

The categories in between are 

  1. Flyweight – 125 pounds
  2. Bantamweight – 135 pounds 
  3. Featherweight – 145 pounds 
  4. Lightweight – 155 pounds 
  5. Welterweight – 170 pounds 
  6. Middleweight – 185 pounds 
  7. Light Heavyweight – 205 pounds 
  8. Heavyweight – 205 pounds 

In boxing, the weight category starts from 108 pounds to 200 plus pounds. Since 2015, boxing officially recognizes eight weight classes

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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