Boxing vs MMA: Who Wins - Combat Sport Events

Boxing vs MMA: Who Wins

Boxing vs MMA? Which is better? Who would win? Questions combat sports enthusiasts ask constantly.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question as there are several different factors to include. This is why we have decided to discuss this question further and break down the possibilities of who would win and which is better. Join us as we run through Boxing vs MMA.

MMA vs Boxing: Definitions and Key Features


Let’s start with boxing. Originating from paid European bar fights, boxing is a martial art involving two participants competing from the standing position.

These participants land punches on their opponents with the goal of either scoring the most “points” throughout the match or making their opponent unable to continue.

These matches are divided into three and twelve rounds that last between one and three minutes.

In boxing, when an opponent is on the ground, the standing opponent must stop and can not continue the match.

He must wait for the referee to perform a “ten-count” and either declare the standing one the victor (if the opponent can not continue) or if the opponent gets up and continues the match.

Sometimes, beginners ask: “Why boxing is better than MMA?” Check out the history of boxing here and get answers to the most important questions about boxing background.

Now, you have a clear picture of what boxing is.  So, what MMA is, and how it differs from boxing?

Khabib Grappling Conor

MMA stands for “Mixed Martial Arts.” While it is not necessarily a new phenomenon, it has gained major attention in the United States and abroad over the past decade or so.

It is exactly what it sounds like: two competitors with skills in multiple martial arts, competing in matches that are also divided into rounds.

These round divisions are different, with even professional matches limited to five rounds, but they are often up to five minutes each.

Most would like to know why MMA is better than boxing. MMA features its own set of rules that differ fairly heavily from boxing. For example, MMA is well-known for its “ground game,” where opponents engage in a grappling match featuring skills from other martial arts like wrestling or jiujitsu while on the ground.

Boxing vs MMA: There are limitations on the types of strikes you can perform, but you are not limited to just punches. Kicks, elbow and knee strikes, and (in some organizations) even headbutts are allowed, although at the professional level headbutts are generally considered an illegal striking technique.

Boxing vs MMA: Who Would Win?

Mayweather McGregor

Boxing vs MMA: As discussed before, MMA is a blend of multiple schools of thought in the martial arts world. With this in mind, a boxer stepping into the MMA ring will have some issues without proper training prior to doing so. He may not be equipped to handle a wider variety of strikes than he is used to in the boxing ring.

As an example, he may be adept at blocking punches aimed at the face, but a knee strike to the outer thigh will likely land its full impact.

Ground game also becomes an issue for the average boxer, as they are adjusted to the ground being a “safe zone” during their match.

This is not to say that boxers will take a fall intentionally, but the ground provides them a quick moment of recovery in a traditional boxing match. Falling in an MMA match, however, does not mean the match ends.

MVP-boxing debut

The opponent can seize this opportunity to take a dominant position on the ground and finish the match either with a submission or a technical knock out.

MMA vs boxing: In my time as an MMA fighter, I was witness to numerous boxers who decided to try their hand at MMA. Most of these boxers did not train at all in anything other than their boxing and assumed they would be able to land a knockout before they would go to the ground.

Almost every time, the boxers were defeated in a ground match by a joint lock submission. While this is purely anecdotal, I have no doubt that many MMA fighters will attest to seeing the same thing in their organizations and facilities of choice.

Randy Couture vs James Toney

Those who practice MMA will also face their own challenges when stepping into a boxing ring. When your training makes you accustomed to using multiple different types of strikes, it will be your instinct to do just that.

MMA fighters often end up being disqualified when they fight in a boxing match because they see an opening and instinctively throw a kick or an elbow strike, which is problematic in a boxing match.

MMA vs Boxing: The biggest issue MMA fighters face in a boxing ring, however, comes from the type of fighting they are used to doing.

MMA features fewer rounds that go for longer periods but still end up being shorter than an average boxing match. MMA fighters tend to burn through all of their energy within the first three rounds, leaving them thoroughly winded and less equipped to finish the match.

A boxer who has been training for these types of matches will be more capable of handling all of the rounds in boxing and will often overtake the MMA fighter in the last few rounds.

All of this was evidenced in the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather title boxing match of 2017. Conor McGregor, a trained and accomplished MMA fighter, stepped into the boxing ring against Floyd Mayweather, who is an accomplished boxer.

For the first five rounds, McGregor dominated the match. He was landing blow after blow, keeping Mayweather backing up and unable to land many effective punches.

McGregor burnt through his energy, however, by round seven. It was around this time that the audience saw McGregor having to actively restrain himself from throwing kicks or going in for a takedown, and, in the end, Mayweather was able to outlast and outfight McGregor for the win.

Why Boxing Is Better than MMA?

Boxing vs MMA who would win? Before we delve into this topic, there is something I would like to clarify: there is no “better” martial arts style. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages.

As my taekwondo instructor used to say when asked questions like this, “The best martial art is the one you’ve practiced the most.” Each individual will have a martial art that is better suited to their natural attributes and individual body type. 

With that said, I believe it is important to know that MMA is exactly that: a mix of martial arts. I will never recommend stepping into an MMA ring without at least an understanding and some working knowledge in at least one or two different types of martial arts.

If an individual has never competitively practiced martial art, jumping right into MMA is probably not going to end well for them.

Without any background in martial arts, it is my belief that boxing is going to be a better starting point. The stricter rules and only one fighting position of concern will allow new competitors to become familiar with their own body control, reach, power, and speed, and, most importantly, their limitations.

Nate Diaz laying down in octagon

It will allow for full focus on the techniques necessary to be successful in a boxing match, rather than having to learn a large variety of different techniques and movements, and not becoming particularly effective in anyone before competing.

An individual who is already trained, however, would likely see more benefit from choosing MMA over boxing. In this type of competition, they will be able to put their style of choice to greater use rather than having to re-learn a whole new art.

They will be able to pick up on their weaknesses and learn to augment them, adding to their repertoire and overall making them a more effective competitor.


So, boxing vs MMA who would win? Boxing and MMA may look similar from the outside, but there are some distinct differences that make them completely separate sports. Neither is going to be “better” than the other, but both come with their own advantages and weaknesses.

Ultimately, it is the decision of each individual to find what suits them best and what they will choose to pursue.

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