The difference between MMA and boxing: everything you need to know

Here's what you need to know about the difference between MMA and boxing. Both are combat sports, but there are some contrasting differences between the two.

The biggest fight of the century, as described by fans, happened on the 26th of August 2017 in Las Vegas.

After months of speculation, the public finally got the much anticipated, spectacular, show between the two most accomplished athletes in fighting.

In this competition, only Mayweather was a boxing champion. McGregor is a well-accomplished athlete, but… In MMA, which is an entirely different sport.

In this article, we are going to the bottom of what is the difference between boxing and MMA, and what makes these two combat sports so alike and at times so different.

To an inexperienced eye, both look pretty similar. So, what’s the fuss?

What Are The Differences Between Boxing and MMA?

First of all, MMA incorporates a wide array of martial arts. While, boxing uses a variety of punches—arms and hands only— to knock out an opponent and to win on points.

A boxing round can last for approximately 3 minutes, and there can be anywhere from 6 to 12 rounds in a fight. The fight can finish earlier if one of the participants is knocked out. Otherwise, it will keep on going until the 12th round. A boxer with the highest score in points wins.

Usually, an MMA fight is three rounds and lasts 5 minutes. Similarly to boxing, a fighter can win via knockout, technical knockout, or points. However, in MMA a fighter can also win using submissions.

MMA, on the other hand, uses a variety of techniques. It can use arm and hand strikes. The fighter can also use boxing, Muay Thai or kickboxing skills, which are modified for MMA. It also involves leg kicks, takedowns, ground control, and submissions.

Submission moves are not as glamorous as knockouts, but they involve a lot more skills and strategy. MMA submission moves look much moderate, comparing to knockouts, which centre around force and remarkable precision.

Boxing is a punching sport. The only allowed strikes are punches. Again, not any punches. Boxers are not allowed to punch below the waist, punch a downed opponent, or grab the opponent to do throw him on the floor. Backfisting or slapping are allowed either.

In MMA, punches (any kind), elbows, knee strikes, and kicks are allowed. It is allowed to grab the opponent, throw him on the floor and to strike him on the ground (knees and kicks to the head excepted). Moreover, holds, joint locks, and chokes are allowed, too.

Another difference is in gloves fighters use. The gloves in MMA are much lighter (0.1kg) and more flexible. They also come with exposed fingers to accomplish takedowns and submissions. Boxing gloves, on the other hand, are much heavier and cushioned to give protection while punching. They weight between 0.3-0.5kg.

Boxing Rules

For example, the fight between Mayweather and McGregor happened under boxing rules.

Hence, Mayweather had the advantage over McGregor.

Let’s have a look at the basic boxing rules so you can get your head around it:

  • There are 12 rounds; each lasts for 3 minutes with one-minute rest in between
  • The only method of attack is punching with a clenched fist; fighters are not allowed to strike below the belt, in the kidneys or the back of the opponent’s head or neck
  • Fighters cannot hit opponents when they’re down
  • The use of ropes for leverage is forbidden
  • A boxer hit with a low blow (a punch below the beltline) can take five minutes to recover; if the person cannot recover, then it’s considered as a knockout
  • If a boxer is knocked out of the ring, he gets a count of 20 to get back in and on his feet. He cannot be assisted

Boxing Lingo

Regardless of whether you’re thinking about placing bets or not, you should familiarise yourself with boxing terminology.

Especially, if you want to understand what’s happening in the ring ;)

There are different things you can bet on:

  1. Fight Outright - who will be the official winner of the fight.
  2. Fight Outcome - which fighter will win and whether they win it during the fight, or on points/decision:
    - Win in rounds 1-12 by KO/TKO/DQ - when a boxer cannot recover a knockdown after referee’s 10 count
    - Win on Decision (points victory) - when a fighter wins on the judges’ scorecards after all the scheduled rounds are completed; a Technical Decision is settled by the judges’ scorecards
    - Win on Technical Decision - when a fighter is unable to carry on due to an injury that wasn’t caused by a punch, then the fight will be settled on the judge’s scorecards at the time of the stoppage
  3. Round Knockdown - when a fighter is knocked down during a selected round
  4. Method of Victory - which fighter will win and by what method KO = Knockout
    TKO = Technical Knockout - a fighter is knocked down and gets up to beat the count, but the referee stops the fight as he believes he's not fit to continue
    RTD = Opponent Retired - a boxer returns to his corner at the end of the round and is unfit to continue
    TD = Technical Decision - a fight has to be stopped because of an accidental headbutt and a fighter is not able to continue due to an injury
    DQ = Opponent Disqualified – one of the boxers has fouled an opponent or violated the rules

Why Did Mayweather Win?

It was a no-brainer for everyone that it was Mayweather who was more likely to win. Despite his 2-year retirement, he would have to completely ignore McGregor, and not train, to lose. Floyd “Money” also had an advantage in technique - he’s a boxer. He didn't have to learn anything from scratch and was likely to continue to fight with a Harvard like precision.

McGregor, on the other hand, is an MMA fighter, who started his career in an advanced age for any athlete and became a champion in less than five years. Bear in mind; he hasn’t started preparing for the fight when it’s been announced officially. He was more likely training for months, focusing on mastering his boxing technique.

Die-hard fans argue that it wasn't the most beautiful fight they've ever seen. It was spectacular and entertaining, but for anyone who’s passionate about either of the sports, it was an outrageous idea to mix them. Both boxing and mixed martial arts followers think that their competition was the ultimate test of athletic genius and have a healthy disrespect for the other sport.

Remember, that someone with a strong boxing background would have to learn so much more to compete in MMA. Acquiring skills in takedowns, leg kicks, ground control, and submissions. Boxing seems like a much easier field to enter.

Fans love spectacle and novelty. So, regardless of who won, it was a great show.

Do You Want To Place A Bet?

Mayweather and McGregor might not be competing against each other ever again, but the event ignited massive interest in both disciplines and differences between boxing and MMA.

Interested in betting on the UFC and boxing? Use Bovada to get the best betting odds + get a matched sign up bonus of 50% (up to $250)!

Post your tip!
Win cash in the Takebet free tipster
competition every month. Learn more
Top features
Join community: sign up to comment or log in!

No one has commented yet.
Share your thoughts!