MMA vs Boxing: Everything You Need To Know


Two martial arts that are constantly compared to one another. Fans of each sport are always debating which one is better and why their favorite is better.

For those that want to know all of the similarities and differences between boxing and MMA, this post is for you. Here is everything you need to know about MMA vs Boxing.

Going over the histories of the sports and comparing their similarities and differences.

What is the main similarity and difference between MMA and boxing? The main similarity between boxing and MMA is that both are combat sports that involve punching and fights are scored based on a fighter’s performance during each round. Their main difference is that boxing ONLY allows punching and MMA allows striking with punches, elbows, knees and kicks, and also allows grappling and clinching.

The history of boxing and MMA

Before you can compare MMA and boxing, you have to know the history of each style of fighting. Here is the history of boxing and MMA detailed below.

The history of boxing 

The art of pugilism or boxing has been practiced for thousands of years by numerous cultures. What we know as the sport of boxing today began being organized during the late 1800s.

John Chambers Chambers drafted the Marquess of Queensberry rules for the sport of boxing in 1867. These established the rules and guidelines that modern boxing has gone by ever since.

At first, boxers fought bareknuckle, but as time went on, they began wearing early forms of boxing gloves. Boxing gloves became the standard and have been a requirement ever since.

As time went on, boxing organizations began adding more weight classes and titles. Making fights more even and entertaining for the fans.

Gradually more state athletic commissions would be created to oversee boxing events in each state and province. Safety precautions were also gradually added, but unfortunately were rather slow and resulted in the deaths of many boxers.

Today, boxing is one of the most watched sports in the world with millions tuning in to watch the big fights.

The history of MMA

MMA is much younger than the sport of boxing by well over a hundred years. It originated from mixed fights between different martial artists in different places around the world.

Most notably in Brazil, where the called these matches Vale Tudo fights. No holds barred fights where martial artists of different disciplines would test their skills against one another.

These Vale Tudo fights were brought to the US by Rorion Gracie, who co-created the Ultimate Fighting Championship. These early UFC fights were basically modern era Vale Tudo fights with no rules.

But as time went on, the creators of the UFC realized that they keep using the no holds barred format. To keep the promotion afloat, they began implementing rules and thus organized MMA started to take form.

Sets of rules began being put in place and fighters began using MMA gloves in their bouts. MMA had officially become an organized sport.

Over time, the sport of MMA continued to grow and it became an internationally popular sport. Today, millions of people not only watch MMA events, but also participate in mixed martial arts training.

The Uniforms of MMA and boxing

Boxing uniforms 

The fight gear or uniform used in boxing consists of 6 pieces of clothing and protective gear. 

  • Boxing Trunks 
  • Boxing Gloves
  • Boxing Shoes
  • Mouthpiece
  • Cups
  • Hand Wraps

Boxing Trunks: Boxing trunks are a style of shorts used in matches that are distinguished by their wide elastic waistbands. Boxers usually wear their trunks at belly button length, so as to limit the area that their opponent’s can punch. They also come in various cuts and go down below their knees or above them.

Boxing Gloves: Pro boxers either wear 8 oz or 10 oz boxing gloves. The size depends on the weight class and whatever the fight contracts stipulate.

Boxing Shoes: Originally boxers used boots, but now use lightweight shoes in competition.

Mouthpiece: All boxers pro or amateur must wear mouthguards in their bouts.

Cups: Protective cups/groin protectors are mandatory for all male boxers.

Hand Wraps: All boxers must have their hands wrapped in gauze and tape with the gauze must not go over the boxer’s knuckles.

MMA uniforms

MMA uniforms consist of 4 different pieces of clothing or protective gear.

  • MMA Gloves
  • MMA Shorts
  • Cup
  • Mouthguard

MMA Gloves: MMA gloves are fingerless gloves used in pro MMA bouts that weigh in at 4 ounces.

MMA Shorts: Traditional MMA shorts are distinguished by their velcro straps and short waistbands. Skin tight compression pants are also permitted to be used within the UFC.

Cups: Cups/groin protectors like in boxing are also mandatory protective gear in MMA bouts.

Mouthguard: Mouthguards are also mandatory protective gear in MMA competitions.

Rulesets of MMA vs boxing

Boxing rule set

  • 3 Minute Rounds
  • 1 Minute break between each round
  • 8-12 rounds depending if it is a title bout
  • Punches Only(Above the belt line and to the front of the body.

MMA rule set

  • 5 Minute Rounds
  • 1 minute break between each round
  • 3 Rounds Undercard/5 Rounds Title & Main Event
  • Punches, Kicks, Knees & Elbows Allowed
  • No 12-6 Elbows
  • No kicks or knees to the head of a grounded opponent.

Ways to win in MMA vs boxing

Ways to win in boxing 

  • KO\TKO
  • Judge’s Decision
  • Doctor Stoppage
  • Corner Stoppage
  • Disqualification

Ways to win in MMA

  • KO/TKO
  • Submission
  • Judge’s Decision
  • Doctor Stoppage
  • Disqualification

Fight area in MMA vs boxing

Fight area in boxing

All boxing matches take place in boxing rings and have so for the last 140 years. The measurements of a regulation size pro boxing ring range from 16ft-20ft(5m-6m). These boxing rings could have anywhere from 3-6 ropes that go around all 4 sides of the ring. 

Fight areas in MMA

MMA promotions predominantly use cages, but there are at least two Asian MMA promotions that use rings. The UFC’s octagon has a diameter of 30ft(9.1m), 6ft(2m) high fence on a 4ft(1.2m) high platform.

They(the UFC) also have a copyright claim on the octagon. They’re the only MMA promotion allowed to use an 8 sided cage, while other promotions generally now use a circle cage.

MMA weight classes vs boxing weight classes

MMA weight classes(men’s weights)

  • Flyweight: 125lbs(56.7kg)
  • Bantamweight: 135lbs(61.2kg)
  • Featherweight: 145lbs(65.7kg)
  • Lightweight: 155lbs(70.3kg)
  • Welterweight: 170lbs(77.1kg)
  • Middleweight: 185lbs(84kg)
  • Light Heavyweight: 205lbs(93kg)
  • Heavyweight: 265lbs(120.2kg)

Boxing weight classes(men’s weights)

  • Light Flyweight: 108lbs(49kg)
  • Flyweight: 112lbs(50.8kg)
  • Super Flyweight:115lbs(52.16kg)
  • Bantamweight: 118lbs(53.5kg)
  • Super Bantamweight: 122lbs(55.34kg)
  • Featherweight: 126lbs(57.15kg)
  • Super Featherweight: 130bs(59kg)
  • Lightweight: 135lbs(61.23kg)
  • Super Lightweight: 140lbs(63.5kg)
  • Welterweight: 147lb(66.7kg)
  • Super Welterweight: 154lbs(69.9kg)
  • Middleweight: 160lbs(72.57kg)
  • Super Middleweight: 168lbs(76.2kg)
  • Light Heavyweight: 175lbs(79.4kg)
  • Cruiserweight: 200lbs(90.72kg)
  • Heavyweight: 224lbs(101.6kg)

MMA promotions vs boxing promotions

MMA promotions 

  • UFC
  • Bellator
  • One Championship
  • PFL
  • Rizin

Boxing promotions

  • Top Rank
  • PBC(Premier Boxing Championship)
  • DAZN
  • Golden Boy Promotions
  • Mayweather Promotions

What similarities does MMA and boxing share?

Both are Fighting sports

The obvious similarity between boxing and MMA is that both are fighting sport with striking involved. 


The main similarity that MMA shares with boxing is that both styles of fighting include punching. This similarity has led many MMA fighters to train strikers with professional boxers. It is also the main reason why many MMA fighters have attempted to transition into professional boxing.


Gloves are used in both boxing and MMA, but of course they are obviously different. MMA gloves are fingerless gloves that weigh in at 4 ounces and boxing gloves are padded mitts.


Since boxing and MMA are fighting sports, both have a referee that oversees the actions. They protect the fighters if they’re in trouble and make them break when the rounds end.


Both sports also have judges that judge the fights if they go the distance. The judges usually work both fights and go by the 10 point must scoring system to judge both MMA and boxing.

Both are forms of self defense

MMA and boxing also share the similarity of being used as forms of self defense. Boxing has been a popular form of self defense. MMA has only been used as a form of self defense for a little over a decade.

What are the differences between MMA vs Boxing?

MMA is multi dimensional & Boxing is one dimensional

The main difference between these two combat sports is that boxing is one dimensional and MMA is multi dimensional. Boxing is only done on the feet with punches and MMA is fought both on the feet and on the ground. MMA also allows more types of striking than in boxing.

Fighting areas

All boxing matches take place in a boxing ring, while most all MMA fights take place in a cage. The Japanese MMA promotion Rizin is the only one that exclusively uses a ring like the Pride Fighting Championship used.

Different rounds

MMA and boxing have different rounds and time limits. Boxing matches consist of 8-12 3 minute rounds and MMA matches consist of 3-5. 5 minute rounds.

MMA includes submissions

One of the biggest differences between the two is that you can win by submission in MMA. In boxing, you can only win by KO/TKO or decision.

Different gloves

While both MMA and boxing use gloves in their competitions, the gloves each use are completely different. Boxing gloves are 8-10oz mitts and MMA gloves are fingerless and 4 ounces in weight.

Weight classes

The last difference we’ll list between MMA and boxing are the different weight classes in each sport. Boxing has twice as many weight classes as the sport of MMA.

Best fighters in MMA vs Boxing

Best fighters in MMA 

  • Alexander Volkanovski
  • Kamaru Usman
  • Israel Adesanya
  • Francis Ngannou
  • Charles Oliveira
  • Glover Teixeira
  • Deiveson Figueiredo
  • Aljamain Sterling
  • Max Holloway
  • Petr Yan

Best fighters in Boxing

  • Tyson Fury
  • Oleksandr Usyk
  • Anthony Joshua
  • Canelo Alvarez
  • Errol Spence Jr
  • Terence Crawford
  • Vasiliy Lomachenko
  • Geronta Davis
  • Gennady Golovkin
  • Naoya Inoue

Who wins in a fight: A boxer or MMA fighter?

The winner of a fight between a boxer and MMA fighter would depend on which type of contest they’re fighting in. Each fighter would have an advantage over the other if they fight them in their discipline.

Boxer vs MMA fighter in a boxing match

As we saw in the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor, there is more to boxing than just throwing punches. When an accomplished boxer fights an MMA fighter in a boxing match, one of two things usually happen.

The first possible outcome is that the boxer will outclass the MMA fighter and take them out quick. Taking the MMA fighter out quickly with their superior boxing skills.

What the othe possible outcome is what happened in the Mayweather vs McGregor fight. Boxing is more of a marathon and the boxer may choose to take the MMA fighter into the later rounds. 

Since MMA fighters are conditioned 15-25 minute fights, they’re usually spent after this time. Making them easy pickings for a boxer to pick them apart without be able to put up much of a fight.

Boxer vs MMA fighte in an MMA match

On the other side of the spectrum, a boxer would not fair well in a MMA match against an MMA fighter. Boxing has two major flaws that get exposed in an MMA fight.

The first is that boxers are one dimensional fighters that only know how to punch. An MMA fighter can choose to batter them with leg kicks without much opposition from the boxer.

Then of course, boxers have no knowledge of how to fight on the ground. As we saw when Randy Couture fought James Toney, Couture took Toney down easily and finished the fight quickly.

Is it beneficial to learn both MMA and boxing?

Yes, practicing both MMA and boxing together can be extremely beneficial for you. Not only will it make you a better martial artists by learning both disciplines, but also your self defense skills. 

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself, you’ll be better prepared. Whether the fight is from standing or goes to the ground.

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Let's Roll BJJ aims to be the leading source of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling information and news on the web. Dorian, the owner and editor of Let's Roll BJJ is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and has been training and competing for over 6 years. Apart from being a BJJ geek, Dorian is a software developer by trade, a husband, and a father of two wonderful kids who he's recently began teaching Jiu Jitsu. When he's not training, coding, or writing, you can find him hiking, camping or occasionally binging on video games.


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