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Boxing Vs MMA: A side-by-side comparison



If you’re looking to get into the sport of fighting, the debate of Boxing Vs MMA is bound to come up in discussion.

Most of this discussion revolves around which is the superior sport, but the debate goes much deeper than that. Claims that boxing is purer or more of an art are subjective, as are the claims that MMA more closely mimics the conditions of a true fight. In fact, MMA incorporates a lot of the art and skill that we’re accustomed to seeing in boxing, it just mixes in a basic understanding of the ground game to see it.

Before diving into one sport or the other, take a look at our comparisons and decide which side in the Boxing vs MMA battle appeals more to you.

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Real-World Applications

This topic is the central issue in the Boxing Vs MMA debate and the favorite talking points brought up by MMA and Boxing supporters alike. MMA enthusiasts claim that, in a street fight, there’s no referee to keep you from grabbing your opponent or bringing him to the ground. This, they contend, means that MMA, with it’s multi-disciplinary tool kit of moves, is more useful in the real world. This argument, however, neglects a few key points. Since its creation, MMA has put a rigorous set of rules in place. There are rounds, a referee, restrictions on certain punches and kicks when someone is on the ground and, of course, rules against eye gouging and below-the-belt attacks. MMA isn’t the free-for-all that people depict it to be. There’s a specific way most fights progress and there are tactics encouraged by the rules that exist.

Additionally, while both sports involve fighting, training and developing a vast knowledge about techniques you can use to win, they are still sports.

Sports that both have their own set of rules.

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In terms of getting into the sport, MMA definitely offers you a lot more opportunities for injuries during practice. Remember, MMA usually consists of a Brazilian jiu jitsu training (BJJ) background with some Muay Thai or other form of striking art rolled into it. What this means, however, is that you have double the risks built in. Anybody that rolls around doing BJJ tends to end up with some joint injuries. For the every day practitioner, this might be something to consider.

Of course, the really big deal in both sports is brain damage and concussions. The question is, does MMA result in the same kind of damage in the long run?

Several factors make brain damage more likely in boxing. The fact that boxers get a count after a knockdown gives them an opportunity to regain their composure even if they are already suffering from a concussion. This allows them to get even more severe brain damage. Additionally, the more thickly padded gloves means more repeated light brain trauma. Finally, the larger number of rounds, the more time a boxer has to accumulate brain damage as well.

To make things worse, the main way of winning a boxing match is essentially by inflicting brain damage on your opponent. While body shots do add up, everyone is looking for the KO. At the end of the day, a knockout is the result of brain damage.

In contrast, MMA referees are quick to call a match once a fighter can no longer defend himself. Plus, a match can be won by submission. This means that knockouts are less frequent and there is less brain damage. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the risk of bodily harm is gone completely. Submissions can also end in bones snapping if you don’t know when enough is enough.

The bottom line is, if you want to be in a combat sport, whether it’s MMA or boxing or anything else, you’re going to get hurt. It’s a matter of deciding how much, and in which way you prefer.

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Moves, Techniques and Skills

MMA is a sport made up of a several other fighting styles and martial arts. In fact, if you get into MMA you’re going to learn some boxing. Then, there’s that old phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.” Time spent on your ground game is time not spent on your striking skills.

While boxing obviously lacks a grappling component, boxing is renowned for its footwork, powerful combinations and overall toughness. Watching the footwork of the greats makes you realize why they call it the sweet science, as it really looks like a sort of stylized dance of knowledge and skill. This level of agility and quickness on their feet is something that a lot MMA guys fail to develop.

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Availability and Cost

Punching bags are easy to come by, shadow boxing can be done anywhere and there are boxing gyms all around the country. To see how easy it can be to get started, check out some of these elite boxing workouts you can do at home. While BJJ or more esoteric martial arts might be difficult to find in some areas, boxing is pretty universal in the United States. Also, finding rolling partners, or buying mats for your garage can be tricky. While MMA has definitely grown in popularity, boxing is still more readily available in most places and often cheaper than the combination of classes and training you need to participate in MMA training.

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Training and Fitness

You’ve seen the famous montages. Not only do boxers train ridiculously hard, they get absurdly tough and good at taking and giving punches.

Boxing is widely acknowledge as a great way to get in shape, but MMA fighters train just as hard, and come into the octagon in tip-top shape.

This next factor applies more to beginners and amateurs. When starting out, while BJJ is a great work out, nothing compares to the cardio and pace of a striking work out, or a traditional boxing work out. Again, something to consider if you’re getting into this as a way to get a work out or maybe augment your fitness for other sports like surfing or climbing.

Whether you choose boxing or MMA, both of these great sports have their pros and cons, their strengths and weakness. Hopefully this guide has given you a few ideas on how to decide which way you want to go.

Are you an MMA or boxing Adrenalist? Let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen.

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