Boxing Vs MMA – How Do They Compare & Which Is Better

Mcgregor V Mayweather

When it comes to combat sports, Boxing and MMA dominate the landscape in turns of high profile fights, celebrity fighters, and large paydays. While Muay Thai and K1 are very popular for training and getting in shape, UFC and Boxing dominate the landscape in terms of fanfare and media attention.


Boxing is an elite level sport that has been around for thousands of years and the current Queensbury rules of boxing have been around for over 100 years. MMA, on the other hand, has only been around for a couple of decades and has only come to mainstream significance in recent years with the creation of the UFC. MMA has probably not yet reached an elite level due to it still being in its infancy.


Boxing involves only the use of the hands while MMA includes hands, feet, knees, elbows and it also has the ground game element. Both sports are considered martial arts although some think that boxing has too many rules to be a true martial art while MMA is the closest thing to a street fight in sports today with almost no rules and restrictions on the fighters. Boxers fight using 10 or 8oz gloves while MMA fighters use 4ox gloves where their fingers are free for grappling. There is some debate about which sport is safer with more deaths and serious brain injuries coming from the repetitive blows of boxing.


What’s The Differences In Rules Between Boxing And MMA

MMA Fight

Boxing contests take place in a squared circle ring with 4 ropes at least 20 ft on each side. Contestants used 10oz padded gloves and 8oz gloves for the smaller fighters. Boxers will fight for 12, 3-minute rounds and championship level and professional contests will usually be at least 6 rounds. Limited clinch is allowed in boxing and a referee stands in the middle of the ring to enforce the rules. Fighters can hit above their opponent’s trunks and there are no punches to the back of the head or hammer fists allowed.


MMA is fighting with little rules. The contestants square up in an octagon for 3 * 5-minute rounds and 5 * 5-minute rounds for championship fights. Fighters can punch, kick, elbow and knee as well as take them down and apply submission holds. The referee will only stand the fighters up if nothing is happening on the ground. There are no 12 to 6 elbows allowed and there is no biting and head butts allowed with unlimited clinch. It is the closest to street fighting you can get which attracts many.

Fighters can either be knocked out or they can tap out from a submission hold.



History Of Boxing

John L Sullivan - Last Bareknuckle Fight
John L Sullivan – Last Bareknuckle Fight

Boxing first showed up in ancient Greece where boxers competed at the Olympics and boxing continued in the ancient Rome where boxers competed with ancient knuckle dusters called Cletus and the fight would usually last for only a single punch.

Boxing resurfaced in the 18th century where bare-knuckle fighting reigned as a poor man’s sport. Jack Broughton invented the first gloves in the 19th century, known as mufflers, that were used for training and it allowed fighters to train without getting out and marked, opening the sport up to the upper classes.

The Queensbury rules were the first rules to bring in padded gloves and championship boxing with gloves started at the turn of the 20th century. Queensbury rules also stipulated a ring and it represents the boxing we see on the television today.

John L Sullivan fought the last bare-knuckle title fight and the first padded gloves title fight reigning in a new era of boxing.


History of MMA

Although MMA has also dated back to Ancient Greek times and Vale Tudo has been popular in Brazil, MMA hasn’t had the same mainstream recognition as boxing in the last couple of 100 years.

If you go back 20 years, no one would have heard of MMA. MMA started with absolutely no rules, allowing eye-gouging and head butts. Early MMA could barely get a venue to license its fights.

UFC was bought in 2001 out by Dana White and the Fertitta brothers who introduced some rules to reset the image of the sport as barbaric. Dana White incessantly called the media companies who eventually caved and allowed the sport to be shown. Donald Trump was one of the first to allow the sport to have a venue at the Taj Mahal resort.

The early sport was a mess with the competitors usually having only 1 skill like boxing, kickboxing, karate, jiu-jitsu or wrestling to rely on and it was fascinating to see which sport would come out on top, with the fighters not even being matched by weight.

Jiu-jitsu dominated early with the Gracie beating opponents that were much bigger with their techniques. The wrestlers eventually got the Jiu-Jitsu guys and Jiu-Jitsu has now become a well-known sport.

UFC has grown to rival boxing and the 4 disciplines that dominate are Boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling with fighters almost always possessing all 4 skills.

MMA is only reaching elite level now with kids who have trained for MMA since childhood finally making it to the Octagon.


Boxing Is A Sport And UFC Is A Company

Fury V Klitschko

Boxing is a sport and UFC is a company and this impacts how the fights get made, who fights who and how much the fighters make.

In Boxing you have all the top fighters ducking each other, waiting for the big paydays and trying to keep their unbeaten records while in MMA, Dana White is like a dictator, deciding who fights who and when.

Boxing has different organizations and belts, with mandatory challengers getting to fight for belts while all the tv stations and promotional companies compete against each other to get the best fighters and make the most money. It can be very hard to make fights when two promoters refuse to work with each other and it is a bit of a problem in boxing.

On the other hand in MMA, Dana just pits the best fighters against each other and this can lead to no good competitive fights being available to capture the publics’ attention. Almost every fighter gets beaten in MMA and is almost the opposite of the fighters ducking each other in boxing.



What’s Better In A Street Fight – Boxing Or MMA

Nate Diaz V Conor McGregor

If you put a boxer in an MMA cage with an MMA fighter, there will only be one outcome. If you put an MMA fighter in a boxing ring as we saw with Mayweather and McGregor, there will only be one outcome.

MMA has boxing in it but the level of boxing in MMA is nowhere near the level of elite-level boxing champions.

When James Toney fought Randy Couture in an MMA bout he quickly took James Toney down and submitted him, so surely the same would happen in a street fight.

There are so many variables in a street fight that you can’t conclusively say an MMA will win every day. If a boxer lands first he may well get a knockout, if the boxer has friends there to jump in, it can eliminate the effectiveness of the ground game.

Leg Kicks can put you at serious risk in a street fight if the other guy catches your leg and boxers have the movement, speed, and power in their hands to give anyone trouble.

We think 9 times out of 10 the MMA guy is going to win a street fight, but street fighting is for idiots and absolutely anything can happen so it’s best to avoid it at all costs.



What Should I Do For Self Defence – Boxing Or MMA?

Treadmill Running

It really depends what you are into, both are very effective for self-defense as 99 times out of 100, a bully isn’t going to go for someone who looks like they are full of confidence.

MMA has more strings to the bow but someone who isn’t trained in fighter has zero chance against a skilled boxer. When we are talking about self-defense, judging how dangerous the situation is and keeping your distance from any would-be attacker is key. Being 6 ft 5 and 250 pounds isn’t much good if you are are going to allow someone inside your range and land the first blow.

People who are trained in fighting aren’t going to be attacking other people because the discipline and character built from all the training should allow them to be more humble. It is usually the weakest people who want to start problems.

In a street fight, landing the first blow is probably going to end it and boxing will teach you exactly how to do that. That being said and MMA Fighter and a boxer in a street fight will favor the boxer.

Personally, I prefer Boxing and Muay Thai to MMA because the ground game bores me to death. I have trained a lot in Jiu-Jitsu but I prefer striking 100 times more so I stick to that.

If you want to be effective in a self-defense situation, learn how to stop takedowns, keep distance, leg kicks are great and the knee in the balls is always a good weapon for any females who are being attacked.

If you want to feel confident in a self-defense situation, try out Boxing, Muay Thai, and MMA and go with the one you like best.


 Is Boxing Training Or MMA Training More Difficult?

Which One To Train

I would say that both the sports are among the most difficult to train for because they are so intense and you have to get the body into such tremendous shape to fight and this intense training is what draws many people into the sport.

I would have to say that MMA training is more difficult because you need to cover at least 4 sports in 1 and there are only 24 hours in the day. That means that MMA fighters, especially at the top level will need to fit two sessions in a day in different disciplines and they also need to worry about their cardio, weight lifting, and conditioning so it is not easy by any means to be an MMA fighter.

Boxing is no walk in the park either, the top fights last 12 rounds so the fighters cardio needs to be that of an elite runner and they also need a massive amount of anaerobic endurance in their arms to keep throwing shots for the full fight, especially when they are under pressure from their opponent. A boxer will almost certainly have to train twice a day, weights, cardio, pads, bags, sparring and conditioning to get their body into the elite state that’s needed and make no mistake, boxing is an elite level sport. There are thousands of competitors at a high level in every weight division and I don’t think we can say the same yet about MMA.

It is not so long ago that an average boxer, kickboxer or wrestler could do two years of training and go on to fight in the UFC, this could not happen in Boxing where the top guys have immense talent and skill that can only be picked up from childhood in almost all cases.



What’s Safer, Boxing Or MMA – Who Suffers More Deaths?

While it may seem obvious to most that MMA is more dangerous with all the kicks, elbows, knees, spinning strikes and smaller gloves, the evidence tends to paint a different picture.

It seems that the repeated blows with the padded gloves cause more brain injuries, concussions, long term problems and ultimately deaths.

While MMA fighters suffer more cuts and visible injuries, the lasting damage of boxing seems to be much worse.

There were 60 deaths attributed directly to boxing matches 1998 – 2011 and only 4 in MMA between 1981 and 2007. While there were a lot more boxing matches in that period to the amount of fighters sustaining nasty eye injuries and lasting damage through concussions and being knockout out is much higher in boxing. And it’s not just in the ring but also in the long hard hours of sparring for boxing which is all getting hit in the head with punches.

When fighters get hurt in the UFC, they will usually drop to the floor and go on to be submitted with a joke but a boxer maybe concussively injured and the cushion in the pads means he can keep sustaining the blows while staying on his feet. The brain is like water in a jar if you hit the jar the water moves about and it seems that some big blows with an MMA glove is less damaging than many blows with a boxing gloves.

It must be said that the jury is still out on MMA for long term damage as it is such a young sport and we will have to wait and see what kind of long term damage MMA has.


Boxing Vs MMA – Which is more popular

Mayweather v De La Hoya

Boxing is still by far the more popular sport in terms of PPV numbers and MMA may have peaked in popularity for now. The popularity of each sport will depend on the fighters and characters involved and the quality of the fights that are being put on.

The highest selling PPV was Mayweather v Pacquiao which did 4.6 million buys. 2nd is McGregor vs Mayweather in a boxing match and number 3 is McGregor vs Khabib which generated 2.5 million buys.

It seems Conor McGregor did a lot to raise the interest levels in MMA with his brash style and trash-talking but while MMA might still be growing as a sport, it is still some way off boxing in terms of revenue generated and people watching the sport.

While Boxing and MMA are always looking for new stars to take the sport to the next level, boxing is still a good bit ahead in terms of popularity.


Another point to make is that professional boxing cards are going on every day of the year and if a fighter is good enough, he will work his way up the ranks to better opponents and paydays quickly. There can be 2 or 3 cards on the same night with good watching figures and the fighters being paid well.


While there are organizations to compete with UFC, like Bellator,  the fighters from one organization don’t take on the fighters in the other organizations. In terms of popularity, MMA needs to become a governing body and not just a company to be fully competitive as a sport and increase its popularity.


The time may well come when Boxing and MMA are on par with each other in terms of popularity and viewership


Do Boxers Or MMA Fighters Make Money?

Adrian Broner funny

Because UFC has a virtual monopoly on MMA fighters, Dana the dictator and the UFC get to keep a lot more of the money. In boxing, there are far more promotional options, TV networks and it has a broader appeal around the world.

Don’t get me wrong, fighters at the low end of the spectrum in Boxing and MMA, will struggle to make enough money to survive but as the boxers move up the ranks they tend to make more than their MMA counterparts.

Boxers at the highest levels also make a lot more than UFC fighters.

A journeyman in boxing giving a prospect a run-out can earn over £1,000 while a top prospect in MMA may make the same.

A top prospect or second-tier fighter can make £10,000 plus for a good fight, while it is not so long ago that the top UFC fighters were making similar figures.

As the fighters move to the elite level, the paydays get a lot better in both sports but boxers are making much more.

In 2018, Floyd Mayweather was the top-earning athlete of all time, earning a massive $285 million.

Conor McGregor is by far the UFC’s golden goose and he made just over $3,000,000 from the UFC although he earned nearly $100 million due to his high profile boxing match with Mayweather.

Only 9 of the entire UFC roster made over $1 million while boxers Canelo ($44 Million), Golovkin ($25 million), Joshua($39 million), Wilder($30 Million) and Pacquiao ($24 Million) all earned handsomely.

If you are thinking about getting into Boxing or MMA for an easy payday, you might want to reconsider unless you are planning on going all the way to the top of the sport.




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