July 15, 2018
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by TheBoxingGear

Sports are one of the most popular things around the world.

Some of the most-watched television hours of all time have definitely been sporting events, and when the Olympics or World Cup are on, you can bet that there are millions of people watching it across the world.

What is so interesting about sports is that there is consistently a rise and fall of which sports are popular and which are not, depending on the decade and the country you are in.

Sometimes baseball is at an all-time high in the US, while sometimes (actually most of the time) hockey seems to take the cake, especially in Canada.

Whatever the case may be, you cannot deny the power of sports.

MMA Growing Popularity

One of the most popular sports that is steadily on the rise year after year is MMA.

The MMA world and the UFC world are taking off and they have become a billion-dollar industry.

Every year it gets more and more advanced, with some of the most popular players rising out of the sport.

mma fighers throwing punches

Now for anyone beginning to watch MMA the first thing they may ask is, “What is the main difference between this and boxing?” They do, of course, look a lot alike, and the main rules are basically the same. 

It is two opponents in a closed in area who fight each other and are trying to knock the other one out and hit them the most.

That is the basis when it comes to boxing and MMA. However, there are a lot of major differences that you should be aware of.

Today we are going to be looking at these differences and diving into both of these sports.

We hope it is informative and you can walk away knowing more about both of them.

Boxing vs. MMA rules

So let’s look at the rules of each one of these sports and see what makes up the majority of their differences.

Now just to note, there are many boxing champions who are also champions of the MMA.

But just because you do one, it does not mean you cannot excel at the other.

boxing fighter training in the park

At the end of the day, they are very similar except for a few differences in the style of the rules.

So the first main difference, especially in terms of the rules, is the fighting style that is allowed in the ring.

With MMA, the fighters are allowed to incorporate a lot of various martial arts.

These can include Muay Thai, and a lot of different holds that lead to knock outs.

This can incorporate all areas of the body, including the feet. Kickboxing plays a huge role in MMA.

Meanwhile, boxing, uses a variety of punches and you can only use your arms and hands to knock out your opponent.

This is the first biggest difference in the rules. If you see a boxer kick the opposite player, they can be thrown from the game.

In MMA, basically anything goes, and it is a more full-bodied type of fighting style.

Match Rules

As for how the matches run, it does vary between MMA and Boxing. In boxing, it is determined by rounds, that can be around 3 minutes in length.

Obviously as a boxer you are trying to get a knock out, but if you cannot, you want to try and win each round.

There are usually 6 to 12 rounds in every fight, and if there is no knockout it can last a long time.

If no fighter has been knocked out it will go into the final seconds.

mma fighters in competition

At the end of every round, there is a jury (or a panel) that gives scores and at the very end of 12 rounds, the boxer who has the highest score will win.

MMA works very different when it comes to the timing rules. An MMA fight usually only lasts 3 rounds, and each of those rounds are 5 minutes long.

This makes fights shorter. This is mainly because of what we explained before: This is a full body fight and takes a bigger toll on the body when compared to boxing.

A fighter in MMA can win by knocking out their opponent, by getting a technical knockout, or by earning the most points.

A technical knockout is when a fighter gets another fighter in a hold that will eventually knock them out and the referee blows the whistle.

So they are not actually knocked out, but they technically would be.

Something in MMA that is different as well is that they can win by submission.

This is when a player can actually tap out, and let the other player win.

This usually happens in certain holds when one player is having trouble breathing or they feel like part of their body is going to break.

If one player taps out, the match is over.

Why MMA keeps growing in popularity

One of the main reasons people are starting to love MMA even more than boxing is because there are just so many techniques that go into the sport.

fighter entering the ring

In MMA, they can even incorporate everything that they do in the boxing ring. It is like boxing on crack, and uses a lot more violence than boxing.

You are allowed to kick, to do huge takedowns, to fight on the ground, and are also allowed to submit.

In MMA there is a lot more strategy, especially when it comes to submissions, where you are like a spider trying to tie up its pray.

Submissions are one of the main ways people win in MMA.

Boxing on the other hand is all about punching.

You can only hit another player by punching them. You are never allowed to punch below the waist, or punch an opponent who has fallen down.

You cannot grab an opponent, throw them to the floor or submit them. You cannot hit with your back hand and you cannot slap.

There are a lot more rules in boxing.

With MMA, punches of all kinds are allowed and you can hit with the knees, with the elbows, you can even grab an opponent and strike them to the ground.

Once on the ground, you can choke them and hurt them even more.

In boxing you can never use the ropes for leverage to get a harder hit, and if you ever are hit below the waist line you can take five minutes to go to the bench and recover.

If after 5 minutes you cannot recover, you are going to get a knock out.

In boxing if you are knocked out in the ring you only have a count of 20 to get back onto your feet without being assisted.

If you cannot get up, you lose, case closed.

Ring Styles

Another big difference between the two sports is the style of ring that the players are in.

The boxing ring gets its rules from the British Boxing Board Control, which is the largest governing body of boxing.

The ring needs be between 16 to 20 square feet and have 4 ropes around the periphery.

The UFC, on the other hand, uses the famous octagon, which is not a square shape like a boxing ring.

empty boxing ring

It is surrounded by fence, and you cannot easily get out of it. It has to be between 20 to 32 square feet, depending on what size that they want to go for.

In boxing the rules for weight are a lot more advanced, and there are many more weight categories than in MMA.

If you have followed either sport, you know how important the weigh in is.

If a fighter weighs in and is over or under the weight for the class they want to fight in, they cannot fight.

However, in boxing they have 1 hour to return and see if they can go up or down in weight. In UFC they have up to 4 hours to weigh in again, so just a bit more time to make it all right.

Difference between boxing and MMA gloves

One of the main differences between boxing and MMA is the type of gloves that the players use while they fight.

In MMA, the gloves are a lot lighter than boxing and can weigh less than 0.2 kg.

The gloves are a lot more flexible, as they will be all over the opponent. 

The gloves in MMA have exposed fingers so you can accomplish submissions and grab onto parts of your opponent.

black and yellow boxing gloves hanging

In boxing, the gloves are heavier and are equipped with cushioning in order to offer even more protection when you are punching.

They are higher in weight, weighing around 0.3 to 0.5 kg.

One of the biggest differences between the two gloves is the padding.

Boxing gloves are much more padded, and they usually have over a pound of soft material on the inside and outside to absorb punches.

MMA gloves are hardly padded, and they are a lot thinner to use.

The gloves for MMA have been designed mainly for submissions and grappling with the opponent.

To close up a boxing glove, you usually wrap them around a fighter’s forearms, and they are held in place by laces.

MMA usually just cover the top of the wrist and are held together by a Velcro tab.

There are some boxing gloves that come with Velcro closures, but they are usually used in training and not in actual fights.

In order to protect the wrist, boxers wear wrist straps under their boxing gloves to relieve any stress.

This allows them to endure hundreds of punches. MMA fighters never wear wrist straps, so there is hardly any room between the hand and the glove itself.

Buying gloves

Whether you are buying a new pair of boxing or MMA gloves, it is crucial that you take the time to find a pair that is actually going to work and promote safety.

The thing with gloves is that there are so many being offered these days, that it can be hard to know which ones are good and which you should avoid.

We strongly recommend that you do your research and find brands that are well known around the industry.

Look up what professionals are saying and find ones that are going to excel and last a long time.

They are going to take a lot of wear and tear, so it is up to you to find ones that will work.

The similarities

So now since you know the main differences, are there any real similarities between MMA and Boxing? Well the answer is obviously yes.

Boxing did come first, and it paved the way for MMA. Without boxing there would be no MMA and they have incorporated a lot of what boxing is into the sport.

In both sports, it is not only an extremely physical game, but also a mental one as well.

If you ask any boxer or MMA fighter, they will tell you that there is a mind game at play all the time, as you try to throw off the opponent in the ring.

fighter throwing a punch

You also will find they are similar in terms of punches and throwing the punch. As well, they both have the same final objectives—get hit and give hits.

In both sports, players really test their perseverance because it is hard to get punched over and over again and still get back up.

This sport is not only for men, but also for women, and there are exciting players of both genders.


So at the end of the day, there are definitely some major differences between MMA and boxing.

They have different fighting styles.

If you are ever stuck trying to explain it to someone who has no idea, just tell them that MMA is a much more aggressive version of boxing, where you can hit the opposing player with a lot more than just your fists.

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