Have you heard? There’s whispers of a Conner McGregor v Floyd Mayweather. Who wouldn’t want to see that fight? One of the all-time MMA champions pitted against a retired boxing legend.
If you’re a UFC enthusiast you’ll be in the loop already on the recent flurry of upheaval surrounding MMA, from Nate Diaz beating McGregor in UFC 196 to Dana White talking about selling the organisation.
Maybe you practice karate and love watching the extremity of the fights, or the Vale Tudo (everything goes) nature of MMA. Maybe you’re just a fan of all martial arts and you enjoy seeing the strikes and grapples. But what exactly are you seeing when you watch these legends competing for their lives in the octagon?
This is a look at the three top martial arts styles that make up the ups, downs and outs of MMA.
Boxing should absolutely be talked about first here. Boxing is a major component of the hard strikes that generate top-notch KO’s. Fighters who come into MMA from a boxing background have the highest chance of producing the the biggest blows, and hardest knockdowns. Boxers produce a whopping average of 9.64 throws per minute, as compared to Muay Thai fighters whose average comes to 7.5. MMA is all about manoeuvrability and boxing’s complex footwork lends itself very well to the sport.
We previously mentioned that Mauy Thai fighters don’t throw as many punches per minute, but there are other major benefits to practicing the sport which, as the name kind of hints originated in Thailand. Muay Thai has a lot more full-on contact moves than boxing. Not only are you dealing strikes, you’ll be using your whole body to produce throws, holds and kicks. Muay Thai has great attack moves and combinations. In Thailand the sport is also known as the art of eight limbs, a reference to using fists, elbows, legs and knees to attack.
The strategy behind judo is somewhat the opposite of Muay Thai. Judo is not about attacking, it’s about throwing your opponent off balance and immobilising them from any further attacks. Judo relies on low-level moves and grapples in order to keep an adversary down. Judo is an extremely effective self-defence system and some of MMA’s top fighters have come from a Judo background. Anderson Silva, one of the top ranking fighters also holds a black belt in Judo.
Which of these sports gives fighters an advantage in the octagon?
MMA fights incorporate something from all three of these sports, from boxing’s strikes to judo’s throws and locks. Reasonable arguments can be made of all three fighting styles, but which one is most effective will depend on a fighter’s physical attributes and strengths.