What is a Rabbit Punch in Boxing/MMA? Easily Explained

What is a Rabbit Punch in Boxing/MMA? Easily Explained

A rabbit punch is a blow that lands right at the back of your head. This is a dangerous move as it could render a fighter paralyzed. So, if you’re fighting for an MMA or boxing event, make sure to avoid this move for your safety and/or for your opponent’s.

What is a Rabbit Punch in MMA or Boxing?

If you’re new to mixed martial arts or boxing, you might wonder what is a rabbit punch in MMA or boxing. Apparently, it is one of the most dangerous moves in both sports.

Mixed martial arts and boxing have several similarities. One of them is the rabbit punch. This move is done by striking the back of your opponent’s head, especially the base of the skull.  

This is more common in boxing. In this sport, boxers have to move their head up and down; and left and right to dodge punches. However, this exposes the back of their head. So, in a clinch or other close-range exchanges, fighters often accidentally hit the back of each other’s heads.

While uncommon, this also happens in mixed martial art bouts. This often occurs when one fighter is in a full mount position and is striking their opponent while on the ground.

However, it is illegal to use in boxing and mixed martial art bouts.

This is because it could damage your cervical vertebrae and spinal cord. When this happens, it could cause a serious and irreparable spinal cord injury. Basically, this could paralyze a fighter.

Why is it called Rabbit Punch?

Why is it called Rabbit Punch

For those who are new to the mixed martial arts and/or boxing scene, the term rabbit punch may seem harmless. But, don’t be fooled by it as it could render you paralyzed. But, why is it called like so?

Apparently, people derived the name from the way hunters kill their prey – rabbits, in particular.

Hunters don’t just use guns when hunting. They also use other methods and one of them is the rabbit punch to not ruin the animal’s fur.

Like in boxing or mixed martial arts, they do this by punching the back of the rabbit’s head. But, they do it with a club in order to break its spinal cord.

As brutal as it may seem but it is already one of the quickest and most human way that they can do to end the rabbit’s life.

Today, sports enthusiasts and commentators use such a term as strikes to the back of the head resembles the rabbit hunting method. It’s unclear when people started using this term, though. But, it has been used for many years.

Is Rabbit Punch illegal in MMA and Boxing?

A rabbit punch is one of the dangerous moves that you can do in mixed martial arts and boxing. This is because it blows the back of your head. What’s wrong with that, you say?

To shed more light on the dangers of this move, let’s take a quick trip to memory lane and remember our lessons from Science class.

You see, the spinal cord is a vital part of the human’s central nervous system. If it gets damaged, you could suffer from spinal injuries and even paralysis.

The area where it is located, which is at the back of our head, is very sensitive. Even a single strike to this area could cause a person permanent disability.

A rabbit punch can also affect the brain stem. Located at the base of the skull, this part of the body plays a huge role in the motor and sensory systems as it helps with the regulation of cardiac functions.

When this gets damaged, needless to say, these systems, as well as your cardiac functions will get affected.

Because of that, both boxing and mixed martial arts prohibit it.

What is the punishment for a rabbit punch?

What is the punishment for a rabbit punch

A rabbit punch could change one’s life in an instant. It will not only cause you permanent disability but it could also affect your whole career. Thus, boxing and mixed martial arts deem it illegal.

However, at times, strikes to the back of the head are unavoidable. This is especially true as it is common for people to move their heads back and forth or left and right to avoid punches to the head.

When this happens referees deal with it by weighing various factors. One of the things that referees have to see is if the punch was intentional or not.

They also need to check how hard the rabbit punch was.  Plus, the referees must examine the hurt fighter if they can still continue or not. Needless to say, they need to see the damage done to the fighter too.

In case a fighter keeps repeating the rabbit punch, the referee has no choice but to deduct a point. Sometimes, they might not even give a warning.

In certain situations where the fighter can no longer continue after receiving a rabbit punch, the referee has the power to disqualify the fighter who threw the strike.

Are all Rabbit Punches illegal?

While boxing and mixed martial arts organizations prohibit rabbit punches during bouts, there are cases where the punches won’t get you in serious trouble. This is common in boxing.

One of the situations where you won’t get penalized is when your opponent turns their back on you. When this happens, it is your opponent’s fault and you won’t be issued a warning for throwing accidental rabbit punches.

Has Anyone Died due to Rabbit Punches?

Rabbit punches are dangerous. That’s why it’s illegal in boxing and mixed martial art bouts.

Fortunately, there are no records so far that suggest that a fighter died because of rabbit punches thrown during a match.

However, there are boxing fights where rabbit punches contributed to the serious injuries that a fighter received.

One of them happened in 2015 during a match between Prichard Colon and Terrell Williams.

In the seventh round, Colon received a hard rabbit punch. This sent him to the floor. The referee deducted points from Williams as it was intentional. Two rounds later and he still continued throwing rabbit punches.

Right after the fight, Colon started feeling weak and dizzy and started vomiting. He was rushed to the hospital where he underwent surgery. It turns out, the left side of his brain is bleeding.

Colon, unfortunately, spent more than 200 days in a coma. He survived yet is in a vegetative state. A rabbit punch in MMA or boxing is a dangerous move. It could change a fighter’s life in an instant. Hence, you should dodge it as much as possible and avoid throwing it at your opponent for a safe and fair fight.

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About Carla

I'm a journalist passionate about extreme sports. I love writing and reading stories about those brave people that are going beyond the limit of their physical capabilities.

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