What Is Dirty Boxing In MMA/Boxing?

What Is Dirty Boxing In MMA/Boxing

Dirty boxing refers to a group of unconventional techniques and tactics that fighters use in combat sports. Some of them are legal while others are actually borderline illegal. In spite of that, fighters can get away with it. For that reason, many sports experts, as well as newbies, call it “dirty” boxing.

Dirty Boxing: Where The Term “Dirty boxing” is coming from?

The origins of the term “dirty boxing” are still unclear even today. However, it seems as though it’s related to Filipino street boxing called suntukan.

In literal translation, suntukan refers to the exchange of strikes between two people. In the Philippines, this often occurs in the streets, especially if both parties got into a heated confrontation.

Suntukan has no rules. You simply throw punches or other forms of strikes against your opponent.

However, note that it is not an official sport in the Philippines. But, it has a lot of similarities to dirty boxing.

This is because it uses “dirty” moves, such as eye gouging, hair pulling, headbutts, forearm strikes, and back fists. Apart from that, it uses shoulder butts, elbow strikes, as well as hammer fists.

Is Dirty Boxing Concrete For Self-Defense?

Many boxers use dirty boxing. While some of the moves are borderline illegal, they can still get away with it. But, just because boxers use it, doesn’t mean you can also utilize it for self-defense.

Yes, it does use striking methods and other “dirty” moves. However, this style could seriously get you in trouble with the law.

What’s more, the moves are too close-ranged. Plus, the forms of some of the strikes are not proper. Hence, it could put you more at risk of injuries, particularly on your wrists.

If you want something that you can use for self-defense, it’s more ideal to delve into mixed martial arts or Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

MMA teaches proper striking techniques. Hence, you can lessen your chances of getting injured while throwing punches.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu, on the other hand, strengthens your body, especially your grip. At the same time, it teaches you different methods to fight your opponent using grips, joint locks, and strangles.

Which Dirty Boxing skills Are Used In Boxing?

Dirty boxing includes these moves:

  • Headbutt
  • Forearm strikes
  • Hammer fists
  • Back fists
  • Shoulder butts
  • Clinching

However, boxers don’t usually use all of them. Instead, they create a referee blind spot, clinch to recover, use forearm push, and head positioning.

Creating Referee Blind Spot

When done correctly, this dirty boxing move will help you create an angle where the referee won’t be able to see what you’re doing. As you do this, your goal is to get a clinch and steer your opponent in a position where the referee can’t see what’s happening.

This will give you a chance to throw illegal strikes and get away with it. Examples of this are headbutts and elbow strikes.

One of the boxers who have mastered it over the years was Bernard Hopkins. What he did during his prime years is he would press his opponents against the ropes to create a blind spot. Then, he’d hold his opponents’ wrists or throw illegal short elbow strikes.

Clinching to Recover

If you’ve been watching boxing matches, you’ll notice that most rounds usually end up in a clinch. It turns out, this is one of the dirty boxing moves that we’re talking about.

Typically, boxers would duck under to do this. Then, they’d go for a clinch to defend themselves against their opponent’s attacks.

You can also use it when you get hurt. You can clinch to recover and, like in other dirty boxing moves, get away with it.

When you get hurt, your opponent will likely take advantage of it and follow up with more strikes. Needless to say, when this happens, chances are, you’ll lose the match.

What you can do to stop them is to grab your opponent around their waist or neck. This stalls them for a few seconds. Doing so helps you buy some time to recover.

Forearm Push

The forearm push is yet another sneaky move that you can do in boxing. But, compared to other moves, this can lead to a brutal knockout.

To do this, you have to place your forearm on your opponent’s face during a close-range exchange. This way, you can limit their vision. Additionally, this makes it challenging for them to follow up with powerful punches.

Head Positioning

Most of the time, boxers clash and battle for a head position. And you can actually see them clearly when you watch a boxing match.

If you’re not familiar with dirty boxing, you’d only think that the boxers are only doing it to simply lean on each other to get a quick rest. But, don’t be fooled by it.

In reality, they’re already trying to control each other’s heads. Boxers do this as this technique gives them a great gain in certain situations. This helps them maneuver their opponent to set them up for a powerful punching combo.

Which Dirty Boxing Set Of Moves Are Used In MMA?

Which Dirty Boxing Set Of Moves Are Used In MMA

Despite it being named “dirty boxing,” these sets of moves aren’t only used in boxing. Apparently, they are also rampant in mixed martial art bouts. Here are some of the usual moves fighters use for you to be aware of them or so you can use them to your advantage.

Clinching to Wear Out the Combatant

Mixed martial arts don’t prohibit fighters from clinching. In fact, they can clinch as much as they like. The referee won’t separate them unless they become inactive for a certain time. So, like in boxing, you can use the clinch to buy some time to rest and recover.

How pro fighters do this is they usually press their opponent against the fence. Then, they wear them out using strong pressure.

This move will help you against powerful combatants. This is because your opponent will exert all their efforts to get out of it.

Using Shoulder Strikes/Bumps

Shoulder strikes are actually a good dirty boxing technique that you can also use in mixed martial arts. Conor McGregor can attest to this.

In UFC 246 in 2020, McGregor had to face Donald Cerrone. The former won via total knockout as he broke the latter’s orbital bone using such a dirty boxing method.

For this, McGregor used the “over-under” move. But, there are more positions that you can use. This, however, is the most common move that mixed martial art fighters use. They land these strikes in the center or against the cage.

Using Elbows and Knees in the Clinch

Elbow and knee strikes are the most effective dirty boxing moves you can use in mixed martial art bouts. These techniques can produce the biggest damage, including swellings, deep cuts, severe bleeding, as well as broken ribs if you do it correctly.

To perform this, what you should do is wrap your hands around your opponent’s neck. This way, you can break their posture and pull the “Thai clinch.”

From there, strike your opponent’s stomach using your knee. You can also go high to the head if you can.

As for the elbow strikes, the process is the same. You can land them from different positions.  You can even use it while pulling the Thai clinch.

With this, you can do a lot of damage to your opponent. You can even knock them out if you do it right.

Utilizing Single Collar Tie

Mixed martial arts fighters use this to land hard strikes, making it one of the best dirty boxing techniques you can use in the said combat sport.

To do this, fake your way into your combatant’s range using a jab to get a clinch. Other fighters use other strikes for this.

Then, grab your opponent behind their neck using one hand. From there, strike them with your other hand. You can use uppercuts, elbows, or hooks over the top.

Well-Known MMA Fighters Who Used Dirty Boxing?

Well-Known MMA Fighters Who Used Dirty Boxing

Pro mixed martial art fighters also use dirty boxing techniques to earn their belts. Some of them use them more often than others.

Randy Couture

Randy Couture is probably the best example of mixed martial artist who frequently use dirty boxing moves. He usually uses solid head movement skills. This way, he can dodge the strikes from his opponent.

Then, he’d get into his opponent’s range. From there, he’d position his head on their chest and secure a single collar tie position. Doing so allowed him to strike his opponents with the other hand.

Connor McGregor

Connor McGregor also used dirty moves when he fought against Donald Cerrone in UFC 246.  He used the popular “over-under” technique. This rendered Cerrone knocked out. As a result, McGregor won the match.

Daniel Cormier

Daniel Cormier is popular for his wrestling skills. But, he also has great standup skills and used dirty boxing techniques.

Cormier was often put under a huge height and reach disadvantage against his opponents. Yet, his dirty boxing techniques helped him with his matches.

Renowned Boxers Who Used Dirty Boxing?

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the actual boxers who use the famous dirty boxing moves. Here are some of them.

Bernard Hopkins

Bernard Hopkins used countless dirty boxing moves during his prime. He was really great at initiating the clinch and steering his opponents to create a blindspot.

From there, he’d do illegal moves, such as holding his opponent’s wrists and striking them with sneaky elbows. Needless to say, he got away with it as the referee couldn’t see it.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Ah, the greatest boxer of our generation. His secret – dirty boxing moves.

In case you’d fight him one day, you better keep an eye out on his clinching skills. He’d usually place his hand over his opponent’s face. This way, he can interrupt their vision. Then, he’d follow up with powerful punches.

In spite of having unclear origins, dirty boxing in MMA or boxing will surely help you pave your way to the top, just as how it did to several famous boxers and MMA fighters. But, be careful, though, you might get caught if not done properly.

About Carla Mesina

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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