What Martial Arts Are Used In MMA?

What Martial Arts Are Used In MMA

You’ll need to have knowledge in a few disciplines such as boxing, muay Thai, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu to become a good fighter. It can be hard to master all of these disciplines. But the hard truth is that all of the best fighters today are well-rounded. Jon Jones, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman, you name it and they’re complete fighters.

MMA or mixed martial arts has developed from being a sporting event to becoming its own fighting discipline.

At its very core, MMA is a mixture of striking and grappling techniques. Each fighter has his or her own base when it comes to MMA but if you want to succeed, you need to master as many disciplines as you can.

This of course isn’t even diving deep into how well you should condition your mind and body for fights. Tackle problems one step at a time though and let’s answer the question…

What martial arts are used in MMA?

What Martial Arts Are Used In MMA?

MMA fights happen on your feet, along the cage, and on the ground. Being an expert in various striking and grappling disciplines will give you the capacity to fight well regardless of where your opponent takes you.

Here are some of the most commonly used martial arts in MMA. Let’s take a closer look.


Also called the sweet science, boxing is the most popular martial art used when it comes to striking in MMA. From the off-set, boxing seems to be primarily focused on punching only. However, a good boxer is also one that has great head movement, footwork, and defense.

Head movement and footwork are important when it comes to MMA. This will allow you to bob in and out of your opponent’s reach. The main goal of boxing is to hit and not get hit at the same time.

Another common trait that boxers have is good cardio. Boxing fights last longer as they are typically 12 3-minute rounds each. Boxers that transition into MMA bring with them cardio that’s hard to beat, as well as heavy hands.

When boxers transition to MMA, the thing that their opponents do is to take their opponents on the ground because of their lack of ground experience.

Standing up with a boxer is a bad idea. This is because it’s very easy to get outclassed and knocked out by a boxer with a lot of experience.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai

Next to boxing as a popular striking discipline in MMA is muay Thai. It’s the national sport of Thailand. This discipline is called the art of the eight limbs. That’s because, in muay Thai, you can use two hands, two elbows, two knees, and two shins.

Muay Thai is a deadly striking discipline as it allows you to fight your opponents from a distance with kicks. Punches between boxing and muay Thai are generally the same but the latter also uses spinning backfists.

Moreover, muay Thai features fluid movement to open up combos that strike the head, the body, and the legs of the opponent.

Another important aspect of muay Thai is clinching. This is the act of controlling your opponent by grabbing them from the back of their neck and holding them close. Clinching opens up opportunities for short elbows, knees, and even trips.

Clinching itself is a very important aspect of MMA. It’s deadly. In fact, a lot of the cuts that fighters get come from clinches are because of elbows too. Fighters that can clinch well can dominate their opponents pretty quickly up close.


Kickboxing is generally the same with muay Thai. The only difference is that in kickboxing, you don’t use knees and elbows.

Moreover, muay Thai kicks are intended to knock opponents out. In kickboxing, however, kicks are a lot less powerful but they are quick and more fluid. 

Another difference is that in muay Thai, kicking means hitting the opponent with your shins. Whereas in kickboxing, you train to kick your opponents with your feet which means there’s more distance between you two.


Wrestling is one of the oldest martial arts known to man with its history dating back to Ancient Greece. This sport teaches you the art of taking your opponent down through leg trips, slams, and suplexes.

It’s a devastating martial art because being on the receiving end of a takedown means you’re taking the brunt of your weight as well as your opponents.

A lot of experts argue that wrestling is definitely the best base for MMA. Due to the explosiveness and physical strength required in wrestling, wrestlers tend to be very physically capable fighters. These are fighters that train to lift people heavier than them after all.

Wrestlers are known to be some of the most physically overpowering fighters in MMA. It takes a lot of technique and power to lift someone the same size as you. Being able to do that while the person is defending the takedown is even more taxing.

When it comes to MMA, wrestling isn’t just about controlling your opponent. It’s also about pinning them down and controlling them. This opens up opportunities for submissions and devastating ground strikes.



MMA uses jiu-jitsu as the base grappling discipline. It’s the art of joint locks and chokehold.

Whereas striking disciplines teach you to deal damage and knock your opponents out through strikes, jiu-jitsu is about making your opponents tap through a wide array of submissions.

Not all techniques in jiu-jitsu apply in MMA. That’s because, in jiu-jitsu, fighters wear a heavy gi. This gi provides not just more traction, it also provides opportunities for submissions as well. In MMA, fighters are more slippery because of sweat.

There are various schools of discipline when it comes to jiu-jitsu. One school of jiu-jitsu that’s very popular in MMA is 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. 

At its base form, 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t require the use of a gi. However, this discipline of jiu-jitsu is more complex as it requires a lot of flexibility.

Jiu-jitsu also teaches you the importance of positions. Having good knowledge of jiu-jitsu will allow you to initiate various submissions – whether you’re in closed guard, side guard, or even while you’re being mounted.


Judo is an alternative to wrestling and jiu-jitsu. In this discipline, you use hip throws, leg trips, and body mechanics to take your opponent down. Like in jiu-jitsu, not all techniques in judo are available in MMA because of the lack of gi.

Judo also teaches you basic joint locks like armbars, leglocks, and heel hooks. The takedowns in judo are more creative and require more technique as compared to wrestling. Like jiu-jitsu, judo is basically a mind game as you fight for position with your opponent.

One fighter that utilizes judo techniques well in MMA is Ronda Rousey. She has finished various fights with hip throws and then submissions.


Taekwondo is still used in MMA as well although not as common as kickboxing and muay Thai. Two fighters that use taekwondo effectively in MMA fights are Steven Thompson and Anthony Pettis.

Similar to kickboxing, taekwondo features faster but lighter kicks. That’s because, as a sport, taekwondo is basically point fighting, and knocking out opponents is even discouraged in the Olympics.

As it’s used for exhibition shows as well, taekwondo features a wide variety of stylish kicks. Fighters don’t always use these kicks. But when a fighter uses them and they land, it can be very devastating.

Combat Sambo

Combat Sambo is becoming one of the most popular martial arts in MMA right now. Thanks to, Khabib Nurmagomedov who made it popular. Most of the fighters that use combat sambo are those who came from Dagestan, Russia.

The sport of combat sambo is basically like MMA as well. It features striking, takedowns, and submissions too. In combat sambo fighters, fighters usually wear a gi on their top and they wear wrestling shoes as well.

It’s a demanding and devastating martial arts. Demanding because it’s basically MMA as well. Devastating because like wrestling, combat sambo requires a lot of technique and explosiveness.

It’s a good base and experts are expecting more and more combat sambo fighters in the professional field.

We’ve most likely answered what martial arts are used in MMA. There are many other martial arts out there that fighters use.

But, whether you look in the UFC, Bellator, One Championship and other promotions, these are more or less the disciplines that you’re going to see.

Cauliflower ears are standard in those kind of sports discove why.

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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