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What Are The Major Differences in MMA and Boxing

Published 06/23/2020, 12:38 PM EDT

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Boxing and MMA have emerged as the most popular combat sports in recent times. From the Mayweathers to the McGregor’s both sports bring different things to the table and generate plenty of interest.

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Boxing and MMA are so popular as it has everything. From drama fuelled trash-talking to gladiator-Esque fighting. It is certainly one of the most entertaining sports anybody can watch.

 Millions of fans tune in every weekend to get a glimpse of their favorite fighters.


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Both sports are known for their violence and follow very different rules. Moreover, the various governing bodies and regulations in place also have major differences.

The major differences between boxing and MMA will be discussed, to understand what both combat sports bring to the table.



1. No. of rounds 

 The number of rounds differs in both sports. In boxing, fights usually last up to 12 rounds of 3 minutes each, with a minute rest in between. This implies that if a fight goes the distance, we could witness up to 36 minutes of power-packed action.

 In MMA, fights are usually fought for either 3 rounds or 5 rounds, depending on if it’s a championship bout or the main event, etc. Each round lasts for 5 minutes, with a minutes rest in between


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 2. Ring

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the two is the ring used for the fights. Boxing makes use of a traditional square ring, with the dimensions usually being between 16 and 20 feet. This might differ from promotion to promotion as well.


MMA makes use of an octagon, for all their fights although some differences may occur between various promotions. The standard octagon has a size of 30ft in diameter with the fence being 6ft high.

3. Glove size

There is a huge difference between the gloves used between MMA and boxing. Boxing makes use of bigger gloves, as fighters have to fight longer and are often seen as a protective measure. The weight of boxing gloves is different for each weight category.

Gloves range from 8oz- 14oz depending on whether a fighter is a lightweight or a heavyweight etc.

In MMA gloves are much smaller, and this could be attributed to the time fighters spend in the octagon. The standard size is 4oz. Although amateurs may use 6oz gloves

There might be some variances, depending on weight but on average it is between 4-6 oz



4. Fighting style

The most obvious difference between MMA and Boxing is the fighting style. In boxing, fighters are only allowed to punch and should do so only above the waist. 

However, in MMA, almost anything is allowed. Fighters can punch, kick use knees and elbows. They can incorporate wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and any other mixed martial arts they deem fit.However just like in boxing fighters can’t it below the waist

The only exception is that fighters cannot use their elbows in a 12-6 position. Doing so will result in disqualification. The most famous example of this was when Jon Jones was disqualified for using 12-6 elbow shots against Matt Hamill.

5. Rules 

Boxing and MMA are governed by slightly different rules. In boxing, fights are governed by the 3- knockdown rule. This means that fight is called off if a fighter gets knocked down 3 times in a fight.

Additionally, when a fighter gets knocked down, the 10-count rule comes into play. If a fighter gets knocked down, they have to get back on their feet unaided in 10 seconds.

In MMA, the result of the fight solely depends on the referee’s decision. A fighter may get knocked down multiple times in a fight, however, if the fighter is still moving, the bout continues. Some referees might stop the fight in order to protect a fighter from damage, in case of multiple knockdowns.

6.Weight categories

The weight categories between the two differ as well. In boxing, the weight category starts from light flyweight which included fighters who weigh 49 kg(108 pounds) and heavyweight in which a fighter can weigh in at any weight that is above the preceding weight class.

The weight classes in boxing range from- 108 pounds to 200 plus pounds. There are officially 18 weight categories that have been recognized since 2015. 

In MMA weight categories are similar, however, governing bodies recognize a much smaller number of weight classes.

The categories start from straw weight which is limited to just women fighting and goes up to heavyweight

The other weight classes in MMA are- 


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  1. Flyweight- 125 pounds
  2. Bantamweight- 135 pounds
  3. Featherweight- 145 pounds
  4. Lightweight-155 pounds
  5. Welterweight- 170 pounds
  6. Middleweight-185 pounds
  7. Light Heavyweight-205 pounds
  8. Heavyweight- 205 pounds plus

There might be certain exceptions, as fighters may agree to fight at a catchweight which may not come under the traditional weight classes.

Now that you’re equipped with everything you need to know about both sports. Let us know in the comments below which combat sport you prefer.


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Written by:

Pankaj Vinod


One take at a time