What Are the Best Martial Arts for MMA/UFC? (Most Essential)

In the unforgiving arena of mixed martial arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), fighters must possess a diverse set of skills to attain victory.

Like a painter with a brush, they must master the most essential martial arts techniques, each stroke adding depth to their repertoire.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling lay the foundation for ground dominance and defensive strategies, while Muay Thai and kickboxing provide a striking symphony of precision and power.

With boxing as their cornerstone, fighters unleash lightning-fast strikes and devastating punching power.

Join us as we explore the best martial arts for MMA/UFC and unlock the secrets to success.

Key Takeaways

  • Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Wrestling are essential for avoiding being dominated on the ground and controlling opponents.
  • Muay Thai and Kickboxing provide fighters with a wide range of striking tools and are effective in both offense and defense.
  • Boxing is the foundation for striking in MMA and helps fighters develop strong punching power and hand speed.
  • Elite strikers prefer to avoid close distance against wrestlers and BJJ practitioners, while boxers have the necessary gas tank for success in MMA.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Wrestling

Both Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Wrestling play a crucial role in the success of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, offering essential grappling and ground control techniques.

Ground control is of utmost importance in MMA as it allows fighters to dominate their opponents, dictate the pace of the fight, and set up submissions or ground and pound.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, with its focus on submissions and positional control, provides fighters with the ability to neutralize opponents on the ground and even win fights with a single technique.

Wrestling, on the other hand, excels in controlling opponents and tiring them out through relentless takedowns and top control.

By incorporating striking techniques, such as punches and kicks, into their repertoire, BJJ and Wrestling practitioners enhance their ability to transition from the ground to standing exchanges, adding another layer of versatility to their game.

This integration of striking techniques allows for a more comprehensive approach to combat, giving fighters a strategic advantage in the octagon.

Muay Thai and Kickboxing

  1. Kickboxers, with their lethal combination of boxing and kicking skills, are renowned for being highly effective strikers in MMA. Their ability to deliver powerful punches and kicks makes them a force to be reckoned with in the octagon. Here are three key points to consider when discussing Muay Thai and Kickboxing in MMA:
  2. Clinching in Muay Thai differs from clinching in MMA due to the ruleset. In Muay Thai, clinching involves close-range techniques such as knee strikes, elbow strikes, and sweeps. In MMA, clinching is used to control opponents and set up takedowns or strikes. The emphasis is on controlling and manipulating the opponent's body position.
  3. Kickboxing techniques can be effectively combined with other martial arts in MMA. By incorporating elements of boxing, kickboxers can enhance their striking skills, footwork, and head movement. Additionally, the diverse range of strikes in Muay Thai, such as kicks, knees, and elbows, can be seamlessly integrated into an MMA fighter's arsenal, creating a well-rounded and unpredictable striking game.
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Interestingly, boxing is often considered the foundation for striking in MMA, as it enhances hand speed and accuracy while providing effective techniques for offense and defense.

Boxing is a striking style that focuses primarily on punches, utilizing footwork and head movement to create angles and evade attacks.

In terms of striking effectiveness in MMA, the debate between boxing and kickboxing remains a topic of discussion. While kickboxing incorporates both punches and kicks, boxing's emphasis on refined punching techniques and defensive skills can be advantageous in the octagon.

Boxers have proven their worth in MMA, with champions like Conor McGregor and Amanda Nunes showcasing their boxing skills to secure victories. The evolution of boxing in MMA has seen fighters utilize boxing techniques to set up takedowns, counter strikes, and dictate the pace of the fight.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of boxing versus kickboxing in MMA depends on the individual fighter's style, strengths, and adaptability to different situations.


Kickboxers' specialization in boxing and kicking makes them lethal strikers in MMA. Their ability to combine powerful punches and kicks allows them to deliver devastating blows that can knock out their opponents. In addition, kickboxers often have exceptional footwork and head movement, making it difficult for their opponents to take them down. While kickboxers are not allowed to use elbows, sweeps, or grappling techniques in kickboxing, their striking skills make them a formidable force in MMA.

How does kickboxing compare to Muay Thai in MMA?

  1. Kickboxing focuses more on boxing techniques, while Muay Thai incorporates a wider range of strikes, including elbows, knees, and clinching.
  2. Kickboxing emphasizes footwork and head movement, while Muay Thai emphasizes the use of the clinch and devastating knee strikes.
  3. Kickboxing has a more limited set of techniques, while Muay Thai offers a broader arsenal of strikes and clinching techniques.
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What are the advantages of incorporating boxing into MMA?

  1. Boxing helps fighters develop cardiovascular endurance and skilled footwork.
  2. Boxers have the necessary gas tank for success in MMA due to their 10-round matches.
  3. Boxing techniques are effective for both offense and defense, allowing fighters to keep their opponents at bay and land powerful strikes.


One of the key advantages of incorporating boxing into MMA is the development of cardiovascular endurance and skilled footwork. Boxing helps fighters develop the necessary gas tank for success in MMA due to their 10-round matches, building up their endurance and stamina.

Additionally, boxers are known for their quick and powerful punches, securing knockouts and landing the most strikes. They possess the ability to keep opponents at bay with their effective use of range and can utilize dirty boxing techniques in close quarters.

When comparing boxing to other striking martial arts in MMA, it remains highly relevant and essential. While karate, judo, and sambo may have their own strengths, they are generally less effective in MMA compared to the versatility and proven techniques of boxing.

Other Martial Arts in MMA

Additionally, several other martial arts play a significant role in MMA, providing fighters with diverse skills and strategies to excel in the octagon.

Here are three other martial arts that are commonly used in MMA:

  1. Karate: Karate brings unique advantages to MMA fighters. It emphasizes striking techniques like punches, kicks, and knees, allowing fighters to deliver powerful and precise strikes. Karate practitioners also develop excellent footwork and agility, making it harder for opponents to engage them in close quarters. However, compared to disciplines like boxing and Muay Thai, Karate's effectiveness in MMA is limited due to its lack of focus on ground fighting and grappling.
  2. Judo vs Sambo: Both Judo and Sambo have their merits in MMA. Judo focuses on throws and takedowns, allowing fighters to control their opponents and dictate the fight. It is particularly effective in close-range combat. On the other hand, Sambo combines elements of Judo and wrestling, emphasizing both throws and ground fighting techniques. Sambo practitioners excel in grappling and submission holds, making it a valuable martial art for MMA fighters. Ultimately, the choice between Judo and Sambo depends on the fighter's personal preference and style.

How Important Is Learning to Check a Kick in MMA/UFC?

Learning to check kicks in MMA/UFC is incredibly important for fighters. A well-executed check can not only prevent damage and injury but also allow for counterattacks. Effective checked kicks in mma/ufc can disrupt an opponent’s strategy, inflict pain, and potentially even lead to a knockout. The ability to defend against kicks is a vital aspect of a fighter’s skill set, emphasizing the significance of mastering this technique.

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In conclusion, the best martial arts for MMA/UFC include Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and wrestling for ground dominance and defensive strategies. Muay Thai and kickboxing are also important for striking tools and offensive and defensive techniques. Additionally, boxing is beneficial for enhancing hand speed, accuracy, and punching power.

These martial arts have proven to be essential in the success of UFC champions, providing them with the necessary skills to excel in the octagon. Aspiring fighters and enthusiasts should prioritize understanding and training in these martial arts to excel in the world of MMA/UFC.

Mike Williams
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