Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing? (Shocking Truth!)

Hello! Welcome to my “Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing?” article!

Boxing, as information provides, has reportedly been documented as far back as 3000BC in Egypt. Meanwhile, the MMA or Mixed Martial Arts that we know of today, has only been formally recognized and invented during the 90’s.

Is MMA more dangerous than Boxing? This is one question that has been going around for ages, especially with the rise in popularity of Mixed Martial Arts. There isn’t really an excellent metric to base which is more dangerous than the other, but in this article, we will try.

What is Boxing?

Boxing is a combat sport, participated by two people. Using protective gloves, they throw punches at each other within a certain amount of time.

Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing
LAS VEGAS, NV – MAY 02: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao exchange punches during their welterweight unification championship bout on May 2, 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The victorious one will be determined if ever the opponent is deemed unable to continue to fight, disqualification, forfeit by throwing in the towel. If ever both of the fighters managed to finish all the rounds, then it is time to go to the judges’ card.

The one who receives the highest score, wins the match. But if their scores are equal, that means they have a draw. When it comes to the Olympics, the judges make sure that only one fighter remains victorious.

What is MMA?

MMA, shortcut for Mixed Martial Arts, is a full-contact combat sports in which fighters are allowed to perform grapples, throws, and striking. Furthermore, they can do these, standing and on the ground.

Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing
LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 06: Conor McGregor of Ireland is held by Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia before submitting in defeat in their UFC lightweight championship bout during the UFC 229 event inside T-Mobile Arena on October 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

Fighters are decorated with different kinds of martial arts and yes, they can use all of their techniques and moves in this sport. That is why it is called Mixed Martial Arts. Think of it as a huge crossover between martial arts.

Same with Boxing, MMA has a round by round scoring system, unless a fighter is deemed unable to continue fighting. UFC, or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, popularized the sport, and is followed by promotions like Bellator MMA and ONE Championship.

What Are Their Differences?

Fighting Styles

The main difference between the two sports is that boxing only focuses on punches. Furthermore, the only ones that the fighters can hit is the head of the opponent, and the body above the belt.

On the other hand, MMA fighters use a wide variety of martial arts, which includes boxing, of course. Tthey can perform grapples, throws, submissions, and kicking strikes, both on the ground and in standing position.

Facilities and equipment

As for the facilities and equipment, boxing takes place in a square-shaped ring, while MMA is done inside an octagon-shaped or circular ring or cage.

Another one are the gloves they use. Boxing gloves are much bigger and heavier. They usually weigh around 8oz to 12oz depending on what is agreed. Moreover, they are cushioned to give protection to the hands.

MMA gloves are smaller and much lighter, which weigh 4oz. Furthermore, the fingers are exposed, making fighters have an easier way to perform submissions and other techniques.

Rules – Boxing

Boxing matches can have 12 rounds having 3 minutes each with a 1-minute rest in between. Lower level fighters have 4,6,8, or 10 rounds.

The striking method is punching only. Fighters can only hit above the belt. Hitting the back of the head and the neck is strictly not allowed. Even if accidental, if your opponent sustains a lot of damage, a fighter can get disqualified.

When the opponent is down due to punches, the fighter must stop striking. Then the referee begins to count from 1 to 10. Failure to recover within the count and stand up leads to a knockout, or in simple words, a loss.

Other ways to win is via unanimous decision (judges’ scorecards), disqualification and if the opponent forfeits through throwing in the towel inside the ring.

Rules – MMA

In the case of MMA, fighters are permitted to do more than just punches. They can kick, use elbow strikes, punch, use submission moves, grapple, takedowns and even use their knees for striking.

There are exceptions though. Groin attacks are illegal. Knee strikes to the head when the opponent is on the ground is not allowed. No eye gouging, strikes to the back of the head and spine, head butts, biting and hair pulling.

A championship MMA match runs for 5 rounds, an regular fights have 3 only. Each round has 5 minutes with a 1-minute rest in between. As for the ways to win, it is similar to boxing, having a knockout, technical knockout, disqualification, forfeit, and decision. However, MMA fighters can also win via submission.

Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing?

Whether it’s MMA or Boxing, you must first understand that both of these sports are dangerous because the sport itself involves inflicting pain and damage to opponents, thus coined as combat sports.

Is MMA more dangerous than boxing? If you already have watched both sports, you would immediately answer that MMA is more dangerous than boxing.

Most of the time, MMA matches always tend to end up a lot bloodier than boxing matches in which fighters only get cuts on their faces. Although it is a good guess, that is not the correct answer. Before you disagree with me, hear me out first.

Here are the reasons why boxing is more dangerous compared to MMA.

1.) Strikes and Attacks

We have discussed how MMA has a lot more techniques, strikes and ways to knock an opponent down. While boxing only focuses on punches.

If you think about it, in MMA, you have a lot of places to strike and a lot more ways to end the fight, with the addition of submissions.

You can do an arm bar, choke hold, triangle choke, kimura lock and many more. Furthermore, you can kick and punch the opponent’s body, leg or even the face. However, even though these are many, they are still nothing compared to receiving repeated strikes to the head, in boxing.

Yes it is true that in MMA, you can easily get injured. Fighters get to break their bones, acquire torn ACLs, or even put unconscious using submissions. However, MMA fighters rarely cause brain damages to their opponents.

Even researchers studied this and proved that boxing is more dangerous. When it comes to injuries, MMA fighters are more prone. That is why most MMA matches are bloodier.

But on the other hand, while boxers tend to not end up bloody, they are more prone to long-term effects, such as concussions and head trauma which could lead to CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Repeated blows to the head increase the chances of affecting the brain!

What Is CTE?

CTE is the term for Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Repeated head traumas cause this brain degeneration.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Furthermore, CTE is a rare condition  in which its diagnosis is made by the autopsy of different sections of the brain. Symptoms of CTE include difficulties with emotions, cognition, physical and many more. Up to this day, this condition is still not understood well. Players of contact sports usually acquire this condition.

2.) Bigger and Heavier Gloves

Both fighters in boxing and MMA use padded gloves to protect two things; the opponent, and their hands. Striking and throwing punches to someone while bare-handed actually hurts a lot! In fact, if you punch too hard, you will end up breaking your knuckles.

But comparing the gloves in both sports, boxing gloves are heavier, bigger, and is more padded to protect the hands of the fighters. MMA gloves are way lighter and less padded.

That means that in MMA, it is easier to knock out an opponent, right? Since fighters can throw more powerful punches. However, a lot of researchers have proved that more padded gloves are way more dangerous since the impact they can cause increases.

Furthermore, in boxing, the range of allowable parts to strike is small compared in MMA. Most of the time, fighters receive throws in their heads.

3.) Longer Fight Time

Do the math. In boxing, matches run for 12 rounds with 3 minutes each. While in MMA, they have 5 rounds with 5 minutes each.

The longer the fight time means the longer that fighters receive strikes that could endanger them.

4.) The 10-Second Count

In MMA, when a referee sees that a fighter is unable to continue, he can immediately stop the fight. That can actually save them from taking further punishment from their opponents.

However, in boxing, once a fighter is down, the referee will still count to ten. If ever the fighter manages to get back up, that means he/she can still receive more strikes!

Bottom Line

To summarize the answer for “Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing?“, I would say that boxing is more dangerous.

This is due to longer fight time means longer and more punishments to receive, concentrated strikes to the head which increase the chances of damaging the brain, and the stoppages of the matches are longer because of the 10-second count.

When we talk about strikes, the only time that MMA gets more dangerous is when the fighters receive head kicks, elbow or knees to the head. Furthermore, MMA is more likely to make the fighters bleed easily and acquire injuries during matches.

So the bottom line is, long-term speaking, boxing is more dangerous. While short-term speaking, MMA is more dangerous.

Thank you so much for reading my “Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing?” article! If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them on the comment section below!

4 thoughts on “Is MMA More Dangerous Than Boxing? (Shocking Truth!)”

  1. Personally I prefer straight martial arts to MMA but I can appreciate the skill and training that is necessary to succeed at any of them. Thank you for explaining your position. Before reading through your article, I would have said MMA is more dangerous than boxing however you make a compelling argument. The repeated blows to the head for a longer time period with thicker gloves with boxing does seem to warrant a more dangerous situation. Thanks again!


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