Is MMA Good for Self-Defense?


MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, is a sport that has gained popularity in droves recently. Leagues like UFC and Bellator MMA have grown exponentially within the last decade, drawing in huge crowds worldwide for events. Since MMA features a variety of combat sports, many people wonder if it’s good for self-defense.

Is MMA Good for Self-Defense?

MMA is good for self-defense because it teaches you a variety of fighting techniques across several different martial arts. Learning so many different techniques will in turn help you to be prepared for all kinds of fights and other self defense situations.

In MMA, there are several different fighting styles, so finding the best style for self-defense may be a little easier said than done. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of MMA and whether other combat sports can be just as effective—if not more—for self-defense.  

When people think of self-defense, the first thought that usually comes to mind is a fight outside a bar or restaurant late at night. This situation usually pits people against one another after a disagreement. For this situation, having a background in MMA might be a good thing to have.

But, real-life situations like this and others do not occur in controlled environments. In MMA fights, the fighters know the rules, fight within a confined area, have a referee controlling the fight, and have medical personnel on standby just in case. 

Overall though, MMA can help with self-defense in many ways. 

Confidence Boosts Ability

For one, confidence comes about in one’s ability to even get into shape while training. Getting into better shape can drastically improve a person’s self-confidence, which can help improve them overall. 

When a person is going into a self-defense situation, having confidence in their abilities is possibly the biggest factor in coming out on top. The confidence can come out in how aggressive or tactful a person is during a self-defense situation, leading to a more favorable outcome. 

Learn Self-Defense Moves

There is also the fact that during training, MMA can teach a person how to fight and put up enough defense to potentially get out of a dangerous situation. Since there are various ways to fight in MMA, you can become a well-rounded fighter the more you train too.

Is Boxing or MMA Better for Self-Defense? 

When it comes to self-defense, the two fighting disciplines, boxing and MMA, both come up most often as the debate for which is the best discipline to learn. The main reason is that both offer both offense and defense moves when fighting in certain circumstances. 

Your situation will determine which fighting style is best for self-defense:

  • For a situation where there might be multiple people involved, MMA is probably the better discipline to invoke. This is because MMA uses various fighting styles that are better suited for a person attempting to fight multiple people.  
  • Boxing is better for a one-on-one fight. With only one person to focus on, boxing can come into play more effectively. Plus, in the sport of boxing, being put on the ground is usually the end of things. In a street fight or self-defense situation, being put down is usually the end of it all as well. 

Is MMA Good in a Street Fight?

When it comes to street fighting, being trained in a fighting style that involves few rules, a lot of fluidity, and a well-recognized finale will definitely help. MMA for street fights is usually the better option. 

In MMA, there are few rules that fighters must follow, with most involving not striking in high-risk areas or using dirty tactics like poking in the eyes. This translates well into street fights because there are few—if any—rules to follow.

The other positive for MMA fighting styles in street fights is the wildness of a street fight. There are no rules during a street fight, and the winner is usually the one who can walk away from it. This is usually the way most MMA fights go as well. Very few fights end after the entire time limit has expired in every round. 

Then, there is also the fact that getting knocked down in an MMA fight can actually benefit a few fighters. There are many fighting disciplines that MMA fighters can employ, including some that are more suited for fighting from the ground up. So, in a street fight, MMA allows a person to fight on their own two feet and from the ground, ensuring they are never really out of the fight.

Is Boxing Good in a Street Fight? 

For some street fights, there are certain advantages to knowing how to throw a punch and throw one with effectiveness. The best way to win some street fights is to throw the most effective punch at the best time. Boxing is the ideal fighting discipline for that kind of fight.

Boxing has a more rigid structure when it comes to how one can fight in that discipline. While the similarities to MMA come into play, such as a timed round and having multiple of them, boxing only allows fighters to fight on their own two feet. Once a boxer hits the mat, the fight is stopped.

One positive that can come from this type of thinking is that boxers will do their absolute hardest not to hit the deck. During training and fights, boxers defensively are trying not to get hit hard enough to hit the ground at all costs. 

Another positive for boxing is the fact that most boxers, with proper training, will know when and how to throw a devastating punch that can end most fights. They also will know when to throw this punch to have the most effectiveness. 

Plus, the defense in boxing involves ducking and avoiding getting hit, which can be a good thing to do in a fight regardless of it being a street fight or a legal fight. 

Disadvantages of Boxing in Street Fights

When it comes to street fighting, though, there is no referee to stop the fight if someone hits the ground. This is where boxing loses its luster of being the best fighting discipline to know in a street fight.

Along with this, boxing is a very rigid fighting discipline that restricts a fighter to only throwing punches. While this can be great for an ordinary fight, most street fights are not ordinary and structured. Most street fights can get hectic, which makes self-defense a priority for survival. Boxing provides a one-dimensional offense and defense strategy. 

Which Martial Art is Best for Self-Defense?

Overall, the best martial art you can utilize for self-defense comes down to specific situations and people. Boxing and MMA disciplines are similar enough and different enough that someone can legitimately choose one or the other and be well off when it comes to self-defense. 

But, if you are looking outside of boxing and MMA, karate or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are both great options for a person to learn how to take an opponent’s attacks and turn them against him or her. Both of these fighting styles allow the fighter the choice to stay on their feet or fight from the ground, with a more fluid range of attacks and defenses than boxing would teach.

Final Thoughts

MMA is a great fighting discipline to learn for just about anybody. The main reason is that it is a whole-body exercise that will challenge a person physically and mentally. When it comes to self-defense, MMA can also be a great choice to learn as well. 

Boxing is another fighting discipline that can come in handy during a self-defense situation. Like MMA, boxing allows a person to gain confidence in themselves through their ability to learn how to fight and get into shape. Boxing can also be great for self-defense because boxers are well-known for being disciplined in situations and being both good on offense and defense. 

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