Is MMA Painful? | What Do The Fighters Say?

If you are a fan of combat sports, you have likely watched a UFC or Bellator fight and wondered, “How do these men and women do it?”

Admittedly, MMA is not for everyone, but it is easy for anyone to wonder just how painful the sport is. As obvious as it might seem, it is not unheard of to wonder if MMA is painful. 

Is MMA Painful?

Yes, MMA is painful. Fighters have compared the injuries they receive in the octagon to those you would get in a car accident. The type of injuries participants suffer will vary on the fight, but at a minimum, bruised and swollen hands, elbows, feet, and more are common injuries for fighters. 

Mixed martial artists put fighters’ bodies through a lot, and being a fighter is not easy. Read on for more insight into the life of a mixed martial artist and what they do to prevent and nurse their injuries.

After reading this, you will likely have a new respect for the sacrifices these fighters put their bodies through. 

How Badly Does MMA Hurt?

MMA is arguably the most dangerous sport in the world. The sacrifices fighters make to get far and succeed in the industry are incredible. Many fighters compare the injuries of a three-to-five round bout to a car crash. Injuries vary on each fight and what areas of the body the opponent targets. To a viewer, some hits might not look bad, but they add up.

If a fight does not last long and an opponent submits to prevent serious injury, there is a chance both fighters walk away healthy.

However, a short fight does not account for the potential injuries suffered throughout a grueling training camp. Fighters often walk into a match already injured but choose to compete anyway. 

For some fighters, injuries add up and derail their career.

  • Each fight has the potential for brain damage and head trauma caused by hits to the head.
  • Different parts of a fighter’s body might start to weaken after multiple injuries and surgeries.
  • Many fighters suffer structural damage during a fight but choose to continue. 

The style of the fighter also plays into the potential for injury. Fighters who prefer to punch and kick will often end up in a more grueling fight than a fighter who prefers to wrestle and stay on the mat. No matter what the style of a fighter is, a fight is always going to hurt. Some styles just hurt less than others. 

How Do MMA Fighters Take the Pain?

The average person cannot and should not walk into a fight without expecting to walk out injured. MMA fighters can sustain the punishment partly because their bodies are hardened throughout their career. When your body is accustomed to taking punishment, it will give a fighter added strength and durability.

Many fighters will purposely take hits to their abdomen during their training camp to harden their body for the punches and kicks of their upcoming opponent.

Striking and blocking will help a fighter develop the structural strength and durability necessary for a fight. However, fighters also turn to supplements and other resources for pain relief.

  • Vaseline is often applied before and in between rounds. Fighters will have vaseline on their face to make the skin more elastic and slippery, thus less likely to tear during a fight.
  • Pain relievers are taken 30 to 45 minutes before a fight.
  • Pre-workouts with pain-relieving ingredients are used.
  • Body reflexes and scouting are practiced to avoid taking opponents’ best hits.

There are several resources available to a fighter to help them cope with their injuries, but fighters must make sure the supplements they use are approved by the FDA and their fighting organization.

During the fight, many fighters battle through severe injury off of adrenaline and body reflexes that keep them in the fight. 

Not every fighter is built the same. Some fighters deal with pain better than others, and those that do are the ones that tend to have longer careers in mixed martial arts.

Throughout a career, fighters will develop injuries that their opponents will target during a fight, and it is up to the fighter to prepare themselves for it. 

Are MMA Fighters Sore after a Fight?

To say that MMA fighters are sore after a fight would be a severe understatement. The soreness stems from a grueling training camp as well as the fight itself. Unless a fighter can finish their opponent quickly, there will be at least some level of soreness after the fight. Once the adrenaline wears off of a fighter, they will start to feel the pain.

Most fights involve a lot of punching and kicking. When a fighter repeatedly attacks the hardened body parts of their opponent, it will eventually start to feel like they are punching a brick wall. After three to five rounds of fighting, the whole body is likely going to be sore, including:

  • Elbows
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Hands
  • Abdominals
  • Back
  • Head

Most fighters will wake up the next day feeling sorer than they do immediately after the fight. Adrenaline can last a while, and most fighters choose to be tough and hide their injuries and wounds from the public. MMA is just like any contact sport in that it is demanding and will take a physical toll on your body. 

Some fighters swell very easily and will have noticeable inflammation during the fight. Aside from fighting, fighters put their body through a lot to make weight.

The grueling process of cutting weight can also weaken the body and make it more susceptible to pain and soreness. Simply put, it is rare for a fighter not to be sore after a fight. 

What Do MMA Fighters Do after a Fight?

What MMA fighters do after a fight is dependent on the result of each camp. Typically both fighters will go to the trainer’s office to seek medical attention for the wounds and injuries. However, aside from nursing their injuries, fighters tend to have to go through interviews and post-fight press conferences unless their injuries are too severe. 

If the fight was not too grueling, you might even find a fighter partying and celebrating a victory after the event.

However, partying is rare, and more often than not, fighters will tend to their injuries and start the recovery process regardless of the fight result. There are several ways fighters tend to their injuries after a fight.

  • Drink water
  • Ice injuries
  • Take anti-inflammation medication
  • Rest
  • Taking an ice bath to prevent inflammation 

Trainers will help fighters diagnose their injuries and provide them with the treatment and medication they need to recover.

It takes a while for the adrenaline of a fight to wear off, but once it does, a fighter will start to feel the aches and pains of the injuries they suffered during the fight. Quickly icing the wounds will help prevent inflammation.

Most fighters will take a lengthy break from training and fighting once they have completed a full fight cycle. Typically, you can expect to see a fighter take up to six months before they step back into the octagon.

However, the less brutal the fight, the more likely a fighter will be inclined to start training for the next fight. 


Simply put, MMA is not a sport for the light-hearted. MMA is a brutal and intense sport, and injuries are very common. Fighters put their body through a lot, and it is up to them to maintain their health and nurse their injuries after a fight. Fighters can find ways to deal with pain, but it is typically just a temporary fix. 

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