MMA 101 – Boxing

For most, boxing is the first thought when the words, ‘professional fighting’ come up. It’s the longest tenured, most publicized, professional combat sport on the planet. A key piece of boxing’s long lasting appeal is its simplicity. Its appeal lies in its basic nature, two people, in the ring, hitting one another. There aren’t any kicks, there are no takedowns, just consistent efforts to relieve opponents of their senses by bludgeoning them unconscious. Boxing’s base nature leaves some holes for more complete fighters to exploit. A boxer in an MMA fight, loses. Period. A fight career based solely on keeping your feet planted while throwing punches doesn’t really prepare someone for the realities surrounding a hard low leg kick, or a blast double.  

Ignoring boxing, however…that’s also a bad idea. Walking into a fight without the most basic idea of how to avoid a punch or throw a jab is step one in the ‘how to get knocked out’ field guide.

Boxing can teach some important lessons:


Distance management:

The term distance management gets thrown around a lot in combat sports. It’s nowhere better handled than in boxing; when all you can do is throw punches, you learn in a hurry what the effective range is. A solid boxer learns to use his feet to get and keep him in range, and to capitalize on that position by throwing effective punches.


The jab:

Seriously, maybe the most important punch in all sports. Getting any kind of offense going against an effective jab is damn difficult. A solid jab keeps an opponent on the defense, helps a fighter manage distance, and when done right can add to the cumulative damage taken during a fight. Blocking a jab is relatively easy, it’s the three punches after it that get difficult. Boxers set up and throw the jab better than any other discipline.


Head Movement:

Mike Tyson embodies an extreme example of head movement. His peek-a-boo style made him hard to hit and set up his devastating punches. When all you have to do is evade punches, you had better get pretty good at doing that. The inherent head movement in boxing translates really well into MMA; learning how to slip a punch by a millimeter and counter will absolutely up one’s win percentage.



Punches in bunches win fights. Combos are a pillar of boxing. The ole one two, one two (or whatever variation you like) heavy hitting style is one of the most effective in combat sports. A boxing base will help any athlete learn to throw hands.  



When most people watch a fight, they see two guys standing in front of one another. What they don’t see is the exploitation of little angles in footwork and motion. Boxing’s simplistic nature (simple, not easy) makes finding an offbeat angle a necessity. Sure, you could stand in front of you opponent and swing away, like chopping so much lumber. That is, however, a poor choice. He who finds a way around his opponent will eventually find a way to go through him.  Angles create openings, openings lead to knockouts.

Boxing is the oldest popular combat sport. One of the most derided in MMA circles, it’s also one of the most effective striking sports. It’s simple, learn to box if you want to fight.   

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